Sunday, November 08, 2015

Defense saves the day for UConn

Coming into the season I felt (and perhaps I even wrote it but can't remember back that far) that if UConn headed into the regular season finale against Temple with a chance to become bowl eligible that I'm not sure too many UConn fans could complain about how the season transpired.

Well, UConn will either already be bowl eligible if the Huskies beat undefeated Houston on Nov. 21 or need to beat Temple to get there. There are certainly easier opponents to face back to back with a potential bowl spot on the line but considering where this program has been, this certainly is progress.

I did not cover yesterday's game but did some number crunching after Jamar Summers' interception return for a touchdown followed by Bobby Puyol's extra point provided all the Huskies' points.

According to my research, it is the fifth time this season that an FBS team won a game without scoring an offensive touchdown but the only time that the only points for the winning team came on a defensive score.

SEPTEMBER 4Utah State 12, S. Utah 9 (PR TD, defensive PAT, FG)
Duke 9, Boston College 7 (3 FGs)
Wake Forest 3, Boston College 0 (1 FG)
Georgia 9, Missouri 6 (no TDs in game)

I won't make any promises but I may try to research the last time an FBS team won a game without getting any points from the offense. Normally I would have done that today but I have a women's basketball preseason game to cover so that research will have to wait.

A couple of statistical notes from yesterday's game

With two catches against Tulane, Arkeel Newsome has the most catches in a season for a UConn running back since the Huskies made the jump to the FBS level. Cornell Brockington caught 34 passes during the 2004 season and Newsome came into the Tulane game with 34 catches. Newsome already set the mark for receiving yards as he is at 417 and counting. Andre Dixon's 280 receiving yards were the most for a UConn back (again during the FBS era) and that took place in 2007.

Only six players (Lenny King, Mark Chapman, Matt Latham, Darrell Wilson, Robert Vaughn and Rich Fenton) have more interceptions in a season than the six by Summers.

Bryant Shirreffs now has the third most rushing yards in a season by a UConn quarterback. Shirreffs has 422 yards. I don't think he'll move up on that list as Pete Petrillo ran for 676 in 1967 and 620 yards in 1968. He did pass Irv Panciera (420 yards in 1951) and Ken Sweitzer (419 yards in 1980 and 381 yards in 1981).

UConn didn't exactly hide its offensive intentions coming out of the locker room at halftime using one receiver (Noel Thomas), tight ends Alec Bloom and Tommy Myers and Max DeLorenzo at fullback in front of Newsome as the Huskies were able to get something going in the run game with some old fashioned power football.

Look for the kickoff time for the Houston game to be announced on Monday morning, likely on the American Athletic Conference call.

I thought this could have been Graham Stewart's best game at UConn and it was not just the 3 1/2 tackles for loss. Stewart's thirst to make the big play would result in him taking poor angles and not only setting the edge as he is supposed to. It looked to me like positionally, he was outstanding and then he just let it rip and made some key plays.


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