For a fleeting moment on Saturday, it looked like the UConn Huskies might be coming of age. On the first play of the fourth quarter at SMU, Bryant Shirreffs floated a perfect pass downfield to Keyion Dixon who ran under the pass and scooted into the end zone for a 59 yard touchdown. When Tyler Davis hauled in a two point conversion, the Huskies had tied the heavily favored Mustangs at 28.
What followed wasn’t pretty. 87 yard, 8 play touchdown drive, blocked punt, 49 yard, 4 play touchdown drive, three sacks in a four play series and a 25 yard, 1 play touchdown drive. SMU 49- UConn 28.
This was one of those games that was closer than the final score would indicate. Even when the Huskies trailed 21-10 at the half, I never had the feeling they were out of the game. UConn moved the ball at will thru the air. Shirreffs became the first quarterback in school history with back to back 400 yard games, throwing for 408 yards and two touchdowns. There is no question that Bryant feels much more comfortable in this offense than in the one he ran the last two seasons. Aaron McLean became the fourth different Husky with at least 100 yards receiving in a game, the first time that has happened in school history. UConn had four pass plays of 40 yards or more, they had three in the first three games. Freshman Darrian Beavers had the first two sacks of his career.
But, that is where the highlights end. UConn couldn’t run the ball, finishing with -8 yards rushing, which is a skewed stat because 8 sacks and a bad center snap factor in. But the four running backs used combined for just 45 net yards in 24 carries. And the defense was again beaten up by the opponents passing game. Two Mustangs, Trey Quinn and Courtland Sutton, each had over 100 yards in receptions. Quinn caught 15 passes. And SMU had 218 yards rushing, breaking off four runs of 20 yards or more.
The road woes continued. UConn has dropped eight straight on the road and this group of players is 3-20 in their career away from the Rent. There is progress being made. But there has to be more consistency to beat a good team. And a good Memphis team, smarting from a whipping at the hands of UCF on Saturday, will be at The Rent on Friday night for a 7 pm kickoff.