Postgame news and notes: Huskies put scare into ECU

Greenville, NC, USA; Connecticut Huskies running back Ron Johnson (3) runs with ball during the 3rd quarter against the East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The East Carolina Pirates defeated the Connecticut Huskies 31-21. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Greenville, NC, USA; Connecticut Huskies running back Ron Johnson (3) runs with ball during the 3rd quarter against the East Carolina Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The East Carolina Pirates defeated the Connecticut Huskies 31-21. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

John F. Silver

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Seniors Byron Jones and Geremy Davis hobbled off at the half for the Huskies.

They never returned.

In place, UConn head coach Bob Diaco put in the young-ins. There was sophomore Noel Thomas at wide receiver, redshirt frosh Thomas Lucas at wideout. On the defensive side, true freshman Jamar Summers was in getting an education with sophomore and first-year defensive back John Green also getting time.  On defense, freshmen Forlunso Fatukasi and Cole Ormsby played big roles. True freshman linebacker Luke Carrezola had some major snaps.

UConn is young, that’s not news. UConn has been young since camp broke in August and the growing pains of youth is what the 2014 season is all about.

The beauty of youth though is that one day it suddenly clicks, that’s at least the hope.

UConn almost had it on Saturday at No. 18 East Carolina.

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Recap: East Carolina 31, UConn 21

Result:  No. 18 East Carolina had more than it bargained for in a 31-21 win over UConn on Thursday night in Greenville, N.C.

Need to know: UConn (1-6, 0-4)nearly pulled off a monumental upset, with the game tied in the third quarter after an 88-yard touchdown pass from Chandler Whitmer to Deshonn Foxx. The Huskies had several chances to take the lead, but ECU pulled away late. A 33-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter gave ECU a 24-21 lead, and then, the Huskies’ defense couldn’t get off the field as ECU clinched the game with a  Breon Allen 9-yard touchdown left with 1:38 left in the game. It was an eye-opening performance in the loss nonetheless as UConn was a 28 point underdog and nearly shocked the 18th ranked team in the nation.  The Pirates (6-1, 3-0) ran 100 plays in the game, amassed 580 yards of offense. Shane Carden had 39-for-64 for 445 yards and two touchdowns.  Justin Hardy had 14 catches for 186 yards while Cam Worthy had seven catches for 138 yards.

For the Huskies, Chandler Whitmer had his best game in two years passing 18-30 for 303 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for one himself.  The Huskies played a ton of young players with upperclassmen Byron Jones and Geremy Davis leaving at the half with injury. UConn lost for the fifth straight game, but likely had its best performance of the season considering the opponent.  The offensive line gave Whitmer time and the Huskies had some chances to steal the game.


Links: Box score | AP Recap

Next up: The Huskies head home to play Central Florida on Nov. 1 at Rentschler Field.

Cox taking her time in recruiting process

By Carl Adamec

When A’ja Wilson — the top recruit in the Class of 2014 — went through the process before signing with the University of South Carolina, she said of the rumors and speculation surrounding her, “If you don’t hear it from me or from my parents, don’t believe it.”

Dennis Cox, whose daughter Lauren is the top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2016, would be thrilled if people would follow Wilson’s advice as they keep up with his 16-year-old.
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Reporter’s notebook: Random thoughts and tidbits

John F. Silver

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — UConn heads to East Carolina on Thursday.  

It’s a game that at one time would be treated with great fanfare, but I think now there is some dread on UConn fandom’s behalf. Doing some advance homework, ECU has over 3,300 yards of offense and 274 points scored, UConn is less than half that at 77 points and just a shade over 1,500 yards of offense.

Connecticut Huskies head coach Bob Diaco reacts during the second half of a game against the Temple Owls at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Connecticut Huskies head coach Bob Diaco reacts during the second half of a game against the Temple Owls at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

How is UConn supposed to compete? That’s why you should be tuning in on Thursday for the game in what will be a litmus test for UConn’s defense, and a benchmark for the Huskies program.

UConn head coach Bob Diaco said this week that he has all the ingredients and infrastructure in place to have a championship program. He didn’t like the question, but then gave a great answer to it.

“Infrastructure here is strong, puzzle pieces are here,” Diaco said. “(There are) frustrating mechanics that need to get worked out to have a top flight program. There is no an immovable force. There’s enough things, nothing here will be preventing us from becoming a championship program. That is exciting. Recruiting is going great. There is a lot to recruit too.”

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Commitment to UConn dream come true for Irwin

By Carl Adamec

Bethany Irwin saw the irony.

Thirty years ago, the Branford, Connecticut native chose to play her college basketball at Penn State. On Tuesday, her daughter Kyla — a 6-foot-2 junior forward from State College, Pennsylvania — announced her decision to make an oral commitment to attend the University of Connecticut.
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UConn football: Defensive strides

Temple Owls quarterback P.J. Walker (11) runs the ball against Connecticut Huskies linebacker Cole Ormsby (57) during the first half at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Temple Owls quarterback P.J. Walker (11) runs the ball against Connecticut Huskies linebacker Cole Ormsby (57) during the first half at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

John F. Silver

STORRS, Conn — UConn head coach Bob Diaco looks at his defense and likes what he sees, but he is far from happy.

What?

Diaco criticize the defense? Hasn’t he looked at the other side of the ball?

Yes, he has, but for those with great talents, great things are expected.

UConn football will always be a defensive team. The Huskies went against the trend when they hired a head coach in getting Bob Diaco. If you haven’t heard, offense is all the rage in college football and offensive coaches and play-callers get jobs.

But, if UConn is going to win at the FBS level, be the top team in the American Conference it’s going to do so defensively. The Huskies are in their infancy under Diaco, a former defensive coordinator and that influence is all over the team.

While the offense struggles in nearly all places from execution to identity, the UConn defense knows what it is, and where it is going.

The Huskies are 1-5, but in the last five games have held all their opponents under 302 yards of offense. The defense is ranked No. 4 in the nation in first downs allowed (95), No. 17 in the nation in total offense surrendering 325 yards per game, 28th in rushing defense at 121.2 per game and 18th in the nation in third down conversion percentage defense allowing only 31 percent of conversions. The Huskies make teams move the ball and generally get off the field when given the chance.

But is this a Top 20 dominant defense?

No. No one knows that more than Diaco.

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