Owls’ report card doesn’t make the grade

TTN provides a report card on the Owls’ performance against UConn on Saturday.

Considering the conditions, redshirt senior Adam DiMichele played a pretty decent game. The first of his two interceptions was not his fault, as the ball deflected off the hands of redshirt senior wide receiver Travis Shelton.

DiMichele also didn’t benefit from all the drops the pass catchers had, specifically Shelton’s drop on a bomb that could have easily resulted in a touchdown toward the end of the third quarter.

Overall, he came to play and showed off his athleticism by escaping a number of sacks.

Grade: B+

Redshirt freshman Joe Jones and sophomore Marquise Liverpool combined to rush for 73 yards on 22 carries. Both are more athletic, east-west type runners and didn’t benefit from playing in the wet conditions.

However, this was a game where a team needed to rely heavily on its ground attack. And the Owls showed a weakness here.

Grade: D

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
When the weather allowed the Owls to pass, this group was as good as it was against Army.
But the drops killed, as did their inability to get open. Senior wide receiver Bruce Francis finished with just one reception for 20 yards, a number that should be better no matter how difficult it is to throw.

Grade: C-

Offensive Line
The Owls’ front five, headlined by redshirt senior center Alex Derenthal, protected DiMichele adequately, giving up just two sacks.

But sophomore left guard Derek Dennis was flagged a few times for holding, and the holes just weren’t consistently there for Jones and Liverpool to run through.

Grade: C

Brian Sanford and the Owls defensive line struggled all day against the Huskies' attack (Kevin Cook/TTN).

Defensive Line
This was the story of the game.

Connecticut redshirt junior tailback Donald Brown ran all over the Owls’ front four, totaling 220 yards on 36 carries. Senior quarterback Tyler Lorenzen added 77 of his own to compound the domination. The group also added no sacks and just two tackles for losses.

In short, it was really bad.

Grade: F

Junior John Haley had 15 tackles and an interception, junior Alex Joseph had 12 tackles and a forced fumble and sophomore Amara Kamara notched 11 tackles and the Owls’ lone sack.

Sure, the improved numbers were a direct result of the defensive line’s poor play. But results are results, and the linebackers did a decent job limiting UConn’s short passing game and keeping Brown from gaining double-digit yards on every play.

Grade: B-

The unit lost senior Evan Cooper, Jr. to an injury early on but still managed to limit Lorenzen to just 86 yards passing.

The weather helped them out, as it put less pressure on pass coverage and more pressure on helping out the front seven. Sophomore free safety Jaiquawn Jarrett led the way with 12 tackles, and redshirt junior strong safety Dominique Harris chipped in with five tackles and a key fumble recovery.

Things were pretty solid here. They can’t be blamed for the 302 rushing yards the Huskies had.

Grade: B

Special Teams
Redshirt junior kicker Jake Brownell hit all three of his field goals, and sophomore Jeff Wathne hit two of his seven punts inside the 20.

But the return game featured nothing special, and they gave up a 31-yard punt return to sophomore defensive back Jasper Howard.

So there was some good and some bad.

Grade: B-

It pretty much comes down to whether or not you think the Owls should have gone for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 34 at the end of the fourth quarter.

It was a risk. It didn’t work. But coach Al Golden doesn’t regret it.

Otherwise, the Owls came out in their usual shotgun, multiple wide receiver formations, but had to go to more running formations when the weather took a nasty turn.

That went against their strengths, but at least offensive coordinator Matt Rhule understood what had to be done.

Still, some kind of an adjustment should have been made about Brown.

Grade: C

Todd Orodenker can be reached at todd.orodenker@temple.edu.

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