JOE D’S NOTEBOOK
TOWSON, THE AFTERMATH: Is disappointing a strong enough word to describe Thursday’s season opener for the UConn Football team? I’m not sure. But it is one that is being bandied about this morning. A lot of people, myself included, thought Towson could beat UConn in Game One. But beat them as thoroughly as they did, 33-18? Nope, didn’t see that one coming.
To me, the game came down to the men up front. And Towson’s offensive and defensive front lines clearly outplayed their counterparts from UConn. The Towson O-Line was as good, if not better than advertised. They dominanted the Huskies defensive front four. They made holes for Terrance West, who showed why he is considered one of the best backs in FCS. The Tigers ran the ball 50 times, only three times did they have a negative yardage play.They gave starting qb Peter Athens time to throw, he wasn’t sacked once and I’m not sure he was hurried all that much.Athens, who was a starter as a freshman before tearing up a knee, was able to pick out Spencer Wilkins and Leon Kinnard for big plays.
The Towson defensive line stifled UConn. They sacked Chandler Whitmer five times, several of them on three step drops. When a quarterback is sacked on a five or seven step drop, you can often give credit to the defensive backs. When it’s a three step drop, it’s a combination of good work by the defensive line and less than adequate work by the offensive line.UConn had only two runs of 10 yards or more, one was a reverse and one was a terrific 22 yard effort by McCombs where he more deftly and used his free hand to keep his balance.
The one int thrown by Whitmer was a terrific athletic play by Jon Desir. He and his fellow defensive ends, Drew Cheripko and Bloomfield’s Ryan Delaire, played extremely well.
I didn’t think Whitmer had a bad game but he made a couple of shaky throws. I thought McCombs ran better than he did a year ago. I thought wide outs Geremy Davis and Shakim Phillips played well.. I thought Obi Melinfonwu played extremely well for his first game and I thought Yawin Smallwood was Yawin Smallwood with 16 tackles. But other than that, it would be hard to name an individual who played well.
More troubling were some mental mistakes that were inexcusable , fumbling a snap on 4th and 1, a delay penalty on the first play of a series and the illegal substitution penalty on 3rd and goal from the Towson 1. The excuse that it was the opening game doesn’t work, Towson didn’t make any of those types of mistakes..
Credit to old friend Rob Ambrose and his kids, they played a helluva game, I am sure the long overnight bus ride home to Baltimore didn’t seem so long for them after their performance. But for UConn, it will be a long two weeks before Randy Edsall and Maryland come to the Rent.
But remember folks, it’s just one game. But one that left a lot of people shaking their heads.