UConn comes out flat against Towson pass rush
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013 01:08
The UConn football team opened the regular season with a 33-18 loss to Towson at Rentschler Field. Thursday night’s defeat is the first time the Huskies have lost to a Football Championship Subdivision team since they became a full Football Bowl Subdivision program in 2002. UConn is now 0-2 all-time against the Tigers.
Coach Paul Pasqualoni said on Sunday that the Huskies were not going to overlook their FCS opponent, noting that a FCS team beats a FBS team every season, and usually a Colonial Athletic Association team is the one to do it. Knowing they were up against a quality opponent, regardless of division alignment, no one on the Huskies was caught off guard.
“I don’t think they [surprised us],” quarterback Chandler Whitmer said. “We respected them; we knew they were a great opponent. We just didn’t come out clicking like we needed to.”
Whitmer starts strong, faces pressure in second half
All eyes were on Whitmer and the UConn offense at the start of Thursday’s game. Early on, the junior quarterback did not disappoint. Whitmer went into the locker room having completed nine of 15 passes for 129 yards with a touchdown pass to Shakim Phillips and an interception.
Whitmer faced increased pressure in the second half, as the Huskies’ line, dealing with the absence of Kevin Friend, who was not ready to go after concussion evaluations, on the right side, was unable to keep the Tigers off him. He finished the game 16-for-28 passing for 206 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
“They were getting good pass rush,” Whitmer said. “Maybe I could have gotten the ball out faster, whatever I had to do, but we just couldn’t get it done.”
Friend’s absence on the line was a devastating loss for the Huskies. Whitmer was sacked five times – three times in the second half – and most of the Tigers’ pressure came from the right side of the offensive line. UConn was forced to play Xavier Hemingway at right tackle in Friend’s absence, the first action Hemingway has seen since the opening game of 2012 against UMass.
Melifonwu a bright spot in an otherwise dreary performance
UConn safety Andrew Adams will miss the majority of the 2013 season due to shoulder surgery in the preseason, meaning redshirt freshman Obi Melifonwu is a No. 1 safety on the depth chart. Melifonwu made his debut on Thursday night and proved to be one of UConn’s few bright spots – recording 11 tackles, one and a half for a loss and he grabbed his first career interception in the first half.
“I thought Obi made a really good play on the interception,” Pasqualoni said. “I think overall as the game went on he got better. He came down; he made some plays; he made some tackles. So overall I thought he had, for a freshman, for a first time, a pretty good first game.”
The quotable Paul Pasqualoni
Pasqualoni when asked about the illegal substitution penalty after Lyle McCombs landed just short of the endzone, “I don’t know.”