By Desmond Conner, The Hartford Courant
Can it get any worse than this?
Yes, he was booed, but he got the last laugh so, let’s get on with it.
This game came down to the Huskies’ blowing way too many scoring opportunities in the first half that came back to bite them in the second, when the Terrapins, now 3-0 for the first time since 2001, got off the schneid and really began flexing their offensive muscle to the tune of 501 total yards, topping that plateau for the third consecutive game.
The UConn defense recovered a fumble, had an interception and stopped Maryland twice on fourth down, but the Huskies came away with only 10 first-half points while the Terps were trying to find their way.
Maryland had a 13-10 lead at the break. In the second half, missed opportunities continued for UConn. Late in the third quarter, during a drive that could have tied the score at 20 if UConn had scored, Chandler Whitmer was intercepted. And that interception was run back for a Maryland TD that extended the lead to 27-13.
Whitmer (29 of 46, 349 yards, one TD, two interceptions) compounded his tough day by getting hit with an intentional grounding call in the end zone for a safety. There were special teams gaffes, including too many short punts by Cole Wagner and a blocking below the waist penalty by kicker Chad Christen. And on a Terps’ 50-yard field goal attempt that came up short, Taylor Mack tried to return it and was stopped deep in his own territory.
He could have downed in the end zone and the ball comes out to the 20 or if he doesn’t touch it at all, the Huskies take over possession at the line of the scrimmage, which would have been the Huskies 33. Instead, they started at their own 10.
Basically, the Huskies had a difficult time getting out of their own way after a dismal opening game performance against Division I-AA Towson on Aug. 29.
Oh, have we mentioned the Maryland offense, yet, particularly quarterback C.J. Brown, who accounted for 399 (277 passing, 122 rushing) of the Terps’ 501?
Dude wasn’t sacked either, while his counterpart was planted in the turf five times for the second straight game.
“We didn’t make enough plays on C.J. Brown,” UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “He had a really big night running the ball. We had a hard time tackling him. I don’t think we had a minus-yardage play on him. We didn’t have a sack on him. We knew coming in he was going to be a good player. He made more plays than we made on him.
“On the other side of the ball, we just weren’t able to run the ball. We tried. We’re not creating enough space in there for the back to find a crease. So it’s frustrating.”
If the Huskies are frustrated now, wait till Michigan, probably frustrated, too, after narrowly escaping with a 28-24 win over Akron earlier in the day. The Wolverines get here Saturday for an 8 p.m. game (ABC) at the Rent.
To read the rest of Desmond Conner’s story, click here to go to courant.com.