UConn pregame football, halftime hoops

John F. Silver

It’s UConn day on ESPN with the men’s hoops team playing Michigan State in Germany and UConn playing football at 8 p.m. against Pittsburgh on ESPN2. 

So, forgive the pregame distractions, but the Huskies had Michigan State by double digits while before going into the half leading 40-33. It’s a tremendous effort from the Huskies, who are using their quickness and tenacity t push the tempo and make the size mismatch irrelevant.

Can they run out of gas? Sure, but it’s a long season and UConn has few games where it can just fire everything they have on an opponent. This was one of those games.  the Huskies hit 11 of 12 shots to open the game, that’s a scorching start and the Huskies ended the half hitting 58 percent from the floor. Shabazz Napier had 14 points, DeAndre Daniels 9. Good start in Germany and the Kevin Ollie era.

That leads us to tonight’s game. The Huskies still have mathematical hope of a bowl game, and with  a win can go into another bye week with an eye towards undefeated Louisville. That would be a fun scenario.

An unfun scenario? That would be another loss tonight. It’s going to be chilly and there is some win. It would be nice for UConn’s running game to show up here at Rentschler Field.

Here’s today’s advance in the Journal Inquirer: Under the gun

Whitmer looks out of place after a game. As the 6-foot-5, 250-plus-pound behemoths pass by, the 6-1, 195-pound Whitmer immediately steps out and waits to speak to the media. Whitmer doesn’t even have to be told to hang around. He gets his say win or lose. That’s the quarterback position.

Clad in a suit with black glasses and a bow-tie neatly constructed around his neck, Whitmer could be mistaken for a college professor. The red welts across his face tell a different story. Those are the signs of a quarterback’s exertion during a game. Often times, the finely dressed Whitmer looks beaten down at what’s happening to the 3-6 Huskies.

And that’s just the anecdotal evidence. The hard stats back up an equally grim story.

Teams have sacked UConn quarterbacks 24 times in 9 games for an average of 2.78 per game, 100th in the nation. That’s actually an improvement from a year ago when UConn was ranked 117th in the nation in sacks allowed. The difference isn’t better blocking, it’s better escaping. Whitmer has proven adept at moving around the pocket to escape the pass rush. Teams are targeting Whitmer because an ineffective running game has led to pass-only situations, leaving the sophomore as a sitting duck.