Thursday, October 23, 2014

UConn's kids grew up tonight

The first two road games of the season not only ended with losses but also with performances that made it hard for the UConn fan base to get fired up.

The Huskies once again will return from a road game with a loss but a 31-21 defeat at the hands of No. 18 ranked East Carolina should at least give the Husky faithful some stuff to feel good about for the first time since the Boise State contest.

East Carolina, favored by four touchdowns, did not take the lead until 6:15 remained in the game and the Huskies did it without its star players (receiver Geremy Davis and cornerback Byron Jones) for much of the game. Davis suffered a foot injury while Davis had to leave the field twice for what appeared to be an arm or shoulder issue and did not return after the second trip to the sidelines. Also, freshman tailback Arkeel Newsome was limited to one series and I didn't notice freshman linebacker Junior Joseph out there either.

Although senior Deshon Foxx led the team with 120 receiving yards on four catches, much of the production came from the younger receivers. Foxx had an 88-yard touchdown catch, the longest reception for a UConn player since Dan Orlovsky hit Jason Williams for a 90-yard score against Temple and longest offensive play since a Terry Caulley 98-yard run in 2006. It was seventh longest offensive play in UConn history. However, much of the heavy lifting in the passing game was done by the younger players as 14 of the 20 receptions were made by players who were part of the last two recruiting classes. It was encouraging to see Thomas Lucas haul in passes of 37 and 43 yards, Noel Thomas finish with 57 yards on three catches including his first career touchdown and even Brian Lemelle, a bit of a forgotten man this season, had a 10-yard reception. Dhameer Bradley chipped in with four catches but easily could have had a couple more.

On the other side of the ball, it was clearly a baptism under fire for sophomore Jhavon Williams and freshman Jamar Summers. Both got whistled for multiple penalties but also rose up to make some key plays after East Carolina put up 14 points with relative ease. John Green also got plenty of time especially after Jones was knocked out of the game. When you think about it, of the three cornerbacks UConn finished the game with one of them (Green) was a receiver at this point last season and another one (Summers) was at Milford Academy.

Finally, the offensive and defensive lines impressed me. Sure, the running game struggled but East Carolina is one of the toughest teams in the country to run against. Chandler Whitmer had time to throw the ball and there didn't seem to be any noticeable breakdown in blocking assignments. UConn didn't get to ECU quarterback Shane Carden often but the defensive line held up well against a very good Pirates' offensive line.


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