UConn got a much-needed 24-17 win over Pittsburgh at Rentschler Field Friday night.
The Huskies squandered at 24-0 first half lead though and have now been outscored 76-3 in the second halves of ballgames since Week 4 – but they won and as previously mentioned it was a much needed win. Anyway, onto the report card.
Held Pitt to 121 yards in the first half, huge with a productive offense to boot. Pitt blew up in the second half and finished with 350 total yards but the Panthers were a one-dimensional team all night and those are a little easier to defend – a little.
Line: Tailback Ray Graham was held to 41 yards on 15 carries and from the looks of things he probably took a couple dings home, too. UConn gave that kid some shot’s Friday and he took ‘em but it didn’t help the Panthers. Quarterback Tino Sunseri was sacked three times with Tim Willman getting to him once ( you know, Willman is really starting to show himself on that line). Now UConn let Sunseri pull a couple Houdinis but he does that to a lot of teams. Bottom line, the line did well but will have to be better against Louisville. For now the unit gets a B
Linebackers: Yawin Smallwood (nine tackles), Sio Moore (six tackles, two sacks) and Jory Johnson (six tackles) were monsters against Pitt. Moore almost pulled off an unable play with a bat down of a Sunseri pass in the end zone where he almost made the interception, too. Moore had a shot at one or two more as well. This unit is one of the best around when all three of these guys are on top of their games B plus
Secondary: Solid in the first half, far from perfect in the second but the secondary kept everything in front. Sunseri was certainly looking to expose the Huskies deep but between the pressure and coverage he was limited there. Sunseri is a good quarterback. He’s gonna make plays and so are those receivers. B minus
Well, what can you say here except UConn is a different team when Nick Williams is blowing past people in the return game. Ooh the David Stevenson block in the back on the late return hurt. The Huskies would have added to their second-half point total in games but it wasn’t meant to be. What was also good to see was the Huskies were a little more solid in the coverage game. Chad Christen came through on the 29-yarder he was called on to make in the first quarter. B plus
The Huskies scored 24 first-half points and Lyle McCombs topped the 100-yard mark for the second time this season – all thanks to very good play by the oft-criticized offensive line.
Quarterback: Chandler Whitmer (19 of 25, 213 yards, 1 TD) was outstanding on the late third-down conversion pass to Shak Phillips. It secured the win, like Jordan Todman getting the two or three yards he needed on fourth down in the fourth quarter to secure the win the last time Pitt was here in 2010. Funny how things work. Anyway, Whitmer showed how effective he can be with time and poise. Now the late pick? I like the aggressive call but I can also understand Whitmer seeing a wide open target and being too excited to hit him. That’s what happened. B
Running back: It could have really helped this team early on if it shuffled different backs in a little more. Would love to see more of Max DeLorenzo and Martin Hyppolite as the season winds down, too, but Lyle McCombs (29×125, 1 TD) was the Lyle McCombs we have seen before Friday night but hadn’t seen in a while. What a difference the offense can make when he’s doing his thing. B plus
Wide receiver: For the most part, made big catches when they needed to be made. This unit always had the potential to be good. Phillips led the way with five catches for 52 yards. Mike Smith had a big 27-yard catch in this one, too. All of Nick Williams three grabs (31 yards) were big. B
Tight end: I’m running out of words to describe Ryan Griffin (6×84, 1 TD) A
Line: Nice job in the first half, some struggles in the second. For what it needed to do Friday night… the line was good enough B minus