2021 Connecticut vs UMass

UConn, UMass Chasing Elusive First Victory

UConn, UMass Chasing Elusive First Victory

UConn takes on UMass this weekend in a battle of the winless. UConn will have a decision to make at quarterback in the lead-up to the game.

Oct 7, 2021 by Roger Brown
UConn, UMass Chasing Elusive First Victory

The University of Massachusetts football program has lost 16 games in a row. Connecticut has lost its last 10 games, and 30 of its last 31 outings against FBS opponents. 

One team will end its streak of futility Saturday, when the Minutemen (0-5) and Huskies (0-6) meet in Amherst, Mass. 

If UConn prevails, it will do so without freshman quarterback Tyler Phommachanh, who sustained a leg injury during the first half of last weekend’s 30-28 loss at Vanderbilt. He returned to the sideline on crutches for the second half of that game.

“He’s out indefinitely,” UConn interim head coach Lou Spanos said. “Right now it’s indefinitely, and we’ll see how (the injury) progresses during the remaining weeks of the season.”

Phommachanh started UConn’s last three games. He completed 35 of 72 passes for 321 yards and one touchdown, and was intercepted twice. Phommachanh also carried the ball 24 times for 137 yards in those three contests.

Sophomore Steve Krajewski replaced Phommachanh in the Vanderbilt game and completed 18 of 34 passes for 264 yards and two TDs. He was intercepted twice. Krajewski also ran for 58 yards and a TD on six carries. 

Krajewski was UConn’s starting quarterback in a 49-0 loss to Purdue in Week 3. He was 14 of 25 for 99 yard and an interception in that game. The Huskies could also turn to Jack Zergotis, who was the team’s starting QB for the first two games this season.

The UConn offense will be up against a UMass defense allowing an average of 517.8 yards per game. Among FBS teams, only Arkansas State is allowing more (563.8).

“We’ll see who has a good week of practice and also what the other starters do,” Spanos said. “We’re going to evaluate both quarterbacks and go from there.” 

UConn’s last win was a 56-35 victory over Umass in 2019. UMass is seeking its first victory since it beat Akron in 2019.

“It’s a big game for everyone and practice reflected that today,” UMass coach Walt Bell said Tuesday. “Coach Spanos has those guys playing good football right now and obviously they’ve continued to improve. Much like us, they’ve played a pretty rough schedule, so we expect the best version of them on Saturday.”

Back Down

Bell said running back Kay’Ron Adams will miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Adams transferred to UMass from Rutgers.

 Junior Ellis Merriweather is the only healthy scholarship back UMass will have available Saturday. He ran for a career-high 144 yards on 23 carries against Eastern Michigan the last time he was the Minutemen’s featured back. Adams missed that game with an injury.

“As far as keeping myself healthy, I’m just thinking about how I can be better for the team,” Merriweather said. “That’s unfortunate about Kay’ron. … We’ll miss him in our running back room, but sometimes you have to have that next-man-up mentality. I’m trying to make the most of my opportunity.”

Lack Of Movement

UMass was held to 134 yards in last weekend’s 45-7 loss to Toledo. Quarterback Brady Olson, a true freshman, completed 9 of 22 passes for 109 yards (1 TD, 1 INT). The Minutemen, who are averaging 14.6 points per contest, had 23 yards rushing on 26 attempts.

“We set out to run the football, and we didn’t run the football successfully knowing that they’re a really good defense,” Bell said. “We didn’t move the ball early enough to take the pressure off of Brady, so Brady got put into some really hard positions. We’ve got to continue to fight to run the football and we weren’t really able to do that. That put our quarterbacks into some hard situations.” 


UConn linebacker Jackson Mitchell, a sophomore, is tied for first  in the country with 61 total tackles and ranks 10th with 10.2 tackles per game.