EAST HARTFORD – With the nation in a heightened state of watchfulness for potential acts of terrorism, fans attending college football games Saturday were subjected to considerably more scrutiny than usual before being allowed into stadiums.
But the tightened security displayed at the entry gates to Rentschler Field for the game against Rhode Island apparently didn’t extend to the field where the Huskies exhibited poor ball security, fumbling seven times (and losing three) in an easy 52-10 victory over an out-manned URI squad.
“We need to protect the ball more. It’s not about the other team [hitting the ballcarrier], it’s about us protecting the ball,” said UConn tailback Andre Dixon, who gained 98 yards on 17 carries and – less than two minutes into the game – also scored on an 18-yard pass from Cody Endres, the redshirt sophomore quarterback’s first ever for the Huskies.
“We knew coming in that [URI] had forced a lot of turnovers, but we’re the ones who made a lot of mistakes today,” he said.
Coach Randy Edsall agreed with his senior running back’s assessment of the Huskies’ ball security.
“I don’t remember seeing them knocking the ball out of us. I can’t remember all [seven fumbles] off the top of my head, but I only remember them really causing one. We told them during the week they would have to protect the ball,” said Edsall who evened his UConn win-loss mark at 61-61, and set a school record for most games as head football coach.
The game was also the 1,000th played since the program began in 1896 and during that span, Connecticut has compiled a 468-494-38 record.
UConn has faced Rhode Island more than any other opponent and leads the series against the former Yankee Conference rival, 51-35-8.
With the win, UConn improved to 3-1 while the Rams dropped to 1-2.
It’s a great win,” said Edsall. “It was good that we did have more bounce in terms of what we were looking for today and that’s something we’re going to have to have, as we go into Big East play, for sure,” he said.
The team has a weekend off before traveling to Pittsburgh on Oct. 10.
Endres needs more confidence
Edsall wouldn’t say whether Endres would quarterback against Pitt, or if the injured Zach Frazer might regain his starting status.
Endres brightened his resume by hitting on 23 of 30 passes for 289 yards and throwing for two scores against the Rams-a 50-yarder to Mike Lang that made the score 38-7 late in the third quarter, along with the 18-yard strike to Dixon.
“The line did a good job protecting, the receivers did a great job getting open and it felt pretty good out there today,” said Endres, whose chores as a passer were made that much easier as the Rams butted up against the line to stop the potent UConn running game. “They were stacking the box pretty good,” he said.
However, Endres was sacked three times and was involved in several of the seven fumbles.
“It’s disappointing that we did give up three sacks,” said Edsall, adding that Endres “has got to have the confidence to throw the ball up, even if his receivers aren’t wide open and let them make the play. There were a lot more positives than there were negatives in his play today. That’s all part of the development and the growth of Cody as a quarterback,” Edsall said.
Todman on the attack
While Endres was striking by air, sophomore Jordan Todman was attacking on the ground, rushing for 70 yards on 15 carries, including a trio of touchdowns, all from within the 10-yard line.
Dixon said he didn’t mind at all that his running mate got the calls from close in.
“I’m a team player and I’m going to give it my best effort whenever my name is called, whether it’s for a touchdown or to try to get a first down” or just to run out the clock, Dixon said.
All in all, the victory was a true team effort, not only by the offense, but on defense as well, as the Huskies – bolstered by a pair of interceptions by senior cornerback Robert McClain – stopped URI on 14 of 15 third downs and on both fourth-down tries.
“That was huge,” Edsall said. “There were a lot of positives, but there’s a lot of work we have to do to get better and we will.
“When we execute the basic fundamentals and techniques they’re taught, we’re a pretty good football team. And when we don’t, then we’re not that good,” Edsall said.
And Saturday, the Huskies were a very good football team, so good as a matter of fact that at least half of the near sellout crowd had left the Rent by the time sophomore tailback Robbie Frey had broken away for a couple of fourth-quarter runs (13 and 54 yards) to account for UConn’s final two scores of the game.
Posted Sept. 26, 2009