Mulcahy’s Report Card
Former UConn defensive end and SNY studio analyst Sean Mulcahy grades UConn’s 23-20 triple overtime win over Louisville.
Mulcahy’s comments: Chandler Whitmer went 7 for 21 with one interception for 72 yards. His final grade will be incomplete since he sustained a head injury and could not finish the game. Prior to the head injury he did not look sharp, albeit he didn’t need to be sharp with the O-Line blocking well for Lyle McCombs and the team rushing for 150 yards. Whitmer didn’t look settled in the pocket and couldn’t find his targets with the accuracy we have seen in the past. For instance, Ryan Griffin only got two targets, not enough. The leading receiver was the other tight end, John Delahunt. Four receivers tied for the team lead with two receptions, and there were only nine completions on a team total of 28 attempts. Johnny McEntee came off the bench and looked like the experienced back-up any program wants and led the team to victory with a corner route completion to Shakim Phillips for Phillips’ first career touchdown. McEntee was 2-of-7 for 20 yards and no interceptions and no sacks with a very important touchdown. That throw from McEntee was top notch as his initial receiver, Mike Smith, was covered. McEntee read through the progressions and executed a good throw. Considering the circumstances and that he had spent the season on the bench, it was very impressive.
Comments: Lyle McCombs looked fresh, fast, and was fun to watch. This late in the season McCombs probably weighs around 155-pounds, but he is the toughest lightweight running back I have seen in years. He averaged 4.6 yards on 29 carries for 133 yards carrying the team on his back. In addition, he had two important catches for 32 yards, one going for 17 yards. Time and time again on Saturday you could see McCombs deliver the blow to the would be tackler and not absorbing the collision, but providing the hit. Then, just when you thought he would put his head down he would throw a spin move in or a juke move like a video game. He looked like the freshman All-American we saw last year. Scott McCummings, Max DeLorenzo and Nick Williams all had positive yardage with Williams being the biggest run in regulation for the Huskies’ only touchdown until overtime. The team rushed for 150 yards, a credit to the offensive line, receivers, tight end’s and offensive coordinator George DeLeone.
Comments: Shakim Phillips had two catches for seven yards with one very big touchdown in overtime. Geremy Davis had two catches for 11 yards with one catch becoming a big first down to gain confidence on the offense and sustain a drive. Mike Smith had a nice six-yard catch as well. That is all this group did in the receiving category, but their contributions in the running game with perimeter blocking cannot be overlooked. Hopefully, they get more targets in the Cincinnati game this coming Saturday and with it more production.
Comments: Glad to see John Delahunt leading the team in catches, he is underrated. Too bad he only had two catches for 36 yards. One was a Mark Bavaro-like 26-yard romp where he broke several tackles. The other tight end, Ryan Griffin, blocked very well to help the running game. I was disappointed to see Griffin with no catches. UConn is lucky to have won the game without including their top receiver in the passing game. Good thing he can block well.
Comments: I like where this group is heading. They have improved greatly in the month of November. One critique I would have is the pass protection could be a bit better. Other than that, the run game with toughness has helped UConn win the last two important games. The credit must go to the line that has lost its top lineman in Adam Masters, but has had two straight games where McCombs has rushed for over 100 yards. It’s not a coincidence that UConn has won the last two games with those numbers.
Comments: Just like the O-Line, the defesnive line is improving every week with tremendous effort upfront. I have no issues with this group. They led the way limiting the Cardinals to 27 yards rushing. Trevardo Williams extended his Big East lead with three more sacks, almost had four, but got injured on that attempt though he finished with 3.5 TFL’s and seven tackles. Ryan Wirth has been a beast coming down the stretch here with six tackles, two TFL’s and one sack. Julian Campenni had a huge sack to go along with a couple of tackles. Shamar Stephen is a fantastic run stopper with a lot of help from Angelo Pruitt and each had a tackle. B.J. McBryde and Tim Willman were rock solid filling in for Williams when he went down. Kudos to my man and defensive coordinator Hank Hughes.
Comments: These three; Jory Johnson, Sio Moore, and Yawin Smallwood have to be a top five line-backing corps in the country. They are smart, great leaders, and so tough. Smallwood and Johnson each had 11 tackles. Smallwood had two TFL’s and Johnson had a half of one. Moore had five tackles, 1.5 TFL’s, one PBU, and one QB hit that knocked Teddy Bridgewater out for quite some time. Great performance, pressure, and discipline. Kudos to linebackers coach Jon Wholley.
Comments: The two seniors Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gratz had amazing games. First, Wreh-Wilson solidified the opportunity to win in the third overtime with a well-positioned interception. He had five tackles and FOUR pass break-ups. Gratz got toasted on two huge plays that let the Cards back in the game but he also personifies how a defensive back should play with a short-term memory. He came back like a senior leader should and led the team with eight solo tackles, 11 total and three PBU’s. Safety Byron Jones played very well from his safety position with six tackles. Ty-Meer Brown had two tackles and a big PBU. Teams have tried to pick on Taylor Mack. It didn’t work Saturday. He has improved as the season has gone on and finished with five tackles. Good support from Wilbert Lee and David Kenney
Comments: Chad Christen was 3-for-3 in field goals with the game-winner. There was also solid punt coverage and that was a necessity considering Cole Wagner had 10 punts. Wagner averaged almost 44 yards per punt with one inside the 20, two touch-backs and a long of 50 yards. Very solid. The Huskies need more in the punt return game. Kickoffs were good and returns average.
Comments: Pass/Fail grade and a win is a pass. Still, no 4th quarter points in regulation in the last 7 games and 3 points in the second half in the last 6 games… scary bad.