In the loss to the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday night, the UConn Huskies made too many mental mistakes.
Whether it be Brian Lemelle not picking up any of the five punts kicked to him, special teams not knocking down punts when they had the opportunity or Taylor Mack inexplicably taking the ball out of the end zone after a missed field goal, UConn will not be able to do that against a far more superior opponent in the Michigan Wolverines.
To me though, one of the big turning points in the game was Mack taking the ball out of the end zone on the missed field goal in the third quarter.
The Huskies had just taken the ball down and kicked a field goal to cut the Terrapins lead to 20-13. After the kickoff and subsequent personal foul on kicker Chad Christen, they got the ball at UConn's 37.
The defense did their job and held Maryland to just five yards setting up Brad Craddock for a field goal attempt from 50 yards. His attempt was short and Mack decided to take the ball out of the end zone. He got to the UConn 10 yard line where he was tackled.
"We practice if the ball if short and in the field on returning it," UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "Obviously he lost track of where he was. Only thing I can tell you is that it happens. I wish he had stayed in."
"Coach told me to go back and catch the ball. So I was thinking there was going to be no hold up," Mack said. "That's me just trying to make a play, do something for the team."
Now had he not caught it, the Huskies would have gotten the ball at the spot of the kick, their own 32 yard line. If he decided to down it in the end zone, they would have gotten it at their own 20.
"I guess if I had taken a knee it would have been at the 20," said Mack. "And the drive the offense got could have gone somewhere else."
The drive he is talking about saw the Huskies get a first down on three running plays, two Lyle McCombs runs sandwiched around a Chandler Whitmer two-yard run. That was followed by pass interference call giving the Huskies the ball at their own 38.
Unfortunately though the next play Whitmer was picked off by Dexter McDougle who returned it 49 yards for a Maryland touchdown essentially taking the wind out of UConn's sails and the crowd.
It's hard to sit here and speculate about what could have happened if he didn't take the ball out or even downed it. All I can say was that UConn was in the game until that and the game changed for the worse after the play.
Now looms the possibility of 0-3 with Michigan coming to town. But if UConn can limit the mental mistakes, the big plays, etc, I think they can give the Wolverines a run for the money.
If not, you'll be hearing the people who've had way too many adult beverages yelling at the UConn sidelines for Pasqualoni to be fired.