UConn football (2-7, 1-4 AAC) returns to action tonight against the Cincinnati Bearcats (6-3, 4-1) at Rentschler Field, with kickoff set for 8PM (CBS Sports Network).
Once again, the Huskies will face a pass-happy offensive attack, led by QB Gunner Kiel, who has the Bearcats ranked 9th in the nation in passing, with 322.7 yards per game. Cincy comes in winners of four straight, by an average margin of 42-20.
The Huskies return to the field following their 3rd and final bye week of the season, after a 35-21 loss to Army at Yankee Stadium, that saw at least 16,000 UConn fans make the trip to New York City. A last minute interception thrown by QB Chandler Whitmer for a touchdown, ended any hopes for the Huskies to get on a winning streak for the first time since they won three straight to close out 2013.
This week, Whitmer, who’s hand was wrapped in ice following the loss to Army, knows he needs to continue to lead, even after the play that occurred to end the game against the Black Knights.
“That one hurt me pretty good for twenty-four hours,” Whitmer said on Tuesday. “I took a lot of responsibility for that and it was a stupid decision that just happened to be in a very crucial moment, which made it even more of a gigantic error.”
The senior QB showed maturity, noting that he has already left that behind him.
“Whether it was a touchdown that was going to tie the game, or the pick that it was, after twenty-four hours you move on and take the bye week to continue to improve,” he added.
Although head coach Bob Diaco said nothing changes heading into this week, the first game after the Huskies were eliminated from postseason play, it’s expected that sophomore QB Tim Boyle will see more snaps than the one drive he has seen through each game since Casey Cochran went down with a career-ending concussion. Whitmer definitely hinted at that on Tuesday.
“We’ve been close since he got here,” Whitmer said on his relationship with Boyle. “I think he’s respectful of what I have to say and I respect him as a player. He’s like a sponge trying to soak everything up and that’s everything you can ask for from a younger guy. I’ve enjoyed working with him and hopefully he gets some more time here in the next couple games to get ready for next year.”
The Huskies will see a familiar face in longtime defensive assistant Hank Hughes on Saturday, returning to Rentschler Field, where he spent thirteen seasons as a member of the UConn staff, beginning under Randy Edsall.
Junior defensive co-captain and LB Marquise Vann, who was recruited by Hughes, knows the defense is going to have to perform well, to keep the Huskies competitive tonight.
“Just looking at them on film, very explosive and very talented,” Vann said. “They can beat you deep. We need to stay focused and that will give us the best opportunity to win.”
Although UConn has been eliminated from a bowl, Vann wants to finish the season strong for his seniors.
“I’m really focused on sending the seniors out, the guys I’ve been here with for so long, that I’ve always had a great fellowship with, sending them out the best way,” Vann said. “Getting them wins, get them to have fun, rather than focusing on the future. I can’t really look into the future, I can only do what I can do right now and that’s my best outlook over the final three games.”
Freshman RB Ron Johnson, echoed those sentiments.
“Our entire mentality is we want to win out,” Johnson said. “We want to go 5-7 and we just keep working towards it, until we get it. We are trying to win out for the seniors. We look up to them, they’re our role models. The best thing we can do for them is to just win out the rest of this season and show them that we love them and we haven’t forgotten about them.”
For the football fans attending the hockey game at the XL Center at 3:30PM and do not have tickets yet for tonight’s game, you can bring your ticket stub to the Rentschler Field box office to purchase $5 tickets.
PREDICTION: Cincinnati 37 UConn 20by
You can hear the full interview with RB Ron Johnson on this week’s edition of the Boneyard Roadshow
The No. 3 University of Connecticut field hockey team took an early lead less than four minutes into the game and didn’t look back, defeating Albany,1-0, in the second of two National Semifinals games played at the Maryland Field Hockey and Lacrosse Stadium on Friday night. The Huskies advance to play Syracuse in the National Championship game set for Sunday, Nov. 21 at 1 p.m.
Connecticut (19-2) returns to the title game for the sixth time in program history after raising banners in 1981, 1985 and 2013. It marks the second time the team has reached the championship game under head coach Nancy Stevens.
The Huskies have now won 13 straight games and an impressive seven-straight NCAA Tournament contests dating back to the 2013 national championship run. Overall, Connecticut owns a 36-22 (.621) mark in the national tournament and has won 23 of 40 tournament games since Stevens arrived to the Storrs campus prior to the 1990 season.
