Last Thursday, I was invited to be a part of a podcast episode of Maize n’ Brew, the SB Nation site of the University of Michigan Wolverines, previewing the UConn football team ahead of their matchup at Michigan Stadium.
One of the questions toward the end of the episode involved predicting how many points the Huskies would score against the Wolverines. I told the host, Trevor Woods, that UConn would score around 14 points. Given the new culture from head coach Jim Mora, I did not think the Huskies were going to get shut out like they used to. I knew UConn was going to lose, but I at least thought they would going to convert a field goal.
Then came the opening kickoff on Saturday afternoon. Michigan won the coin toss and elected to receive the kick, a rarity in today’s game. They found the endzone on four plays in a little over two minutes and UConn responded by going three and out.
The rest of the game just happened from there.
Other things that happened included UConn turning the ball over on a fumble, Michigan taking a punt return to the house and a loyal Huskies fan in blue and white holding up four fingers. The Wolverines did not score on eight out of their first nine drives although they did score nine times (eight touchdowns and a field goal).
UConn earned $1.8 million and got embarrassed on national television by the No. 4 team in the country, 59-0.
In that same podcast episode, I was asked to name some impact players for the Huskies. I did not hesitate to name running back Nathan Carter, quarterback Zion Turner and linebacker Jackson Mitchell. Woods complimented UConn as a team with more National-Football-League-ready players than the Wolverines’ previous opponent, the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
None of those statements were true on the football field that Saturday afternoon.
Z. Turner threw 16 passes the entire game. He completed four of them for 17 yards. He did rush for 42 yards on seven carries, thus showing his abilities to scramble. Carter ran for 21 yards on six carries, missing most of the game after he separated his shoulder in the first quarter. Whether Carter misses any time due to the injury remains unknown, but if he does, it would be a huge loss to the running game.
Victor Rosa got most of the snaps with the rest of the department banged up and finished with 23 yards on 14 carries. Although he did not see the field Cam Edwards was the next man up on the depth chart. Edwards, who wore number zero, has experience as a running back as that was his position on the New Haven Register All-State First Team.
The receiving corps needs improvement. Aaron Turner was the only receiver who caught two passes and he took them for three yards. Nigel Fitzgerald and Robert Burns had 12 yards on two receptions combined.
Mitchell had 10 tackles, which ups his season total to 49, but not even he looked like the best defensive player. Brandon Bouyer-Randle had five tackles, a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. Eric Watts had the next best game defensively as he finished with one-half less tackles for loss than Bouyer-Randle.
The Wolverines dominated the game so much, they had seven quarterbacks take at least a snap during the game. Aside from JJ McCarthy (15/18, 214 yards) and Cade McNamara (1/1, 18 yards), Michigan turned to Alan Bowman (1/1, 20 yards and a touchdown), Brandon Mann (1/1, seven yards), Alex Orji (1/1, five yards), Davis Warren (1/2, five yards) and Andy Maddox (1/1, four yards). The Wolverines quadrupled the amount of first downs and total yards that UConn had.
Blake Corum looked like a Heisman Trophy candidate as he rushed for 71 yards with five (you are reading that correctly) touchdowns. Entering the 2021 season, only one Michigan running back scored five touchdowns in a game ever (that honor belongs to Ron Johnson, who reached that mark in 1968). Both Hassan Haskins (against the Ohio State University) and Corum have added their names to the list since and done it in the Big House.
But enough about that contest. Mora’s six-second game plan already has the Huskies focusing on their next opponent.
After a home win against the Texas Tech University Red Raiders, the North Carolina State University Wolfpack are now ranked No. 12 in the country. As a result, this will be the Huskies’ third road game against a top-15 team in the last two seasons.
The true test over these next few weeks is durability. The hype around the Husky Revolution has taken a step back after consecutive weeks of getting blown out of the water. Players are unfortunately getting hurt in bunches and the team as a whole has not played or looked that great.
Through the pain and the beatdowns, the Huskies have to show resilience and that they can stick with the best of the best. They did it against the Utah State University Aggies, a team who had received AP votes at the time, and I believe that they can do it again.
There is still a lot of work to do, but this is already a major improvement from last season’s squad. It will be some time before the Huskies become relevant in football for a sustained period, but the fans will reap the rewards when that time comes.
This is the hardest part of UConn’s schedule, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel after a tough home game against the Fresno State University Bulldogs. Although everyone expects the Wolfpack to win at Carter-Finley Stadium, if there is even a semblance of fight and effort from the Huskies, then I believe that the fans will invest their time to watching this team for the rest of the season.