What a difference a week makes!
Coming off the worst defensive performance in school history, the UConn defense stood tall in the fourth quarter and helped preserve the Huskies first conference win in nine games and their first road win since 2015 (also nine games) with their 28-24 win at Temple.
After the embarrassment of the week before, the defense set the tone on the first series by forcing Temple to go three and out. But they save their best effort for the fourth quarter. After the Owls had it first and goal at the UConn three, the defense help Temple to a field goal. Then they forced a three and out in a series starting at the Temple 42, held on fourth and three on their own 24 with 4:31 to play and then after Temple reached the UConn 44 in the final half minute, limited the Owls to two yards on four pass plays to seal the deal.
Plus, UConn ,which had forced only two turnovers in the first five games, forced two on Saturday. Jordan Swann forced a fumble that Marshe Terry returned 32 yards to the Owls nine to set up the second of three short Bryant Shirreffs touchdown passes. And then Tyler Coyle, back in the starting lineup due to injury, recorded a 34 yard pick six that turned into UConn’s final points of the game. Playing without an ailing Jamar Summers and two injured starters , the secondary started three true freshman ,a red shirt freshman, and Tre Bell who had lost his starting job . The revamped second secondary stood up to the test. I thought Luke Carrezola had his best game of the season at defensive end and middle linebacker Junior Joseph had double digit tackles for the 4th straight game.
Look, no one is confusing the Temple offense with USF, UCF or Memphis BUT the Owls were coming off their best game of the year so give UConn credit for making adjustments and the necessary improvements to win.
The Huskies offense did just enough to win. Shirreffs threw the three short touchdown passes and had a big 49 yard run in the fourth quarter. And UConn was much better on third down and in fact converted their first four third down opportunities.
You know the Huskies were hurting after Memphis. Their pride was damaged, their confidence shattered. But they refused to look in the rear view mirror and instead bounced back. Last year after their worst loss of the season, they got shutout at home by Temple. This year after their worst loss of the season, they came back to beat Temple. Forget that this year’s Temple team is nowhere near as a good as last season. The difference in the two years is just more proof that this team is headed in the right direction and the program is in good hands…the right hands.
Up next on Saturday on Homecoming a first ever meeting with Tulsa which blasted Houston. Join us for the Randy Edsall Coaches Show at Grille 86 in Storrs Center on Wednesday night at 6.