UConn got off to a hot start again, taking a 1-0 lead just 3:16 into the contest after Chrissy Davidson (West Lawn, Pa.) collected a bouncing ball in the middle of the circle and cracked a shot on goal that popped up into the air and allowed Chloe Hunnable (Halstead, England) a chance to tap it in for her 10th score of the year. For Davidson, the assist marked her 25th over the past two seasons after dishing out 12 helpers in 2013.
The Husky defense was impressive in the opening half, thwarting nine Great Dane shots, including four saves from redshirt-freshman Nina Klein (Topton, Pa.). Albany threatened with 7:30 remaining in the opening stanza, putting a shot on goal and slapping the rebound towards net but Olivia Bolles (Phoenixville, Pa.) cut to the empty cage and cleared the ball off the line for a defensive save.
Hunnable nearly put the game on ice with just over seven minutes to go when she took a pass from Sophie Bowden and blasted a shot that clanged off the crossbar.
Klein was excellent in the cage, turning away five Great Dane shots en route to her 13th-straight win. The game was UConn’s eighth shutout of the year and also the fifth straight game that the team held its opponent to one goal or less.
The Huskies and Orange have met on the pitch 39 times with UConn holding a 27-11-1 all-time series edge. The two squads last met in the championship game of the 2012 Big East Tournament which the Huskies emerged with a dramatic 4-3 win courtesy of a goal from Hunnable in the game’s final minute.
Reprinted with permission from UConnHuskies.comby
Earlier tonight, the UConn men’s hockey team took on their fifth ranked team of the season, hosting No. 11 Vermont at the XL Center in front of a late arriving 5,072, coming away with a 2-1 victory.
The win improves the Huskies to 3-1-1 against ranked opponents on the season and is their second in-conference victory as a member of Hockey East. It is also their fifth win against a ranked team in the last two seasons, since head coach Mike Cavanaugh arrived in Storrs.
Spencer Naas and Johnny Austin, two friends from Minnesota, who came to UConn together, paced the Huskies with a goal each.
“I was really proud of our club tonight,” Cavanaugh said following the win. “I thought we had a good first period and we were rewarded with a 1-0 lead. The 2nd period they took it to us a little bit and they got the goal to tie the game up, but right after that, we responded really well. We had some great chances, Spencer [Naas] scored to make it 2-1 and then we had some unbelievable looks. I really liked the way we responded after they scored the goal.”
Goalie Rob Nichols excelled again at the XL Center, stopping all, but one of the 24 shots he faced. Nichols has only given up two goals in the three games the Huskies have played in downtown Hartford, including the shutout of Boston College in their debut.
The fans also showed up, something Cavanaugh talked about after the game.
“I was talking with a coach who I’ll leave nameless, but a friend of mine in the business and he said I was shocked you had 8,000 for the BC game, I was shocked you had 4,000 for RPI,” Cavanaugh said. “He was coming to UConn for awhile and he said ‘the building was never full, I can’t believe you’re getting those crowds.’ It’s clearly an advantage for us playing here. The crowd is into the game, they’re our 7th man on the ice and I’m encouraging them all to keep coming because it’s certainly given us a home ice advantage here at the XL.”
“It doesn’t surprise me,” he continued, “because I’ve watched UConn support their teams over the last 20 years. They get 5,000 for a soccer game and I don’t think anyone else in the country probably gets those numbers. It’s certainly not shocking for me and as long as we keep competing as we have throughout this first half, they’ll keep coming to support us.”
It’s a short turn around for the Huskies, who are back on the ice tomorrow afternoon against No. 3 Boston University.
“We talked about it in the locker room right after the game,” Cavanaugh said. “Normally we have a twenty-four hour rule where you either enjoy the win or you’re upset about your loss and then you move on. Tonight, it’s twenty-four minutes because we have BU coming in here tomorrow at 3:30PM.”
The Huskies didn’t fair well last time they had back-to-back’s at Penn State to open the season.
“We know we have an excellent club in here, maybe the top pick in the NHL draft in Jack Eichel and an outstanding coach in David Quinn,” Cavanaugh added. “I know that they’ll come in here and not take us lightly as we played them well, 4-4 earlier this year at BU. We’ll have our hands full, but I have a lot of confidence in those guys in that room that we’ll come out and compete hard tomorrow.”
Following the game, head on over to Rentschler Field to see the football team take on Cincinnati at 8PM. UConn is running a promotion where a ticket stub from Saturday’s hockey game will get you admission to football for just $5.by
You can hear the entire interview with Tyler on the latest episode of The Boneyard Roadshow