EAST HARTFORD, CT - Charley Molnar and his UMass Minutemen were unable to break onto the scoreboard and fell short in the first FBS game in school history on Thursday night, losing to the UConn Huskies, 37-0, in the season opener inside a packed Rentschler Field.
"There was a number of issues. It's really hard to point a finger," said the first-year head coach Molnar about his team's offense, which totaled 59 yards. "We didn't throw the ball very well. We didn't run the ball very well. We didn't pass protect very well. I can't really say that there's one area of concern that's greater than the other. ... I'm disappointed in tonight."
UMass (0-1) kept their opponents within range through one quarter, trailing by seven, but UConn (1-0) broke the game open with 13 second-quarter points to go up 20-0 at the break. The Huskies scored 17 points in the second half to conclude the game and earn the win.
Chandler Whitmer completed 15-of-25 passes for 219 yards and two interceptions in his first career FBS start (and game) for UConn. Lyle McCombs rushed for 84 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries while Geremy Davis had five catches for 79 yards.
Mike Wegzyn, also making his FBS debut, threw for 56 yards on 9-of-22 passing and was intercepted. A.J. Doyle also saw time under center, but he did not complete a pass. Chris Burns, whose nine-yard rush in the final minute of the second quarter moved the chains for the first time in the FBS for UMass, rushed for 17 yards on 11 carries.
"Definitely played a good team in UConn," said Wegzyn. "Didn't go the way we planned, obviously. We've got a lot of things to correct. Hopefully we can just go back tomorrow, start watching film and correct what we need to and do a better job next week."
The lone highlight for the Minutemen was a first-quarter interception in which Darren Thellen tipped a Whitmer pass that was headed out of bounds back inbounds to Tom Brandt.
"That was just luck," Thellen said. "I was in a cover two coverage, the quarterback threw it out of bounds. I wanted to get the pick, but I knew I couldn't make it so I just jumped up and I saw one of my teammates close by [and] I tried to throw it to him. Fortunately, he caught it."
UMass returns to Massachusetts to face Indiana next Saturday in its first home game at Gillette Stadium as an FBS team. UConn will face N.C. State next Saturday in Connecticut.