Marriner looking to make best of his opportunities at UConn
UConn was leading 17-6 when Nick Vitale fumbled a punt near the Huskies' 10. If East Carolina recovered the Pirates had a glorious chance to make it a one-score game. However, even though there were plenty of bodies on the ground in pursuit of the loose football by the time Josh Marriner arrived on the scene, he was the one to come up with the ball.
"I saw the ball, the whistle hadn't blown and that is what we are taught to do - keep playing until the whistle is blown," Marriner said. "It felt great because the next play was a touchdown, it could have changed the game and it is did change the game. We recovered it and we scored. If we didn't recover it, we wouldn't have known what would have happened."
The next play was the electrifying 90-yard touchdown run by Arkeel Newsome. Rather than East Carolina being down perhaps only by four points, suddenly it was a 24-6 game.
Normally special teams the best way for Marriner to get his hands on the ball as he is a starting kickoff return man as well as playing on the punt-return unit. Marriner did get five carries in the game with three coming on UConn' first two touchdown-scoring drives of the game.
It's been an interesting season for Marriner. At the 2014 American Athletic Conference media day, the way UConn coach Bob Diaco raved about Marriner I went out and did a feature on him because I expected him to be a featured part of the running game. He had 24 carries in the first four games of the 2014 campaign but had 12 the rest of the way while this season three of his four carries coming into the East Carolina game came in garbage time against Central Florida. Despite a lack of touches, Marriner's enthusiasm for playing has not waned.
"I am able to play football," Marriner said. "A lot of my friends back home wish they were in the spot I am in. I just love it every day I am out there, this is a blessing to be here and a blessing to be a part of this team and play football."
Much of Marriner's playing time has come as an h-back providing blocking for quarterback Bryant Shirreffs or fellow running backs Arkeel Newsome or Ron Johnson.
"Anytime they call my name to do my job, I am ready to do it," Marriner said. "It is different for me but I love my brothers so I made sure I got better at it and when they call my name, I could do it."
PUYOL A SEMIFINALIST FOR LOU GROZA AWARD
UConn junior kicker Bobby Puyol is one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, presented annually to the nation's top kicker.
Puyol is 12 of 13 on field goals this season with a long of 45 coming in last week's win over East Carolina.
Among players who have attempted at least 10 field goals, only Oregon's Aidan Schneider and UCLA's Ka'imi Fairbaim have made a higher percentage of field goals than Puyol this season at the FBS level as both are 13 for 14.