Huskies head to Yankee Stadium to face Army. Gaffney enters the "Den of the Devil".
TORRINGTON: First, let me get this out of the way. I must be dedicated to my craft and company if I am to venture into a place I have often referred to as “The Den of the Devil.”
I’m talking about Yankee Stadium where I will make my way to on Saturday, not to see a baseball game or concert or the Pope but to see the University of Connecticut Huskies take on the Army Black Knights on a ball field that will be transformed into a gridiron.
You see, as a New York Mets fan, the Bronx has always been an area associated with pain and suffering (take the 2000 World Series) as the guys in blue and orange struggle to remain relevant in a town with a neighbor that sports 27 World Championships.
For a day though, I. along with Patrick Tiscia and the entire Wilson family, will make our way to the house that Ruth didn’t build to take in a game that is almost secondary to the environment that will come from playing a team from West Point.
It’s Army after all. The pomp and circumstance that comes with playing a service branch is always spectacular and an honor to be part of.
I grew up not far from West Point an could not help but be impressed and a little intimidated whenever we took a visit up to the mountains of New York to see the Cadets in their colors and precision.
There will be a football game played as well as the Huskies look to win their second in a row after their 37-29 upset win over UCF a week ago in East Hartford.
Four games remain on the Huskies schedule, two at home (Cincinnati and SMU), one on the road at Memphis.
At 2-6, UConn needs to run the table if they want to have a shot at a bowl game but let’s not get light years ahead of ourselves.
Over the last two weeks, Bob Diaco and his Huskies have given UConn country a reason to keep an eye on football even as the basketball season gets under way next week by playing very well in a loss to ECU two weeks ago by a 31-21 score before shocking UCF last Saturday.
An offense that has been as bad as any in the nation had suddenly found life to the tune of 58 points in two games after scoring but 77 in their first six outings.
Quarterback Chandler Whitmer has been given time behind an improving offensive line and a young receiving group has stepped up over the last two games.
Deshon Foxx has been the best offensive weapon on the field for the Huskies this season and made things happen at quarterback last week when he sparked a stalled offense with a 68-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
UConn will face an Army team that works on the gridiron much like they do it battle; in the trenches where all battles are won.
The Knights run, run some more and just when you get tired, they run some more.
They come in averaging over 300 yards on the ground and have two runners with over 500 yards each this year.
Running back Larry Dixon has run for 696 while quarterback Angel Santiago is second on the team with 576. Santaigo averages just 45 yards per game through the air so the battle should be waged on the ground.
The Huskies have won the last four meetings between the two teams, the last one a 21-7 win at The Rent in 2006.
Both team are headed by first year coaches who are looking to rebuild their programs with both facing impatient fans bases.
Diaco has stressed that it will take time to change the culture of losing that has been part of UConn football for a number of year while Knights head coach Jeff Monken is looking to do the same.
Both teams sport 2-6 records at this point.
So for a day, I’ll step foot in my friend and colleague Patrick Tiscia’s favorite place and take one for the team.
Can’t guarantee my feet won’t burn a bit on the grass but I’ll give it my best effort.