It’s not exactly a moral victory when your team is already short on depth and your starting quarterback goes down. However, UConn’s performance was much better than expected in an 11-point loss that was expected to be a 27-point loss. UConn still have not beaten an FBS opponent since they beat UMass back in 2019.
Utah State ultimately was able to open their season with a win by a score of 31-20 on their home turf. Quarterback Logan Bonner, the MVP of last season’s Mountain West Championship Game, finished with 20 completions on 29 attempts for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Utah State’s Calvin Tyler Jr. also ran for 161 yards on 33 carries.
The Huskies started Ta’Quan Roberson at quarterback, who got the first score of the game with a one yard rushing touchdown. UConn would force a fumble on the next Utah State possession with veteran linebacker Jackson Mitchell forcing and recovering it.
After an injury to Roberson in the first quarter, UConn replaced him with true freshman Zion Turner. Turner would throw a pick on his first series, but bounce back on his second series with a touchdown pass to Keelan Marion from 13 yards out. This put the Huskies up 14-0. The first half offensive highlights basically stopped there for the Huskies.
Utah State would score 24 straight points in the second quarterback that included two TD passes for Bonner and a 23-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Robert Briggs. The Aggies would also get a 45-yard field goal from Connor Coles in that stretch. Blake Anderson’s team went into the half leading 24-14.
In the second half, the Huskies seemed to get their spark back behind Turner, Mitchell, and a career day from sophomore running back Nathan Carter. Carter finished the day with 190 yards on 20 carries.
Sophomore Noe Ruelas hit his first college field goal attempt from 46 yards to make it 24-17 at the start of the fourth quarter. He followed that up with a 54-yard field goal on the Huskies’ next possession.
The Aggies quickly responded to only being up four points with a 75-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard strike by Bonner to Brian Cobbs.
The Huskies were marching with just under five minutes left, but USU freshman defensive back Ike Larsen would make an athletic interception to put the Aggies in a position to run the clock out.
Frankly, the first half of this game had all the overreactions that made us miss college football so much. Is UConn actually good? Is Utah State actually bad? Is the defensive-coordinator-by-committee approach a good tactic? After watching the whole game, there are some more realistic insights to walk away with.
For starters, for their sake, hopefully this first-half Utah State performance was just a matter of season opener nerves. Something tells me they won’t have the same fortune of scoring 24 straight points against Alabama next week. It’s not going to be a cake walk jumping back into Mountain West play either.
Second, whether this UConn team really is another 1-11 team or not, they showed some heart. The Huskies came into this game with seven offensive linemen on their depth chart, and that group played particularly well. They allowed no sacks and paved the way for _ 245 rushing yards, the team’s most since that win against UMass back in 2019. They just have to hope that the injury to guys like Roberson and receiver Malik Dixon are not too serious if the Huskies want to bounce back stronger next week.
UConn continue their season on September 3rd at home against Central Connecticut State. Utah State will travel to Tuscaloosa next Saturday to take on the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.