It was a huge win at a pivotal time. UConn now enters into its second bye week in a month with some confidence and momentum, both of which were sorely lacking after the debacle against the Cardinals.
Specifically, the Huskies showed more toughness, especially on defense. They forced seven fumbles, including the pivotal one that kept West Virginia scoreless in overtime, and attacked the Mountaineers all night.
"Definitely a gut check," running back Jordan Todman said of the meeting with West Virginia. "You keep getting knocked down and knocked out, and people might give up or quit. We wanted to turn it around and do whatever it takes to win. And you lose two games and get shut out against Louisville, it definitely is a gut check."
At 4-4, with a 1-2 record in the Big East, there is still a long way to go for the Huskies to reach the goals they set in the preseason. With two conference losses already, UConn would need to win out and get help from around the league to capture the Big East title.
The WVU win may have been a turning point for Connecticut this season, and it gives the team a chance at a bowl bid. If the team hopes to play for anything else, the momentum will have to carry over to the next game against Pittsburgh, the lone unbeaten team in the Big East.
--Linebacker Sio Moore had a monster game against the Mountaineers, finishing the game with 17 tackles, three tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. So what did his coach think of that?
"Let's not give Sio too much credit," coach Randy Edsall said. "He may have had a lot of tackles, but he still has a lot of work to do. ... He made a lot of mistakes out there along with the plays he made. I appreciate his effort, but he needs to get a lot better with his technique."
Moore seemed to take no offense.
"It just makes me work harder. That's all that is," he replied when told of Edsall's comments. "I know I'm not perfect, and there's a lot of plays I left on the field. I don't take it as any offense. I just take it as there's more I can do out there and he knows it. It makes me work harder."
--Connecticut went into the West Virginia game looking to slow the game down, keeping the WVU offense and its own defense off the field. But after Zach Frazer led the Huskies to a field goal via the two-minute drill at the end of the half, the Huskies chose to speed things up the rest of the way.
"When we came into the locker room, I told the guys I wanted to keep up that tempo. We came into the game trying to slow the tempo down a little bit. We saw some things, and I thought our assistant coaches did a great job of making adjustments," coach Randy Edsall said.
GAME BALL GOES TO: LB Sio Moore -- Coach Randy Edsall wants to temper expectations for Moore because he thinks that the quality of his play has an inverse relationship to the amount of press he gets. But it's hard to ignore the 17 tackles, three tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles.
KEEP AN EYE ON: QB Zach Frazer -- Frazer has seen it all at Connecticut ... and that's just talking about the 2010 season. This is the Notre Dame transfer's last chance to seize the starting job, and with his performance against West Virginia, he likely has at least earned the right to compete with Mike Box for the job over the next couple of weeks of practice.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Don't fumble the snap and hope that (Dave) Teggart makes it at the end." -- Quarterback Zach Frazer, to the Connecticut Post, on his mind-set in overtime.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: The offense took what the West Virginia defense gave it and moved the ball down the field in short chunks. Jordan Todman got a career-high-tying 33 carries that he turned into 113 yards, while Zach Frazer completed 18 of his 29 passes for 166 yards. Not stats that look impressive in the box score, but enough to win the game.
The defense forced seven fumbles and recovered four. It was much more aggressive than usual at trying to strip the ball, and the hard work paid off.
STILL NEEDS WORK: It was far from a pretty-looking victory, and the Huskies had to work hard for their points. Their first two scores were on a 12-play, 63-yard drive that led to a field goal, and a 14-play, 71-yard drive for a touchdown.
Take out a 40-yard pass play to Kashif Moore, and the Huskies averaged just 7.4 yards per pass. Give Zach Frazer credit for being efficient and not turning the ball over, but that's not going to keep opposing defenses from stacking the line of scrimmage to stop Jordan Todman and the running game.
--QB Michael Box missed the West Virginia game because of the concussion he suffered against Louisville. That thrust Zach Frazer back in the starting lineup. Frazer began the season as the starter before being demoted to third string a month ago.
--Kendall Reyes moved from defensive end to defensive tackle for most of the West Virginia game. Trevardo Wiliams got the bulk of the playing time in Reyes' old position on the end.
--RB Robbie Frey was back in the lineup, but had just one carry and didn't gain a yard. The extra week of rest should help him be more ready to contribute against Pittsburgh.