Sep 24, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  Connecticut Huskies quarterback Zion Turner (11) looks to pass during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Leary throws 4 TDs as NC State blows by UConn

Devin Leary threw four touchdown passes and No. 12 North Carolina State geared up for a showdown by rolling past visiting Connecticut 41-10 on Saturday night at Raleigh, N.C.

The Wolfpack (4-0) finished nonconference play and open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule next Saturday at unbeaten Clemson.

NC State, which has played three consecutive home games, ironed out wrinkles in its passing attack with Leary completing 32 of 44 passes for 320 yards with one interception in slightly more than three quarters of action. Thayer Thomas made five catches for 115 yards.

Connecticut’s points came on Noe Ruelas’ 28-yard field goal on the last play of the first half and on Victor Rosa’s 11-yard run with 2:08 remaining. At the very least, the Huskies (1-4) avoided a second consecutive shutout.

NC State’s defense held Connecticut to 160 yards of total offense, with 70 of those coming on the late touchdown drive. Starting quarterback Zion Turner of the Huskies threw for 39 yards on 10-for-12 passing.

The outcome was never in doubt, with the Wolfpack scoring on the first snap of the game on Leary’s 75-yard pass play to Thomas.

On the next NC State possession, it took nine plays to cover 62 yards with Demie Sumo-Karngbaye running 20 yards for a touchdown.

In the second quarter, Leary made a 1-yard touchdown toss to Devin Carter and a 2-yard scoring pass to Keyon Lesane. He threw to Porter Rooks for a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

NC State led 31-3 at halftime.

Two of the Wolfpack’s longest possessions in terms of snaps came on 11-play marches for field goals. Christopher Dunn was good from 48 yards late in the first quarter and Collin Smith was used for a 40-yarder early in the fourth quarter. Smith later missed from 47 yards.

Michael Allen rushed for 66 yards on 10 carries for the Wolfpack.

NC State improved to 3-0 all-time against the Huskies, also winning in 2003 and 2012.

–Field Level Media

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates on the sidelines during the second half of the 56-10 win over Hawaii on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Ann Arbor.

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Set at quarterback, No. 4 Michigan moves on to UConn

No. 4 Michigan dismantled overmatched opponents in its first two games, with another opportunity to continue the early trend against visiting UConn on Saturday.

Along the way, there still were decisions the Wolverines needed to make.

Michigan’s quarterback controversy was settled — at least for the time being — when coach Jim Harbaugh named J.J. McCarthy his starter after the Wolverines blasted Hawaii 56-10 on Saturday. Cade McNamara, last year’s starter and opening-game starter this season, has been relegated to backup duty.

“By merit he’s earned that,” Harbaugh said of McCarthy. “That’s by performance, by merit.”

McCarthy completed all but one of his 12 pass attempts against Hawaii for 229 yards and three touchdowns. He also has been a bigger running threat than McNamara with 66 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against Colorado State.

McNamara, who passed for 2,576 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, heard some boos when he replaced McCarthy during the Hawaii blowout.

Harbaugh tried to shrug it off.

“I do, the coaches do, our players do — they embrace the fact that we have two really good quarterbacks,” Harbaugh said. “You’d love for your fan base to be able to do that. I don’t expect you (the media) to do that, or if you do or don’t it’s irrelevant. The main thing is it’s a big edge for our team to have two really good quarterbacks, and we as a team embrace that. So outside of that, it would be irrelevant.”

McNamara has completed 54.2 percent of his passes over the first two games, while McCarthy has completed 93.8 percent.

Blake Corum has led the rushing attack, but the Wolverines have used a variety of ballcarriers. Four different players scored a rushing touchdown in the opener. That number increased to five against Hawaii. Corum has scored twice while averaging 7.5 yards per carry.

The Wolverines will wrap up their non-conference schedule on Saturday. Their chase to defend last season’s Big Ten championship will begin Sept. 24 against Maryland.

UConn dropped to 1-2 with a 48-14 home loss to Syracuse on Saturday. The Huskies’ defense was torched for 470 total yards and 29 first downs.

UConn already has been hit hard by injuries. Starting quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson is out for the season with a torn ACL. Running back Brian Brewton came away with a fractured shoulder against Syracuse. Wide receivers Cam Ross (broken foot) and Keelan Marion (broken collarbone) also are sidelined.

Freshman quarterback Zion Turner completed 14 of 17 passes Saturday but for just 92 yards, and 56 came on one pass.

“I’m not going to make excuses with injuries,” UConn coach Jim Mora Jr. said. “We have to find ways to get guys open. Guys have to get separation, and we have to help them create separation with the design of our plays.”

Mora likes the way his team has continued to play hard through adversity, using the effort shown on trying to block field goals and extra points as prime examples.

“I’ve seen teams that have a lot more talent and a lot less heart just give up in situations like that,” he said. “Our guys aren’t going to give up. Yeah, we have a tough stretch. We take it one play at a time. Win the next down — that’s got to be our mindset.”

