Iowa State vs. UConn Football: Report Card for the Huskies' Week 3 Loss
The UConn Huskies came short once again on Friday night, losing to Iowa State 24-20 at Rentschler field. It was the Huskies' first loss at home since October 2009, when they lost to Rutgers by the same margin.
Although the script differed from last week's loss in Nashville, the theme remained the same. Ultimately it was the Huskies' inability to move the ball offensively, propensity to turn the ball over and susceptibility to the big play that cost them a victory in this one.
After watching the game from start to finish, you couldn't help but think that the Huskies played a better team game. Unfortunately for Paul Pasqualoni and the UConn Huskies, the final score failed to reflect that.
Here are the grades for the Huskies' Week 3 performance against Iowa State.
As promised, head coach Paul Pasqualoni featured the three-headed monster at quarterback again on Friday night against Iowa State. Johnny McEntee saw the majority of snaps once again for the Huskies, with Michael Nebrich taking over for the entire second quarter. Scott McCummings was featured in the Wildcat formation, sporadically spelling both McEntee and Nebrich throughout.
McEntee was 13-for-30 for 188 yards and threw only one interception. Although the stats don't indicate improvement, McEntee looked more comfortable in the pocket and was more accurate at times with his throws.
That being said, there is still a ton of room for improvement.
He was way too sporadic in the fourth quarter, and although he showed flashes, he failed to complete easy throws at critical points in the game.
Scott McCummings completed only one pass in the game, but it was good enough for 36 yards and a touchdown. McCummings also added one more touchdown on the ground, rushing for 39 yards on 10 attempts during the course of the game.
Michael Nebrich's sample size was simply too small to evaluate. He did deliver a nice pass to tight end Ryan Griffin that would have been good for a 35-yard gain had he been able to hold on.
Although an improvement over last week's performance, the quarterback play was still far too inconsistent.
Overall Grade: C-
As anticipated, the Huskies backfield was a timeshare between freshman Lyle McCombs and senior D.J. Shoemate. Shoemate started the game, but received 10 fewer carries than his younger counterpart.
McCombs rushed for 46 yards on 18 carries, good enough for an abysmal 2.6 yards per carry. He also added one reception for 17 yards, bringing his total yards to 63 on the evening.
Shoemate didn't fair much better, rushing for 28 yards on eight carries. What highlighted Shoemate's performance was a costly fumble in the third quarter that gave the Cyclones the ball on the Huskies 21-yard line. Shoemate didn't see the field for the rest of the game.
After Shoemate was benched, McCombs was in on every play for the remainder of the game. Perhaps fatigue played a factor, as he was only able to rush for six yards on four carries after Shoemate's departure.
The Huskies' most effective weapon in the run game was quarterback Scott McCummings, which is not a good sign for UConn's offense.
Overall Grade: D+
Friday night quickly became the Isiah Moore show, as the senior wideout impressed amassing 143 yards on eight receptions. After catching only two balls for 12 yards in last week's loss to Vanderbilt, Moore exploded on the Iowa State defense, posting career highs in receptions and yards.
Kashif Moore turned in a solid performance as well, catching three balls for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Given the instability and inconsistency at the quarterback position, the receiving corps played well on Friday night.
Aside from putting up solid numbers, they were also able to draw multiple pass interference calls from the officials, resulting in large chunks of yardage for the Huskies.
The only blemish came in the form of an Isiah Moore fumble, which the Cyclones converted into a touchdown.
Overall Grade: A-
After leading the Huskies with receptions and yards in both the win against Fordham and the loss to Vanderbilt, tight end Ryan Griffin was unable to repeat his performance against the Cyclones.
Although the ball didn't find Griffin often, he was unable to capitalize on the opportunities he did have—catching only one ball for 11 yards.
In the second quarter Nebrich delivered a downfield strike to Griffin, who was unable to hold on as two Iowa State defensive backs were able to converge and knock the ball loose.
Late in the fourth Griffin was the target of a McEntee pass over the middle of the field, but couldn't pull it in as it bounced off his right hand and fell to the turf.
Both plays would've been spectacular catches, but were certainly makeable given Griffin's skill set.
Overall Grade: C
The veteran Huskies offensive line turned in yet another disappointing performance in Friday's loss. Center Moe Petrus and the Huskies quarterback core muffled a number of snaps, and the rest of the offensive line did little to protect the quarterback.
