UConn Rolls Vanderbilt: Has Cody Endres Put the Huskies Back in the Title Hunt?

Dan KelleyCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2010

EAST HARTFORD, CT - SEPTEMBER 12:  Cody Endres #12 of the Connecticut Huskies passes under pressure from Robert Quinn #42 of the North Carolinia Tar Heels pressures on September 12, 2009 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Tar Heels defeated the Huskies 12-10.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Coming into the season, the UConn Huskies were the trendy pick to take home the Big East championship and reach a BCS Bowl for the first time in their short history.

Those expectations have been tempered significantly now, after a disastrous start to the season. Their opening performance at Michigan was flat-out embarrassing. Then, a week after scorching an FCS-brand cupcake, they hit the road and once again embarrassed themselves in a loss to Temple—a team that was once kicked out of the Big East.

At home against Buffalo last week, the Huskies' horrendous start seemed to be getting even worse. In the second quarter, they blew a two-touchdown lead and went into the half tied at 14 with the lowly Bulls.

Enter Cody Endres.

With quarterback Zach Frazer’s struggles continuing, Randy Edsall wisely benched the former Notre Dame transfer in favor of Endres. From there, the offense took off (despite the absence of Jordan Todman) and the Huskies rolled to a 45-21 victory—their second of the year.

In about a half of football, Endres went 7-for-11, for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

Endres’ performance was a reason for Husky fans to reclaim a bit of their optimism, but of course, they were only playing Buffalo.

Today though, the Huskies received a slightly better test from Vanderbilt. The Huskies won again though, in relatively convincing fashion, 40-21.

Cody Endres didn’t have to do much today, with Jordan Todman back in the lineup. The Huskies are a running team and they will continue to be as long as Todman is around. But even so, it’s hard to win many games with a completely one-dimensional offense and Endres looks like a nice complement the his team’s formidable running game. Against Vandy, he went 21-for-30 for 179 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

Aside from the one turnover, he performed his duty—to play steady and manage the game—admirably. Although it was Todman’s 190-yard, two-touchdown performance that provided the offense with a dynamic punch, the importance of Endres’ steadiness can’t be overlooked.

The 40-point outburst was impressive, because while Vanderbilt is generally a team that gets kicked around in the SEC every year, they came into the week with a respectable-looking defense. After their first three games, against Northwestern, LSU, and Mississippi, Vanderbilt was ranked 54th in the country in points allowed with 21.3 per game.

Now, 54th is only average, but considering Vandy started off against two SEC teams and Northwestern in the early weeks while the national powers have been warming up with cupcakes, it definitely doesn’t look too bad.

The Huskies still have issues on the defensive side of the ball, but for now at least it’s fair to say that UConn fans should be excited about their offense’s new direction. In a down Big East, it’s fair to say that their conference title hopes have been re-kindled.