When Tulsa and UConn entered H.A. Chapman Stadium Saturday night, barring a lengthy lightning delay or a meteor strike, one team was guaranteed to leave with their first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) win of the season.
For the eighth frustrating week in a row, UConn failed to achieve this goal, falling to the Golden Hurricane 49-19.
Like recent losses against USF and UMass, UConn (1-8, 0-5 The American) started out the game with a purpose, scoring the first 10 points of the game and shutting Tulsa (2-7, 1-4 The American) out in the first quarter, but it failed to repeat that down the stretch.
“I’m trying to figure out how we can play the way we played in the first quarter, both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, and then just can’t do it consistently for the next two quarters especially,” head coach Randy Edsall said.
UConn forced a Tulsa three-and-out on their first offensive possession, immediately gave the ball back on a Kevin Mensah fumble, recovered a Tulsa fumble at the goal line, and Pindell fired an 80-yard strike to receiver Kyle Buss for six on the first play of the drive.
UConn would forced a turnover on downs on the next Tulsa possession, drove down to the Tulsa 30 and kicked a field goal, making it 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
That be right around where the positives of the game dried up for the Huskies. Tulsa scored touchdowns on their next seven possessions: 49 points in two quarters effectively wiped the Huskies off of the map.
It was in these drives that Tulsa’s usual rushing attack was able to do the bulk of their work. The Tulsa offensive line got to the second level with ease, a scary concept for a team facing running backs of the Golden Hurricane’s caliber.
Tulsa’s usual combo of Corey Taylor Jr. and Shamari Brooks combined for 294 yards on the ground, averaging 8.9 and 7.4 yards per carry respectively. Freshman back TK Wilkerson got the first snaps of his college career in garbage time and had a frighteningly-efficient 95 yards on just six carries.
“That was a matter of guys not playing their gaps correctly in the run game, guys not sitting where they should, missed tackles, and it cost us,” Edsall said.
As Tulsa started piling on yards and points, UConn’s offensive mistakes started to quickly accumulate as well. Receiver Hergy Mayala was wide open at the goal line to close out the first half, but was overthrown by Pindell. Three holding penalties and a sack would force UConn to punt on 4th and 40 later in the next quarter.
Pindell finished the day 14 of 28, with 232 yards and two touchdowns, adding 159 yards on the ground. Buss posted the most impressive statline of the day for the Huskies, with six catches for 129 yards and the aforementioned touchdown.
With the game well in hand for the other team by the third quarter, Edsall started to experiment with lineups, getting different players some snaps as the season comes to a close. Running back Dante Black got his first carry of his college career, a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter.
UConn will have to wait until next Saturday at noon against SMU at Rentschler field to attempt to collect their second win of the season.
“If we got the performance that we got in the first quarter for four quarters, we’d be where we’d wanna be, but we didn’t get that,” Edsall said. “So that’s just something we’ll continue to improve upon.”
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.