Football: Huskies Outclassed in Sour Southern showing


Before Saturday, in UConn football’s past 33 games away from Rentschler Field, the Huskies mustered just three wins. Connecticut’s latest game against Georgia State contributed to that streak and gave many the same ‘here we go again’ feeling that has been synonymous with UConn football.  

“That’s not the football team that I see every day in meetings and practice,” head coach Jim Mora said of his Huskies. “But unfortunately, that’s the team we are. The scoreboard tells the story of who you are. We’re an 0-2 football team that just got beat 35-14 by Georgia State. We were pitiful on offense, we weren’t good enough on defense, we turned the ball over. The reality is, that’s the football team we are right now. That’s not the football team I hope to become, but in order for us to get better, everybody has to look right here. We have a lot of soul searching to do.” 

UConn struggled in most facets of the game. The Huskies were penalized for nearly three times as many yards as the Panthers, turned the ball over three times, had trouble defending the rush and most notably couldn’t find any flow on the ground offensively.  

“[Georgia State] tackled really well, but that’s no excuse,” noted Mora. “For us to run 31 times for 50 yards, you’d have thought we were playing the ‘85 Bears. Give them credit, because they did a hell of a job, but we didn’t execute and we didn’t call the right plays, we didn’t practice the right looks, we didn’t script right. It falls on all of us to do better.” 

The Huskies’ defense started the game on a solid note, forcing a three and out, but the offense provided no support in response. With the Connecticut defense back on the field just six plays after they made a stop, Georgia State quarterback Darren Grainger began to apply pressure. Although his first two rushes resulted in one lone yard, he opened up the passing game with a big third down conversion. On the very next play, Grainger took the snap and bolted towards a sizable hole his offensive line created, outrunning everyone for a 65 yard touchdown. 

“We got out of our gap and you can’t get out of your gap when you’re playing a quarterback like that,” Mora said of the play. “The guy has really good speed and he can fly straight. He’s not as shifty as [NC State QB Brennan Armstrong], but he’s fast.” 

The Huskies put together a nine play drive well into Panther territory, but penalties pushed them back towards midfield. Turning adversity into disaster, Connecticut’s third and long play ended in a fumble.  

Fortunately for UConn, Georgia State gave the ball right back to the Huskies on a fumble of their own. The biggest play of the Huskies’ subsequent drive was a defensive pass interference, accounting for 13 of the team’s 17 yards. Forced to try a 48 yard field goal, kicker Joe McFadden missed the uprights left, leaving Connecticut empty once again. 

UConn’s next drive wasn’t much better. The Huskies managed two first downs, but quarterback Joe Fagnano took a blow to his throwing shoulder on a rush. He tried to tough it out on third down, but couldn’t throw the ball properly and was forced to leave the game. 

Fagnano hadn’t done much up to that point, attempting nine passes and nine carries. He managed just 74 yards across those attempts, with the offense generally stale. The Maine transfer didn’t have the start to the season he likely hoped for, still without a touchdown in the air or on the ground. 

The Husky defense did their part to give backup QB Ta’Quan Roberson the ball quickly, allowing just one yard in three plays. With the Panthers punting, kick returner and wide receiver Brett Buckman let the ball slip through his hands. Georgia State recovered and scored six plays later. 12 plays after that, the score was 21-0, with Connecticut showing no life going into the half. 

Coming out of the locker room, UConn needed answers. Instead, they were left with more questions as they managed four plays before kicking it away. Starting at their own eight yard line, the Panthers had a chance to effectively ice the game. Following 15 snaps, 7.5 minutes and 92 yards, running back Marcus Carroll waltzed into the end zone to make it a four score contest. 

With Georgia State moving to a prevent defense, the Huskies finally began to show life in the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdown passes, including an excellent grab by Buckman. It was ultimately too little, too late, as Georgia State emerged with the 35-14 victory. 

This was an uncharacteristic effort from the Huskies in the Jim Mora era. Although they’re 1-6 now on the road since he took over, this is the most listless they’ve looked. If the offense can stay on the field longer, the defense will have an easier time making stops. There’s any number of fixes that need to be made, but finding energy on the road and minimizing the self-inflicted errors is mission critical. 

Unlike last year, the team needs to win away from home if they want to play in a bowl game. The path still exists, but losing this game to a consensus bottom-20 team is a bad sign. It’s easy to panic and decide that the sky is falling, but the reality is that there’s time to fix these problems. Last year’s Huskies started 1-4.  

If they can clean up their sloppy play and find an offensive rhythm, the wins are on the table. If not, it’s going to be a long season. The Huskies’ chance to turn things around starts this Saturday at home against FIU, a team they beat on the road last year.  

Leave a Reply