According to David Pindell, the last time he put up an offensive performance like he did on Saturday was on Dec. 3, 2016.
That was when the UConn starting quarterback passed 40 times for 279 yards and four touchdowns for Lackawanna Community College in a losing effort against Mesa Community College in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Valley of the Sun Bowl.
“In our bowl game vs. Mesa, we lost 49-42 in double overtime on a Hail Mary,” Pindell said. “It came down to the last second here and in that game it came down to the last five, ten seconds there, and they made a play.”
Pindell was junior college All-American that year, got named National Player of the Week three times in 12 games and the Eagles didn’t rely as much on him that season nearly as much as UConn has this year.
Pindell has accounted for nine of UConn’s 11 touchdowns and 78 percent of the Huskies total offense so far in 2018.
This was readily apparent on Saturday, when he had the best performance of his career. The senior transfer was all over the field, completing 20 of 27 passes for 308 yards and four touchdowns, adding two more scores and 137 yards on the ground.
“He better get an IV or do something, get enough fluids in him,” head coach Randy Edsall said after the game. “If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where we would be.”
It couldn’t have been a more different game than the last time Pindell faced a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent in Rentschler Field. In his first game as a starter in the white and blue, UConn was down 20-7 to Holy Cross at the half and Pindell was pulled after a turnover which led to a Crusaders score.
Pindell worked tirelessly all summer to make the most of his second chance as a starter for the Huskies, and it has showed so far this season.
The UConn offense has been running at about the same clip as last year from an efficiency standpoint: 5.1 yards per play as opposed to 5.3 in 2017, despite playing two top 25 teams and having to learn an entirely new offensive scheme under new offensive coordinator John Dunn.
Pindell looked completely at ease in the pocket in Dunn’s system on Saturday, dropping the ball over defenders hitting his targets in stride and picking the perfect time to take off and run, barely getting touched by Rhode Island defenders.
“When you know what’s going on and you know the offense well, it makes the game slow down for you,” Pindell said. “That’s what coach Dunn helped me out with over the summer, putting the offense together into something that’s more comfortable for me.”
Pindell didn’t care a lick about his personal statistics after the game, crediting the offensive line and skill players with his success. So, were his teammates particularly impressed with his performance?
“Not really, you see that in practice from him every day. I mean, it’s something you just expect out of him now,” wide receiver Hergy Mayala said.
Unsurprisingly, you would have to travel pretty far away from East Hartford to find anyone with bad things to say about Pindell after his early season performance.
“Pfft, David? He’s a stud, he’s gonna go far. He’s a leader, even when he doesn’t talk a lot he’s a leader,” running back Kevin Mensah (who had 144 yards and two touchdowns in his own right) gushed. “When we see a guy like that working hard, we’re all gonna look up to him and work hard as well.”
Pindell and the rest of the offense are going to have to work plenty hard if UConn wants to go punch for punch with the rest of the teams on their schedule. The Huskies are the first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team since the turn of the century to give up 2,000 yards of offense in their first three games, but Pindell is confident that he and his playmakers can put them in position to win every week.
“It’s not really a good feeling when you’re on the sideline and you watch your defense get scored on over and over again, but I feel like we’re a really good offense and we can score every time we touch the ball,” Pindell said. “You gotta trust your teammates and trust your defense.”
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.