The programs have faced each other just twice, with Michigan prevailing in 2010 and 2013.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Connecticut Huskies tight end Brandon Niemenski (83) makes the touchdown catch against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils in the second quarter at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Carter carries UConn to victory over Central Connecticut

Nate Carter rushed for over 100 yards for the second straight week and Connecticut overcame a slow start to post a 28-3 victory over Central Connecticut State on Saturday afternoon at East Hartford, Conn.

With 123 yards, it was the fourth tripl- digit rushing game of the career for Carter, a sophomore who rushed for 190 yards in the opening loss at Utah State last Saturday.

The victory was the first at UConn for new head coach Jim Mora Jr., who took over the Huskies program this season.

Quarterback Zion Turner was 14-of-22 passing for 172 yards and two touchdowns in his first collegiate start as the Huskies (1-1) broke open a tight, mistake-riddled contest with three second-half touchdowns.

In addition to Turner’s scoring strikes of 11 yards to Brandon Niemenski in the first half and 10 yards to Jacob Flynn in the fourth quarter, Carter and freshman Victor Rosa had rushing touchdowns of 17 and 11 yards, respectively in the second half.

Each team had field-goal attempts blocked and the Blue Devils (0-1) missed a short attempt when trailing by just 7-3 after driving for a first down at UConn’s 2-yard line to start the second half.

The Huskies had three turnovers, including an end zone interception in the closing seconds of the first half. They were penalized eight times for 55 yards.

The Huskies rushed for 274 yards in total offense while holding the visitors to just 78 yards. They outgained the Blue Devils 446-242 in total offense.

Romelo Williams was 15-of-28 passing with 134 yards and an interception for CCSU. Malik Thomas led the Blue Devils in rushing with 63 yards.

After a scoreless opening quarter, the Blue Devils broke the ice early in the second with Cristiano Rosa’s 28-yard kick less than four minutes into the second period.

In response to the 3-0 deficit, the UConn drove 80 yards on 11 plays with Turner capping the drive with an 11-yard touchdown strike to Niemenski.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2021; Hartford, Connecticut, USA; The new UConn Huskies Football head coach Jim Mora address the Huskies women   s basketball crowd during a break in the action against the Arkansas Razorbacks at XL Center. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

After promising start despite loss, UConn faces Central Connecticut

UConn will welcome Central Connecticut State for its home opener Saturday, coming off generally positive reviews from the Huskies’ season opener a week ago.

The reality, though, is that the Huskies fell 31-20 at Utah State, and first-year UConn coach Jim Mora Jr. isn’t about to be satisfied with pats on the back.

“You start accepting ‘good job,’ you’ll never become what we’ve set out to become,” said Mora, whose previous college game as a head coach before last week was in 2017 at UCLA.

The Huskies, who were 1-11 last season, jumped to a 14-0 lead against Utah State but were down 24-14 at halftime and added only a pair of field goals the rest of the way.

When a knee injury sidelined starting quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson early in the game, the Huskies were forced to use true freshman Zion Turner much earlier than expected.

Turner had his first pass intercepted and showed inconsistency, going 12-of-31 passing for 109 yards and a touchdown. With Roberson, a transfer from Penn State, likely out for the season, Turner will get his first collegiate start this week.

“I have high expectations for Zion but probably not near as high as he has for himself,” Mora said. “The kid is a winner. He just has not lost a lot of games in his life.”

The Huskies also lost starting wide receiver Keelan Marion to a broken collarbone. That left much of the load on offense to sophomore running back Nathan Carter, who rushed for 190 yards on 20 carries.

Central Connecticut State also is looking for a bounce-back season. The FBC team finished 4-7 last year after sitting out the 2020 campaign because of COVID-19 concerns. The Blue Devils were 11-2 and won the Northeast Conference title in 2019.

“I think we’ve got a group of guys that are leading from the front, that guys gravitate toward and believe in,” Blue Devils coach Ryan McCarthy said, according to the New Britain (Conn.) Herald.

–Field Level Media

Jan 5, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA;Jim Mora on the ESPN broadcast set during College Football Playoff Championship Media Day at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UConn names Jim Mora head coach

Former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora is taking over the downtrodden program at Connecticut.

Mora, who last coached at UCLA from 2012-17, will join the Huskies (1-8) as an assistant coach for the final three games of this season before beginning his tenure as UConn’s 32nd head coach on Nov. 28.

He succeeds Randy Edsall, who stepped down on Sept. 6 after an 0-2 start. Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos has been the interim head coach since.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to become the head football coach at the University of Connecticut,” Mora said in a statement. “UConn possesses a nationally recognized academic and athletics brand and I am thrilled to become a member of the community that makes up UConn Nation. This program is loaded with potential, and I look forward to getting to know the student-athletes on the team and am eager to get to work!”

