THE SILVER LINING
The UCONN football team is 0-5. The positive vibes of the new era, the era of T.J. Weist as interim coach and true freshman Tim Boyle as the starting quarterback, faded into a Saturday loss to South Florida at Rentschler Field. Now the silver lining.
The Huskies saved the best for last, and I’m not talking about the fact that Boyle’s last pass of the day, a “Hail Mary” to the end zone, actually got to the hands of intended reciever Geremy Davis, even though he was surrounded by a gang of defenders. The best came later, when Weist entered the media room and laid a loss, that could have just as easily been a win, on his own shoulders. He got around to mentioning some dropped passes by veteran skill people, including at least three that had touchdown written all over them, and some early jitters that may have caused Boyle to overthrow the ball a couple of times, but he never made this loss about those factors.
“It comes down to the head coach”, will go down as the first post game words T.J. Weist ever offered to the media, “This loss is on me. It’s my responsibility to do whatever it takes to win this game and we didn’t do it.”
Weist wasn’t just taking a bullet to deflect from an effort that produced just one failed field goal attempt in six second half possessions, along with four punts and the game ending “Hail Mary”, his role in this loss was there for all to see in the closing seconds, when he thought the clock was going to stop at 16 seconds, but it kept moving. He squandered at least time enough for one play, perhaps two, with his clock management on the final possession, and he owned up to it. “I disapproved of my execution on that last drive of the game”, he said, “we were put in a position where we moved the ball downfield, we needed a field goal, and I hesitated making a call. We didn’t get it in on time. That’s on me, there’s no hiding from any of that.”
There wasn’t an excuse to be found anywhere is his post game summation. A rookie head coach made a rookie mistake. Move on. And he says they will. They aren’t going to be patient waiting for a win. They will, however, be patient with their kid quarterback. “Tim Boyle played an exceptional game for a true freshman”, was Weist’s initial assesment, “He made some throws early that could have made the difference in this game if some of our skill peoiple could have made the catches.”
He said boyle not only performed like a quarterback, he had the look of a quarterback when he came to the sidelines, “stone cold” Weist said.
“As a quarterback you can’t let bad plays get into your head”, said Boyle, with all the poise of a proven veteran, “If I could go back and change the last play I would, but that’s not possible. As a quarterback you need to be mentally strong and turn the page and not let the last play effect you. You move on to the next play.”
He stood tall in the pocket, threw many of his passes under control, flatfooted and on target. He knew when and where to go when he took it down. He threw into cover-2 defenses with trailing defenders that require pinpoint accuracy to get the ball over the defenders, into the hands of the recievers, and he showed the ability to do so.
The UCONN defense had that look about it again, the look that gained them national respect in years past, allowing no offensive touchdowns, and Lyle McCombs showed that the speed and the instincts are intact, taking off for the play of the game, a 52 yard touchdown scamper from scrimmage. The energy they talked about all week was evident, now it’s time to finish.
The Huskies are 0-5, but it’s not all bad. That positive feeling that came from two weeks of change has simply given way to a feeling that the best is yet to come.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.