What’s goin on?
Here’s my report card off the UConn-SMU game in which the Mustangs defeated the Huskies 38-21 behind a strong effort from Mustangs senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert who completed 33 of 52 for 353 yards and four touchdowns.
Line: Not bad. I thought senior defensive ends Tim Willman and Jesse Joseph balled out – uh, gave it everything they had – Ruben Frank, too. Willman had one of the two sacks on SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert. Shamar Stephen, the senior tackle was pretty active and had the other sack. The line got good pressure – just not enough at the right times. C plus
Linebackers: Gilbert threw the ball 52 times so this game was more of a challenge for the defensive backs but there were some plays underneath the unit could have made and there were too many times they were caught inside leading to big runs on the outside. This is the strength of the defense that has to be a huge factor, somehow, some way every game if not as pass defenders or tacklers then certainly as quarterback seekers. C
Secondary: Some disturbing stuff here and has been most of the season, really, including poor tackling by some who are supposed to be sure tacklers D
Line: It did OK considering how it had done. The Huskies rushed for 158 yards and quarterback Casey Cochran was only sacked once. I’ve been bangin’ on this unit all season and for good reason – but not today. C plus
Quarterback: For those who thought Cochran (25 of 42, 227 yards) 2 TDs, 2 INTs would see things differently – like me – with a first team defense coming at him instead of reserves were wrong but you have to wonder if he would have had the same success against say, the first team defense of UCF or Louisville? That being said, interim coach T.J. Weist was right when he said Cochran needed to be faster and make quicker decisions – not to mention getting the ball out of his hands quicker. The receivers can help out with that but he still did all of those things better than the previous two starters. The fourth-quarter TD pass to Davis was the best pass I’ve seen by a UConn QB in a minute, probably since the shot Chandler Whitmer sent to Shakim Phillips in the first quarter against Towson. If you get a chance folks, look at it again, the rope the pass was on, how Davis went up to get it, the defense on him and the moment (pulled UConn to within 28-21 at the time) – it was big-time stuff. The two picks in the fourth quarter, though, were killers. Some improvements needed but the performance, overall, was encouraging as Cochran said. C plus
Running back: Wonder how much different this team, this season, would have been if the Huskies were able to run the ball early in the season. UConn should have been using two backs from the jump in my opinion as well. The offensive line wasn’t ready. Lyle McCombs (17×103) tore SMU up and Max DeLorenzo (15×62) really softened the Mustangs middle by punishing it. The 32 carries combined are good. Can’t say they didn’t run it enough here. B
Wide receivers/tight end: Davis (6×77) caught his first touchdown of the season. Davis caught four passes for 73 yards including a nice 31-yarder in double coverage in the first quarter (only if the Huskies went up top more against SMU). Tight end Sean McQuillan caught his first TD pass too, a one-yarder on fourth and goal in the third quarter. We know the receivers/tight ends can catch. With these guys it’s about making something happen afterward. C plus
The punt and kickoff coverage teams were fine. Kicker Chad Christen missed a 42-yarder into the wind in the first quarter. Punter Cole Wagner had a 60-yarder in the first and a 14-yarder with the Huskies down 28-21 in the fourth which led to am SMU field goal. C