Running Game Key to UConn Success

In one sense, it's too bad that this was the week that the Huskies' offense finally clicked. Partly because we're 10 games into the season but also because now UConn will have to take a week off before they play their next game against nationally ranked Louisville.

But the Huskies got themselves into this predicament with some of the worst offensive football in the FBS and if they want to play in a bowl game they'll have to overcome the self-inflicted wounds and beat two pretty good football teams.

We know what the defense can do (they've been doing it for nearly two seasons now) but if the offense can finally be counted on to regularly score points then we might have ourselves a football team here. So why the sudden turnaround?

In a word: the running game got on track for the first time all year.

“We finished some blocks early in the game and really set the tempo,” coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “We were able to run the ball some early and that allowed us to use the misdirection passes.”

Officially, running back Lyle McCombs, a freshman All-American a year ago, rushed for 120 yards on 29 carries and quarterback Chandler Whitmer completed 19-of-25 passes for 213 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. This game against an inconsistent Pitt team that took third-ranked Notre Dame to triple-overtime the week before.

The Huskies were able to sustain drives by going 7 of 14 on third down, something they've struggled with most of the season. No play illustrated that like Whitmer's late-game completion on 3rd-and-7 to Shakim Phillips that sealed the victory.

I think a big part of that was the guys up front did a better job holding these guys off," Whitmer said via the Connecticut Post's Jim Fuller. "They have a good defensive front and they did a good job up front protecting me. Lyle had a great job rushing as well so that kept up balanced. That is what I have been talking about all year that we needed to do to be successful and we did a good job of that."

“That’s the type of offense we can play,” said tight end Ryan Griffin, who had six receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. “(On Friday night) we were firing on all cylinders.”

Do that twice more and the Huskies will earn a bowl bid.

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