UConn football's defense embarrassed during record-setting loss to Memphis

Published on Saturday, 7 October 2017 22:38
Written by Neill Ostrout


EAST HARTFORD - Using the common parlance for football insults and calling UConn’s defense a sieve would be an insult. Not to the Huskies, but to cooking utensils.

The Huskies are much worse than that. And they were certainly cooked on Friday.

Memphis set numerous offensive records as it demolished UConn 70-31 Friday night before a crowd of 19,230 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium.

It was the most points UConn had ever allowed in the program’s history, along with the most touchdowns (10). Memphis accumulated 711 yards, just missing the UConn opponent record of 732 Delaware set in 1998.

The 70 points eclipsed the record of 69 set in a shutout loss to Holy Cross in 1919, and was worse than the 66 UConn allowed to West Virginia in 2007, the most it had given up in its FBS era.

“This was an embarrassment on national TV. There’s no way in life should a team ever put 70 points on you,” UConn linebacker Vontae Diggs said. “Thinking about that makes me sick to my stomach.”

UConn coach Randy Edsall agreed.

“That was embarrassing in the second half,” Edsall said.

Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson completed 34 of his 48 for 431 yards and seven touchdowns, and posted those numbers in just three quarters of action. He was lifted for backup David Moore with the Tigers leading 56-24 at the end of the third quarter.

Wide receiver Anthony Miller snared 15 of Ferguson’s passes, gaining 224 yards and four touchdowns.

UConn (1-4 overall, 0-3 American) has lost four straight games after opening the season with a win. It has lost eight straight American Athletic Conference games dating back to last season.

Ferguson threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns in the first half alone as Memphis (4-1, 1-1) built an early lead. Miller had 157 yards on 12 catches, including three of those scores, in the same span.

UConn is playing a new defense this season, a 3-3-5 designed by new defensive coordinator Billy Crocker. Edsall explained that the players he inherited from former head coach Bob Diaco’s staff don’t exactly mesh with what the Huskies want to do now.

“We decided to come in here and install a defense that we think is going to be good for us as we put this program together,” Edsall said. “The defense we inherited was not built for this defense.

“It’s not the scheme. It’s that we’ve got to get players in to play the scheme. And so right now it’s difficult. We don’t have the personnel to play this. Right now it’s not real pretty.”

UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, who entered the game No. 4 nationally in passing efficiency and who was coming off two straight 400-yard games, completed 21-of-35 passes for 310 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

“I don’t think I played very well, so I have to look at that first, see how I can improve my play,” Shirreffs said.

UConn’s last win over an FBS opponent - its victory in this season’s opener came over FCS member Holy Cross - came almost exactly one year ago: a 20-9 win over Cincinnati Oct. 8, 2106.

The two teams entered with remarkably similar yardage numbers this season. UConn’s offense was averaging 467 yards per game and Memphis’ 459. UConn was allowing 541.8 yards per game and Memphis 513.5.

But the game didn’t remain as close as those numbers for long.

The Huskies jumped out of the gates quickly as running back Arkeel Newsome, who ran for 114 yards and two scores in the loss, took a handoff on the third play of the game and sprinted 64 yards for a touchdown.

It was UConn’s first touchdown in its opening possession of a game since a 2015 win over Houston, a span of 19 games.

Posted in New Britain Herald, General Sports, UConn on Saturday, 7 October 2017 22:38. Updated: Saturday, 7 October 2017 22:40.