First-year coach Bob Diaco has always preached patience. He has a young team, unaccustomed to winning, and rebuilding the program would take time. How long was always the question, but we've seen glimpses of what may be in store. A week after hanging tough with 18th-ranked ECU, UConn not only kept pace with UCF, a rare offensive explosion resulted in a 37-29 win, only the second of the season, and the first AAC win under Diaco.
The Huskies got off to their customary slow start with five straight three-and-outs in a scoreless first quarter. Then Deshon Foxx broke the scoring drought with a 68-yard run out of a wildcat look. UConn had scored 24 additional points by the end of the third quarter, and another six in the fourth to seal the win and break a five-game losing streak.
"It feels great," Diaco said of the win. "I’m happy for the guys, the young men on our team. There has been so much adversity, misery and pain and they have persevered and grinded through. They have listened to the message and had faith when you couldn’t really see it. Now to get a win to reinforce and to give them 24-hours of joy and to eat a dinner that tastes good on a Saturday night and be with their family is awesome and heartwarming for the staff."
Foxx, who usually plays wide receiver, carried the ball 11 times for 102 yards. Why did we see so much of him in the backfield Saturday?
“Mike Cummings, our offensive coordinator representing the offensive coaching staff, has done a fantastic job through an incredible amount of adversity," Diaco said. "He’s tried to tweak this and that and come up with plans to protect players and add to our assets. It’s like a chess game that’s evolving constantly and now our players, the offensive line in particular, are starting to grow together and gel. Those guys have done a great job plotting out the moments in the game where we can use a 1-2 punch that gives us an opportunity to use some different changeups. They have done an outstanding job."
While Foxx was running the ball, freshman Noel Thomas had four receptions for 83 yards, including two touchdowns.
“Noel Thomas is a talented player," Diaco said. "Since the day I met and had the chance to identify, I sat him down and told him ‘you’re a talented player.’ There is no doubt about that. He can run, he’s big, he’s got soft hands, body control and runs crisp routes. He just needs to mature in the game and now that he’s doing that, he is working on how to become a professional and how to be a student-athlete at the highest level. So as he continues to grow that, he’s going to make plays. As all that rounds out, he will add to his skill set and the sky is the limit for Noel."