It’s been a rough 2021 season thus far for the UConn Huskies Football team. Through just 4 games, the year has been punctuated by shutouts, inept offense, big plays allowed on defense, and coaching turnover. However, the 2nd half of Saturday’s game at Michie Stadium against Army, finally showed a few glimmers of hope that all is not lost (yet).
Coming on the heels of adding Offensive Analyst Noel Mazzone to the coaching staff, the Huskies made a surprising move this week starting their freshman QB Tyler Phommachanh. Phommachanh appeared on the depth chart this week for the first time this season as the backup QB with Jack Zergiotis and Micah Leon, but most were still expecting Steven Krajewski to take the reins. While the game started a bit shaky for the freshman, getting no help from his receivers, the 2nd half showed the potential of the Stratford, CT native.
While the Huskies would have lost this game regardless, a few awful drops in the first half would have led to big plays and maybe even TDs. If those catches are made, UConn would have put points on the board early and had some more confidence and momentum. That being said, the defense looked completely lost against the triple-option of Army and it felt like they could do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted, which is not ideal.
Overall, Phommachanh looked better than his stats would make you believe. He finished 11 of 26 for 109 yards and 1 interception, but made several nice throws that decent receivers would have caught. He also made his collegiate debut on the road at Army in front of 25,000+ fans, which is not an easy venue for a young kid. He did run 11 times for 73 yards and 2 TDs, which is a huge asset for this team going forward.
I love the decision to go with the freshman at QB. It’s clear this season is going absolutely nowhere, so why not see what you have in these really young kids. We already saw more spark from Phommachanh than Zergiotis and Krajewski combined thus far, so it’s worth riding the wave and seeing if he can develop into a decent FBS QB. If he can continue to grow and learn, then in a year or two this offense might actually be putting up points with regularity. With the personnel of the Huskies, a QB who can take off and run when there is a hole will prove to be critical over the next few years.
While you never want to lose 52-21, outscoring Army in the 2nd half 21-10 is a significant step for the Huskies. Between the 97-yard kick return from freshman Brian Brewton or the perfect 50-yard pass to freshman WR Aaron Turner, it looked like real football from UConn. I’m hoping that in 3 years we are all looking back on this game as the beginning of this group jelling, sticking around, and continuing to improve year-over-year to bring UConn up to a respectable level. And hey, UConn beat the spread for the first time this season.