We know it's not popular in big-time athletics but after the way UConn played against 18th-ranked ECU Thursday night, we're going to say it: Despite coming up short 31-21, the performance was a moral victory for first-year coach Bob Diaco and his team, and we mean this in the most laudatory sense possible.
“There are no moral victories,” Diaco said after the game. “We didn’t come here to play well, we came to a win a football game and we didn’t.”
And that's what Diaco has to say. He wasn't brought to Storrs to get the Huskies close against the best teams in the AAC. He was brought to Storrs to transform the Huskies into the best team in the AAC. But as we've written countless times, this is a process. And along the way, there will be times when a loss on the scoreboard can translate to something more than that in the locker room after the game.
Thursday's effort against an explosive ECU offense is one such example.
“We have a massive amount to build on,” Diaco said, unwavering in his assessment of the game. “Down the stretch we needed to make more plays, we didn’t. ... “Soon, we will be able to take these games at the end and not give it up."
UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer easily had his best game of the season, completing 18 of 30 passes for 303 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception to go along with a rushing score.
Whitmer found Deshon Foxx on an 88-yard score and tossed a 32-yarder to sophomore Noel Thomas. Redshirt freshman Thomas Lucas had two catches for 80 yards, and freshman running back Ron Johnson added 45 yards on the ground, The emergence of these young players will help to lay the foundation for the future of the program.
“They are great. It’s exciting for the future for them,” Whitmer said, via SNY.com. ” It’s tough for me that I only have five more games left. We are starting to hit stride and ave a lot of young talent, it’s good for the future of the program.”
And Diaco added: “They are going to be really good players. They had their victories tonight too. They just didn’t win all the plays and (ECU's) quarterback is spectacular ... he’s on the move and throwing it on the move and doing a great job there. The wide receivers and quarterback makes for a tough matchup for young corners.”
The Huskies fall to 1-6 on the season and are still looking for their first win against an FBS school.