Nebrich was sacked twice, and McEntee was hit several times after releasing the ball. Lyle McCombs and D.J. Shoemate struggled in the running game, getting stopped for no gain or negative yards eight times.
You could even argue that McEntee's lone interception (forced by a muffed snap and a QB hit) could be blamed on the offensive line.
The guys up front were supposed to be one of the strengths of the Huskies offense this season. So far it's been anything but.
Coming off an exceptional performance against Vanderbilt, the Huskies defensive line did not disappoint in front of the home crowd. The Huskies defense amassed 11 tackles for loss, five of which came from the defensive line. The defensive line also added one sack, and kept Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz on the run for the majority of the game.
Two-time captain and All-Big East defensive tackle Kendall Reyes had a particularly exceptional game, accumulating three tackles for loss and one sack in the contest.
The Cyclones rushed for only 101 yards total on 34 carries as the UConn defensive front was able to stymie Cyclones running backs Shontrelle Johnson and James White, who rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns in their victory over Iowa.
Considering the quality of Iowa State's offensive line (allowing only two sacks coming into the game) the Huskies performed admirably in the trenches on Friday night.
Overall Grade: A-
The relatively inexperienced Huskies linebackers had yet another exceptional game against Iowa State. Although they were not as active in the backfield as they were against Vanderbilt, Sio Moore, Yawin Smallwood and Jory Johnson still put their mark on the game.
After Steele Jantz had already been intercepted twice in the first quarter, Jory Johnson picked him off again on a beautiful defensive play in coverage by Moore. Johnson also led the Huskies in tackles with 10; he has 29 on the season.
Johnson also added one tackle for loss for good measure.
Although Moore only had three tackles in the contest, he was impressive nonetheless.
The more I watch these Huskies linebackers, the more I start to think that they are capable of becoming, yet again, the cornerstone of their defense.
Overall Grade: A-
The statistics speak volumes.
Two interceptions, 4.5 tackles for loss and two pass deflections. They were also able to hold the Big 12 Player of the Week Steele Jantz to only 200 yards passing and one touchdown.
But what hurt the Huskies secondary in Nashville hurt them yet again in East Hartford—big plays.
Huskies cornerback Blidi Breh-Wilson got beat on a jump ball by Cyclones wide receiver Darius Reynolds on a 3rd-and-19, simply inexcusable in that situation.
Jerome Junior and Breh-Wilson both failed to tackle Reynolds in the red zone, resulting in what ended up being the game-winning touchdown.
Safety Harris Agbor (pictured) had a strong game, contributing a sack and five tackles. Byron Jones made a spectacular interception when he made a diving out-of-bounds catch on 3rd down.
Overall Grade: A-
Remember how I said missed opportunities killed the Huskies? Well most of those misses came off the foot of kicker David Teggart. Teggart, who is one of the better kickers in the nation, missed two field goals from within 45 yards.
This is especially heartbreaking knowing that the Huskies lost by only four points. One of those misses came on a drive where the Huskies started on the Cyclones 28-yard line.
Nick Williams did another solid job in the return game, and although he fumbled once he was able to jump on the ball before any Cyclones could get close to him.
The Huskies were able to suppress Josh Lentz and Iowa State's explosive return game, mostly by opting not to kick to the standout return man. This did cost them early however, as kickoff specialist Chad Christen booted his first kickoff out of bounds.
Overall Grade: C
Very few times after watching a college football game do you walk away thinking "Wow, that coaching staff did a helluva job."
That was the feeling you got watching Coach Pasqualoni and his staff last Friday. In my mind, it is the coach's job to put his players in the best positions to succeed. The execution of those situations is completely up to the players, and it was that execution that was lacking against Iowa State.
Whether it was overthrowing a wide open receiver or failing to make the tackle, the Huskies just weren't able to make the plays that were needed of them. The Cyclones offense got the majority of their yardage, and one touchdown, on a trick play and bad coverage on a jump ball. There is nothing defensive coordinator Don Brown can do about that.
Coach Pasqualoni used all three of his quarterbacks effectively, but at times they were not able to make the throws or reads that's required of them.
I'm going to give the coaching staff the highest grade you can in a losing effort, because after it's all said and done it always comes down to wins and losses.
Overall Grade: A