Notes from Friday nights 35-10 loss to BYU.
The Huskies eyes now dot the landscape at Rentschler Field. UConn is opening their 2014 campaign against BYU at 7 p.m.
EAST HARTFORD: So, the new era of the University of Connecticut football program was ushered in last night in a 35-10 loss to a very talented Taysom Hill and the Brigham Young University Cougars.
You’re not really going to find many folks who thought otherwise going in so the outcome should not be anything that shocks us and it didn’t.
Sure, going down 14 points before the fans had meandered their way in from a perfect tailgate situation in the parking lot was not the plan but head coach Bob Diaco has said since day one that this is going to take time.
“We need to get better every time we take the field,” Diaco has said numerous times. “Tonight we got better as a team.”
If you’re just looking at it from a score standpoint you might think the energy vampires had gotten to the first year head coaches head and did some damage but considering the horrible shape this program was in when he got here, he has to look at this as a building process.
“We are in the infant stage of our development as a football team,” Diaco told reporters in a remarkably upbeat press conference after a lopsided loss. “We are putting down the foundation.”
True to his word, the first year head coach used a boat load of players on Friday night; 25 on offense, 25 on defense.
Both his quarterbacks, Casey Cochran and Chandler Whitmer saw action behind center.
This one might be the toughest for those watching the development of the team to swallow.
The two signal caller system has always been tough to watch and there is not a lot of evidence showing that it is going to work in this situation either.
Whitmer may have led the Huskies to their only touchdown in the second quarter but Diaco had good things to say about both without saying either set themselves apart.
The much maligned offensive line looked better at times in the opener but falling behind by two scores after five minutes changed the plan for the game significantly.
“I thought we did some good things,” Gus Cruz said, “We made some mistakes but it’s hard to get the running game going when your down and need to throw a great deal.”
After fumbling on the Huskies first play from scrimmage, tailback Max DeLorenzo ran hard, ending the night with 40 yards on nine carries. Freshman Josh Marriner provided a spark on the touchdown drive with runs of six and seven yards before scoring from the one.
UConn had cut the score to 21-7 at that point in the second quarter but Hill and the Cougars responded in a blink of an eye with a five play, 69-yard touchdown drive capped off by a Hill pass to Terenn Houk who did a tight rope routine while staying in bounds near the end zone.
Houk gained 49 yards on the drive and any momentum the Huskies hoped to get back was out the window at the half, down 28-7.
Huskie quarterbacks were sacked four times (Whitmer 3, Cochran 1) by an aggressive BYU defense that sent multiple blitz packages at the Huskies in critical spots.
Jeffers Ashiru and Cam Stapleton combined to sack Hill just once.
Hill completed 28 passes to nine different receivers, good for 308 yards and the three scores while running for another 96 on a dozen carries.
UConn will not see many other quarterbacks of this talent this season and can be thankful for that.
Ansonia native Arkeel Newsome had an up and down game in his first college game.
He looked impressive on an 18-yard screen pass in the first quarter and had a 34-yard kickoff return in the fourth. Newsome was called for a block in the back on one kickoff and got laid out on his first return that went for just 15 yards.
We saw a glimpse of the Newsome push in the fourth quarter when he pushed a pile for seven yards in the fourth quarter.
Geremy Davis, underutilized in the first half, finished with 96 yards on nine catches but 39 of them came late in the game with the outcome decided.
A dozen different UConn wide outs had receptions on Friday night.
NOTES: The Huskies new tradition of having the players enter through the stands is going to take a little while to catch on. When the different groups started down for their warm-ups about an hour bore game time, only a handful of students were in their seats.
An error in printing had the game starting time as eight o’clock. It appeared many folks did not get the word after it was made known as the crowd filtered in later than usual.
The announced crowd was just over 35,000, thanks in part to a large BYU support section.