John F. SilverEAST HARTFORD, Conn. –The athletic director talked about the coaching search and “ramping it up.” The interim head coach said he wanted the head job more than anything besides his family in his life.
There were two school records set in the passing game at a school that has played football for over 100 years, and in the end, a linebacker declared for the NFL Draft.
Just a typical UConn drama free game of course on Saturday.
Casey Cochran threw for a school-record 461 yards and added four touchdowns in UConn’s 45-10 shellacking of Memphis.
His top target was Geremy Davis, a school record 15 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown.
We’ll start with the game, UConn’s third straight win, and the poise, accuracy and quick-decisions of Cochran. Cochran, as everyone has said, written and observed, is a lumbering 6-foot-1 215-pound quarterback that doesn’t have a great arm.
But, quarterbacks aren’t models and Cochran’s ability to make quick reads and put the ball where it needs to be charged the offense like no UConn quarterback has before. Cochran was in a zone and made it look easy against Memphis. He was in a rhythm, in sync with his receivers and in absolute command. He didn’t make a mistake all day.
Players talk a lot about the speed of the game and how fast it is the first time they step on the field. The game was in slow-motion with Cochran on Saturday. It took four games, but he has the pace.
“It did really slow down,” Cochran said. ” I couldn’t tell you half the plays. I got the snap and it happened.”
Cochran shredded Memphis. They couldn’t get to him, and the bubble screens to Deshon Foxx and the slants and posts to Geremy Davis were just too much to handle.
Foxx, who has top shelf speed, finally found a way to be used on bubble screens and short passes. Cochran put the ball right where it needed to be for him to turn up field. He had tow touchdowns, 18 yards in an over the middle pattern and then a 32 yard run off a bubble. That’s 11 catches for 137 yards.
He was the second best receiver in the game.
Germey Davis had a school-record 15 catches and 207 yards. Davis isn’t a speed guy at 6-foot-2, but is a tall and big receiver. Memphis couldn’t cover him. He got open with his physical play, broke some tackles and other plays just went up and got the ball.
“Great day. Everyone did a great job and the offensive line did a great job getting him time,” Davis said. “There were a lot of passes where I bailed Casey out and he bailed me out. We got the No. 1 goal, to win.”
Davis had a stellar junior year. He finished with 71 catches for 1,085 yards. That’s with three quarterbacks throwing to him and not a great running game.
To do that considering UConn’s season is remarkable.
“I am happy for us to go out with a great win,” Davis said. “Next year will be my year to be a senior and I want to make a lesson that it (no bowl) won’t happen again.
This is the kind of offense the Huskies felt they could have. Foxx has speed, physical play from Davis and then shots to the other side. Dhameer Bradley and Briam LeMelle had their chances Saturday and next year with Shakim Phillips coming back, it looks to be a devastating unit.
“Half the catches were (Davis) making a great play and making a play after the catch,” Cochran said. “He can spark something on our offense. I am excited to have him back and all the other weapons.”
“We showed what we can do on offense. We have a lot of guys coming back, the skill positions and a lot of young guys on the offensive line and running backs. It is going to start soon. In next week right back at it.”
The Huskies were among the worst offense in the country this season. On Saturday, there were few better.
* Interim head coach T.J. Weist was impassioned about the job. He wants it, and has lived his entire career for it.
“I couldn’t want it more than anything in my life besides my family,” Weist said.
Players were taking a non-committal approach. The players like Weist, his energy, but they can read the tea leaves just like anyone else. Cochran was the only one who gave public support.
“We have no idea what’s going to happen and who is going to coach us next year” Cochran said. “I hope it’s Coach Weist because we like playing for him. No matter what happens is this team and players will be ready to work and turn this around. We are not going to be satisfied with 3-9.”
Davis and Foxx were both politically correct. Davis clearly has a grasp of the situation Weist’s in.
“I am going to let that handle itself and keep working hard and improve my game,” Davis said. “Whomever comes in or if (current staff) stay, I want them to know they have a hard working player.”
* Yawin Smallwood made the right decision going pro. There is no coach in place, he plays a violent position even by football standards, and he’s hot. What more do you want? He can’t waste a year of earning and body pound on college when it will do nothing to improve his draft stock. I expect Smallwood and DT Shamar Stephen to get drafted.
* The names for UConn’s coach seem to be circular. I don’t know where the names come from, but I have seen and heard and been told a lot of the same names. They may all be coming from the same source. I like them all, Pat Narduzzi, Pete Lembo, Dave Clawson etc.
Warde Manuel talked about offense vs. defense, and while he said he didn’t care, 27 of the last 31 head jobs went to offensive people. Offense sells recruits. Also, Wake Forest’s hiring should expedite UConn’s search IMO. That’s the school that has the same list and is probably paying the same.
I think a coach can win here, and they have QBs, WRS, and RBs that are young and ready to blossom. The next coach is going to have a lot of skill to work with. Just going to have to rebuild those offensive and defensive lines.