Sunday, December 08, 2013

Offensive line, safeties shine in UConn victory

Few positions on the 2013 UConn squad drew more criticism this season than the offensive line and the secondary. Since I was among those pointing out their shortcomings, I figured it was only equitable that I give credit where credit is due.

Quarterback Casey Cochram receivers Geremy Davis and Deshon Foxx and linebacker Yawin Smallwood garnered most of the post-game accolades following the 45-10 win over Memphis and it was well deserved. However, the play of the offensive line and safeties should not be ignored.

It was not a great start for the line as the first seven of the first 10 plays resulted in no gain or negative yardage.

Once the decision was made o rely on high-percentage passes, UConn took the game over.

UConn quarterbacks attempted 55 passes and not only did Memphis not record a sack, but there was only one time I remember when a Memphis defender even got a hand on Cochran.

"What they’ve gone through the season, the criticism they’ve had and everything we’ve been through for the last four or five games to go out and protect like they did for 55 passes was impressive," UConn interim coach T.J. Weist said. "They really came together well, they really gave Casey the ability to make those decisions, make those throws and proud of their mentality. Early in the first quarter we were frustrated, we couldn’t run and we were getting beat up front. We shifted gears a little bit and they came together."

While three of the offensive linemen who started were seniors, the way the unit came together late in the season is a good sign moving forward.

"The offensive line was doing great," Foxx said.. "They’ve been doing great, the whole team had their struggles at the beginning of the season and it wasn’t just the offensive line but everybody."

Safeties Andrew Adams and Obi Melifonwu came into the game have combined for four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble recovery). All they did was combine for 16 tackles, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception. While there were times when the cornerbacks struggled against Memphis, the safeties were rock solid in pass coverage while providing run support,

"We got on each other in practice about making turnovers," Adams said. "We were doing our assignment because we know we have a big role in our defense these past few weeks in practice we got on each other and it paid off in the game."

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