Saturday, October 10, 2015

UConn posts an emphatic win and a road win at that

The numbers were simply not to be believed. But looking at them again, I see 40 points, 409 yards of total offense, two actual punt returns and 5 for 11 on third downs for the UConn offense and that was with a quarter left to play.

I realize that this Central Florida team bears little resemblance to the veteran squad which put up 527 yards and 62 points the last time the Huskies played in Orlando back in 2013 but still, seeing the Huskies up 40-3 after three quarters en route to a 40-13 victory was something to behold.

There were signs that things were beginning to turn around. I can't even imagine what the composite score would have been had last year's UConn squad or the team from 2013 played at Missouri, at home against a senior-laden Navy squad and then at BYU in a three-game stretch. I think it is safe to assume it would not have been anywhere near as competitive as those three games were. Still, seeing the Huskies come on the road and do what they did today was quite impressive.

Whether it was Arkeel Newsome accounting for 257 all-purpose yards, UConn scoring four rushing touchdowns, interceptions by Jhavon Williams and Obi Melifonwu being turned into 14 crucial points late in the first half or Bryant Shirreffs connecting for huge third-down gains instead of running for his life, there's plenty to be optimistic about moving forward.

"It was a big confidence boost for everybody and now we are onto USF who I heard had a great game," Shirreffs said. "That is why it is vital to have such a tough schedule. You have to take those hard games and learn from them. I think we did that. A couple of them I know we wish we could have had but they were lessons that were important as losses. We did a good job this week of turning it around and we need to continue doing what we are doing."

The scary thing is that before those two touchdowns late in the second quarter, it felt like the Huskies were squandering opportunities that could come back to haunt them. UConn ran eight plays in UCF territory and another on the 50 in three straight drives and came up with no points.

"We played some tough opponents and now we are going into conference play and it is important," Williams said. "It would have been nice to win those games but this is important, we have to win in the conference so we can go to a bowl game."

The thing about this game is that is nowhere close to the best the Huskies could play. There were too many pre-snap penalties and some pass protection issues. Defensively, I have to wonder how things would have played out if not for all the drops by the UCF receivers. But as Bob Diaco has said in the past, it is much easier to correct the mistakes coming off a win. With no disrespect to either Villanova or Army, I would have to think this is going to be one of the more enjoyable film study sessions for the team this season.

During Tuesday's practice I saw UConn playing both Newsome and Ron Johnson in the backfield together and I will go more into detail on this subject in the coming days but that is a nice look for the Huskies. It was also good to see the Huskies get the tight ends involved as Alec Bloom had 67 yards on four catches and Tommy Myers a key 11-yard reception. Williams continues to emerge as a standout cornerback while I thought Kenton Adeyemi and Cole Ormsby had strong games.

There will be much more to come from today's game so stay tuned.


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