The stage was set for this team to fail the rest of the 2005 season. After going down in Pittsburgh just a week ago, many chalked up the Bearcats as the doormat of the Big East. Oh how things can change in just a week. And if you think this was a fluke, stay tuned because this is Big East football.
Year in and year out Big East teams battle each other to the wire, in the past couple of season there have been multi-conference champions and it may happen again. The Bearcats came into the game with rumors of quarterback Dustin Grutza not playing. As you can tell from looking at the stat sheet Grutza took every offensive snap and lasted the entire game.
But while Grutaz's performance wasn't one to write home about (9-21-125-1), it did allow the running game to make a return appearance as three Bearcats rushed for over a 5.5 yards per carry.
Leading the way sophomore Bradley Glatthaar who used the speed many claim he doesn't have to race 72 yards for a score. Overall the former Elder Panther rushed for 123 net yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns. But while Glatthaar's performance was exciting, two more Bearcats had big nights. Sophomore Butler Benton rushed for one touchdown and 64 nets yard on eleven carriers. Greg Moore also would pickup 64 net yards during the game.
But while the running game was able to break some big plays, it wouldn't have been a viable option if not for the blocking up front by the Bearcats offensive line. This may be their best game of the season and with it fans now have hope of this team doing more in the given weeks as they progress deeper into Big East play.
But while some say Grutza didn't get the total job done, I'll have to disagree as several receivers dropped some great passes. Earnest Jackson led the Bearcats with 3 catches for 38 yards and again Brent Celek wasn't a major part of the offense. But Connor Barwin did a great job and picked up another touchdown.
On special teams Chet Ervin had his best performance on the years by punting 7 times for a total of 297 yards and a 42.4 yard average and while the yardage was great, it was the hang time he recorded that was even better.
On the defense side of the ball the Bearcats had a plan and UConn didn't know how to stop them from putting pressure on the quarterback. With many of the youth players on the defensive side of the football it's may come to a surprise to some when they find out the Bearcats recorded 6 sacks on the day, Senior Adam Roberts and freshmen Trevor Anderson both got to D.J. Hernandez 2 times each and forced him to look elsewhere and in the process take a pounding.
As for tackles, freshman Corey Smith recorded 9 total tackles with 5 solo's and 4 assist before heading out of the game with a shoulder injury and Kevin McCullough again showed why he's going to earn a scholarship by the end of this season with his 7 total tackles. Other big performers were Anthony Williams, Thomas Claggett, Adam Roberts, JaJuan Hall, Haruki Nakamura, Trevor Anderson, Dominic Ross and Antoine Horton who all had at least 4 tackles.
But while those guys had the big tackles for the night, it was the play of Tony Carvitti and Mike Mickens that caught my eye. Carvitti coming in on third down passing situations recorded two quarterback hurries and Mickens pulled in an Interception while also giving great coverage.
While the Huskies might have won the battle of total numbers, the scoreboard showed Bearcat fans were going home on Homecoming with a 28-17 victory.
After the game Connecticut Head Coach Randy Edsall had the following to say.
"I thought he (quarterback, D.J. Hernandez) was under a lot of pressure. Most of the time, he was running around. I don't think we did a good job of protecting him, but I think he really did some good things. He's got to get better, but I wasn't displeased with how he competed." "We didn't play well enough today to win, in all three phases, and that's the bottom line."
Bearcat Insider will have some photos and also some audio interviews done after the game coming up.