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UC-UConn Rock 'N Roll Party

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Obviously, Zach Collaros has become a star.

 

He completes 29 of 37 passes for 480 yards (second-best in school history and fourth-best in Big East history) and one touchdown. He rushes for 75 yards on 13 carries, bringing his total offensive yardage to 555 - a school record and a new Big East mark. He leads his team to 711 yards - also the highest mark in UC history and the second-best ever in the conference.

 

Basically, you won't find a better performance by a quarterback, and including tonight's stats, he's 70 of 89 for 1,100 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception since he took over for Tony Pike in the South Florida game. Hat tip to C. Trent Rosecrans for figuring out that his quarterback ranking is 209.9.

 

That's not bad for a backup quarterback. Only now, he might not be the backup, even when Pike is healthy and ready to play. All along, Brian Kelly has said that Tony Pike would be the starter when he's healthy enough to return. Now, that's not necessarily the case.

 

"OK, I've changed my mind," he said. "Based upon the way (Collaros) has played the last three games, I think I have to reconsider my decision We'll see how (Pike) practices and then make a decision late in the week."

 

Initially, Kelly said he wanted to get Pike some playing time tonight if the right circumstance presented itself. It obviously never did. So, now what? Can Pike fight back and reclaim his spot? Or does he go the way of Dustin Grutza, who lost his job to Pike last season after an injury and never gained it back? Pike, just a few weeks ago, was a Heisman Trophy candidate. Thing is, Collaros is quickly becoming the star that supplants him.

 

Typically, Collaros deflected some of the praise in the postgame presser.

 

"We have a very good offensive scheme," he said. "Mardy is catching everything - Armon (Binns) and D.J. Woods, too. Great receivers and great playmakers around, they have to expect the run with Jake and Isaiah. You have to take something away. Otherwise, it's pitch and catch out there with one-on-one matchups."

 

--I was a little surprised on the postgame sideline to see how disappointed the Bearcats were. Once Charley Howard sealed the game by corralling the last-second onside kick and the offense went into its victory formation, J.K. Schaffer, who was sitting on the sideline with his eyes glued to the ground, exhaled and slowly got to his feet.

 

The team did not run to the student section, like normal, to pay its respects. Instead, the Bearcats slowly, wearily walked over. On the way to the locker room, Andre Revels looked perturbed and shook his head in exasperation.

 

One exception: Kelly found offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn, and with big smiles on their faces, the two embraced happily in the middle of the field.

 

"There were a lot of guys in there that I had to tell, 'Hey, you just won a football game,'" Kelly said. "They had that look about them. You have to enjoy a win like that. It's hard to win. Sometimes you have to tell your kids, 'Enjoy it.' We have things to work on, but great win."

 

--So, yeah, about that defense. Tough performance by the Bearcats there, allowing 462 yards of total offense and 45 points to the Huskies.

 

"In the first half, we really didn't play too bad," said Schaffer, who finished with eight tackles, two behind the team lead that Dominique Battle and Revels shared. "We had a small mistake here and there. When all 11 guys aren't on the same page, that will hurt you. In the second half, it wasn't as much the big plays, but more that they were pounding the ball. They had an extremely powerful offense. It was a real tough, hard-hitting game. Kudos to our offense for keeping the points on the board and helping us out a little bit."

 

Overall, though, the performance might help the defense. Maybe not tonight and maybe not this week when, I imagine, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs rip into the Bearcats. But in the future, UC's defense could benefit from tonight's performance.

 

"It's always exciting when you don't play your best and still get a win," Schaffer said. "It just shows you how much better you can get. Right now, it's not the best thing in the world to give up as many yards and points as we did. In the long run, it will help us, because it will show us the weaknesses we have."

 

--Listened to UConn coach Randy Edsall speak for a bit before the Bearcats made their way to the postgame presser. A sampling of what he said:

 

"If they're No. 4 in the country or No. 5 or No. 7, we're not far off."

 

"I told (the Huskies) before the game, play loose. Let it fly. Don't worry about making a mistake. I think some guys might have been a little tight. In the second half, we did a much better job."

 

--The play of the game - the play that ended up really good but could have been disastrous - was the fourth and 1 call from the UConn 13-yard line with about 2 minutes to play when Pead stutter-stepped his way for the touchdown.

 

"I just felt like the way Connecticut was playing, I didn't want to give them any more chances," Kelly said. "They had used their timeouts obviously and the interesting part of that was if we just fall down (after gaining the first down but before scoring the touchdown) the game is over. We get the first down and we don't score a touchdown, the game is over, because then we can just kneel it out. It's hard on fourth down to tell your guy to just fall down and not score a touchdown. I felt like, 'Let's end the game right here.'"

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