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Early Turnover, Lack of Offense Dooms UConn in 17-14 Loss To USF

South Florida running back Marlon Mack finds a hole in the UConn defense.

South Florida running back Marlon Mack finds a hole in the UConn defense on September 19, 2014 at Raymond James Stadium.

Guess what happened again? Yes that is right, an early turnover. And yes, it was converted into seven points.

For the fourth straight game, the UConn Huskies opponent, this time the South Florida Bulls, converted an early turnover into seven points. And unlike the Stony Brook game, UConn couldn’t recover as they fell to USF 17-14 in front of 28,723 rain-soaked fans at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL on Friday night.

The Huskies fall to 1-3 (0-1 American) while South Florida evens up their record at 2-2 (1-0).

The conditions were absolutely brutal with torrential downpours at time. You could say the same thing about UConn’s offensive line as they were brutal with huge gaps allowing USF’s defense to look like the Steel Curtain.

Chandler Whitmer had no chance when he fumbled the ball after being hit by Chris Dunkley, who recovered the fumble at UConn’s 19. Dunkley came in untouched as Gus Cruz didn’t even see him and he walloped Whitmer.

Two minutes later, USF true freshman running back Marlon Mack put the ball into the end zone with a one yard one.

Pre-snap penalties killed UConn’s next drive, you know those things that cause losing.

South Florida then drove the ball down to UConn’s 30 yard line. But the defense toughened up, stopping Mack on first and second down, then they watched, Mike White throw an incomplete pass.

With the rain beating down and a sloppy turf, USF coach Willie Taggert decided to go for it on 4th and 10 instead of having Marvin Kloss try the 47 yard field goal. It turned out to be the right call as Rodney Adams burned Obi Melifonwu for a 30 yard touchdown reception.

“Just, again, no way to start a game.” UConn coach Bob Diaco said. “Hostile territory, on the road, inclement weather, all the challenges, all the adversity.”

“The youth and inexperience and beginnings of our program continue to show themselves, as victimizing moments, in terms of winning and losing. You start the game and a few short minutes it’s fourteen to nothing.”

With the rain and the lackluster performance of the offensive line, Diaco played it conservative. The defense played strongly and kept the Bulls off the scoreboard.

With halftime approaching and USF driving, the Huskies caught a break when a White pass bounced off of Rodney Adams and Byron Jones scooped it out of the air and brought it back 70 yards for a touchdown.

The teams traded punts for the third quarter and then UConn defense came up strong in the 4th when they stopped a goal to go situation and forced a Kloss field goal.

It would turn out to be the difference in the game as the Huskies got the ball back late and went down the field in four plays culminating in a Geremy Davis touchdown reception.

But with no timeouts, it was a little too late as the Bulls recovered the onside kick.

“It was a night of gain a little bit and do something to shoot ourselves in the foot and take a step back.” said Diaco.

Scoring:

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
UConn Huskies
0 7 0 7 14
South Florida Bulls
14 0 0 3 21

1st quarter

USF – 11:22 – Marlon Mack 1 Yd Run (Marvin Kloss Kick)

USF – 3:24 – Rodney Adams 30 Yd pass from Mike White (Marvin Kloss Kick)

2nd quarter

CON – 0:05 – Byron Jones 70 Yd Interception Return (Bobby Puyol Kick)

3rd quarter

NONE

4th quarter

USF – 6:03 – Marvin Kloss 19 Yd Field Goal

CON – 1:19 – Geremy Davis 32 Yd pass from Chandler Whitmer (Bobby Puyol Kick)

Offensive Player of the Game:

USF running back Marlon Mack was the first opposing rusher to get over 100 yards against UConn as he finished with 103 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive Players of the Game:

While they lost, UConn LB Marquise Vann stood out with 14 tackles (nine solo, five assisted) and Byron Jones who had a 70 yard interception return for a touchdown.

Turning Point(s) of the Game:

Chris Dunkley‘s sack-fumbled on Chandler Whitmer on UConn’s first drive set the tone for the game.

Offensive Notes:

Chandler Whitmer was 6-of-10 for 88 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked twice. Max DeLorenzo led the team with 36 yards rushing on 10 carries. Arkeel Newsome had four carries for 30 yards. Deshon Foxx had two catches for 30 yards with Noel Thomas adding two catches for 18 yards. Geremy Davis had a catch for 32 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive Notes:

Marquise Vann had 14 tackles to lead UConn. Graham Stewart added nine tackles while Andrew Adams and B.J. McBryde had six each. Byron Jones had one tackle and an 70-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Special Teams Notes:

Justin Wain averaged 44.5 yards on eight punts. One of those eight went for a touchback. Bobby Puyol converted both of his extra points.  Arkeel Newsome had four kickoff returns for 86 yards with a long of 24.

Game Notes:

UConn Huskies @ South Florida Bulls 9/19/14 box score

Here are the postgame quotes from UConn head coach Bob Diaco and South Florida head coach Willie Taggert.

Injuries:

UConn LB Junior Joseph suffered an upper body injury.

ESPN reported UConn QB Tim Boyle was not available for the game. Diaco refuted the report saying Boyle had been cleared but is dealing with a lower leg thing.

AAC Games and Results:

Saturday, September 20

Tulane
Duke, 12:30 p.m.

Delaware State
Temple, 1 p.m.

(6) Texas A&M
SMU, 3:30 p.m.

North Carolina
East Carolina, 3:30 p.m.

Bethune Cookman
Central Florida, 6 p.m.

Miami (OH)
Cincinnati, 7 p.m.

Middle Tennessee
Memphis, 7 p.m.

UNLV
Houston, 8 p.m.

Things to Work On:

  • Continue to work with the offensive line as they were ineffective at just about everything
  • Continue to eliminate the things that cause losing

Up Next:

UConn returns home to Rentschler Field next Saturday as they’ll host the Temple Owls in an American Athletic Conference game. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

photo credit: brad horrigan – hartford courant

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