Mora, who turns 60 on Nov. 19, agreed to a five-year contract through the 2026 season and will earn $1.5 million in his first year. The deal announced Thursday includes an additional $200,000 in annual performance incentives.

“Getting to know Jim Mora over the last several days has been a terrific experience,” athletic director David Benedict said in a news release. “Jim is a proven winner, a man of integrity, and he possesses the experience and the energy to lead our football program back to success. Jim is excited and undaunted by this challenge, and we both know that this program has great potential. I’m certain that, under Coach Mora’s leadership, UConn football will once again realize that potential.”

Mora has 31 years of coaching experience in the NFL and NCAA. He led the Falcons to a 26-22 record from 2004-06 and was 5-11 during his lone season with the Seahawks in 2009. The Bruins went 46-30 under his direction from 2012-17, including four consecutive bowl appearances.

Mora has also worked as an analyst for NFL Network, Fox Sports and ESPN.

He takes over a UConn program that is 10-47 since the start of the 2016 season. The Huskies, who compete in FBS as an independent, did not play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UConn has not been to a bowl game since 2015 and has not finished with a winning record since 2010.

Connecticut has been outscored 324-146 this season, including shutout losses to Fresno State (45-0) and Purdue (49-0). The team has been idle since a 4-13 loss to Middle Tennessee on Oct. 22.

The Huskies’ next game is Saturday at Clemson, followed by a road game at UCF on Nov. 20 and a home date with Houston on Nov. 27.

–Field Level Media

Vanderbilt head coach Clark Lea watches his team as they lose 62 to 0 against Georgia at Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

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Vanderbilt, UConn look to shake off latest losses

Vanderbilt lost its most recent game after a dismal first quarter while UConn fought to the end before falling for the fifth time in as many contests this season.

Two struggling teams will aim to rebound on Saturday night when the Commodores (1-3) host the Huskies (0-5) in Nashville, Tenn.

Music City also was the site of Vanderbilt’s latest loss, a game that saw No. 2 Georgia score 35 points in the first quarter en route to a 62-0 shellacking. The result was the 14th straight Southeastern Conference loss for the Commodores, who will return to conference play next week against Florida.

Ken Seals and Mike Wright combined to complete just 5 of 18 passes for 24 yards with two interceptions. The Commodores’ ground game amassed just 53 yards — 41 from Wright — in the bulldozing by the Bulldogs.

“This is just a point in the progression line. It doesn’t shake us because we understand it doesn’t define us,” Vanderbilt first-year coach Clark Lea said. “This is a delicate ecosystem. We’re in the infancy of our program. This is everything that we’ve talked about all the way up to this point. This is the long, hard way.”

UConn knows all about hard times this season, having already gone through a coaching change. The Huskies, in fact, have lost nine straight games dating to the 2019 season.

After getting blown out in three of their first four games in 2021, the Huskies had a chance to tie their more recent contest before failing to record a successful two-point conversion in the late stages of a 24-22 loss to Wyoming. The undefeated Cowboys entered the game as 30.5-point favorites.

“We’re getting better,” UConn interim coach Lou Spanos said. “Their heads have got to be up, because what they did, they fought. They fought to the end … we’ve got to finish the next opportunity.”

Huskies freshman quarterback Tyler Phommachanh completed 19 of 40 passes for 171 yards with one touchdown and one interception against Wyoming.

While those statistics aren’t dazzling, Phommachanh has provided a spark for a Huskies team that is seeking any semblance of a positive.

“He’s a massive bright spot right now. He definitely energizes the offense,” Huskies cornerback Jeremy Lucien said.

–Field Level Media

Aug 28, 2021; Fresno, California, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Randy Edsall stands on the sideline during action against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the fourth quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

UConn’s Randy Edsall steps down as head coach

Randy Edsall stepped down as UConn head coach Monday afternoon, one day after announcing he would retire at the end of the season.

Defensive coordinator Lou Spanos will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“Upon further reflection by both Randy and I, and after having the opportunity to visit with Randy today, we are both in agreement that it is in the best interest of our student-athletes to have a new voice leading UConn football,” Huskies athletic director David Benedict said in a statement.

Edsall, 63, was in his second stint as the Huskies’ head coach. He first coached the program from 1999-2010 before returning in 2017.

His first stint in Storrs was very successful, as he led the program’s transition from FCS football to major Division I football as a member of the Big East. He won conference titles in 2007 and 2010 and led the team to the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.

He left after the 2010 season to take the job at Maryland before returning to Connecticut in 2017.

UConn was 6-30 from 2017-2019 before canceling the 2020 season.

The Huskies got off to a terrible start this year, losing 45-0 to Fresno State and 38-28 to FCS Holy Cross at home Saturday.

Overall, Edsall compiled a 76-95 record at UConn.

Spanos, 50, was hired as the defensive coordinator in 2019. This will be his first time leading a football team as a head coach.

–Field Level Media