By Phil Chardis
UConn Athletic Communications
Andrew Adams' senior football season began exactly how he expected it to - with UConn ahead on the scoreboard and a pair of victories in the bank.
"There's great vibes all the way around, all around the program," said Adams after Saturday's win vs. Army at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. "There's no better feeling than winning. We prepared to win and that's what happened."
The win vs. Army avenged a heartbreaking 35-21 loss to the Black Knight last year at Yankee Stadium.
"The experience of having a year under our belts and having played them last year was huge," said Adams. "Our scout team did a great job all week preparing us for the game. It wasn't too different from what we saw in practice so I think that was a big help for us.
"I think we tackled better, especially in the second half. That was a point of emphasis for us at halftime after the long run their quarterback had in the first half and a few missed tackles. We focused on tackling. I think that was the key difference in our defense."
Adams has already recorded an interception in both UConn games this year. He grabbed UConn's first interception of the season against Villanova in the opener, which halted a third-quarter Wildcat drive as the Huskies were clinging to a 13-9 lead. On Saturday against the Black Knights, he had an interception with 2:21 to go and UConn hanging on to a 22-17 lead. He had five tackles in the Villanova game and led UConn with six on Saturday.
"I was thinking I'm in the right position, just make the play to put the game away," said Adams of his Army interception. "I was thinking in my head if I really make the play then the game is over. Thankfully, I made the play and the game was over."
Last season, Adams led the Huskies with four interceptions and was second on the team with 96 tackles, including a team-high 65 solo stops.
None of the stats, however, has made Adams as proud as the Huskies' all-out effort on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter against Villanova.
With just under 9:00 remaining and the Huskies still holding the tenuous four-point lead, Villanova put together a drive that penetrated to the UConn 36-yard line. On a third-and-1 play, however, the Husky defense rose up and stopped Villanova running back Javon White for no gain. Then on fourth down, UConn stopped elusive Villanova quarterback Jon Robertson cold, turning the ball over to the Huskies on downs. That change of possession resulted in UConn's third touchdown of the game and a much more comfortable 20-9 lead.
"That fourth-down stop was huge," said Adams, the Huskies defensive captain. "It came from all the hard work in the off-season --- lifting weights, bowing your back. Again, it's really the mentality. We knew before they ran that play that we were going to stop them, and we did. I'm just so proud of the guys for that." I
ronically, it was also another fourth-quarter Villanova drive that showed Adams that the Huskies still have work to do. The Wildcats came back with an 11-play march for a touchdown that cut the lead to 20-15 with 1:45 to go.
"That last drive in the fourth quarter, we have to stop them right there," Adams said. "We can't allow them to make that final push on the scoreboard. A big point of emphasis during the off-season was putting teams away, finishing the game. It's finishing it off early in the fourth quarter, so they are not even in the game at the end."
Yet as captain, Adams is not going to allow the Huskies to dwell on mistakes. This year's mentality is to keep heads up and quickly move on to the next challenge.
"Andrew has a lot of experience at his position, so he has a lot of cache with the team, being a veteran player," UConn head coach Bob Diaco said. "He is a demonstrative communicator and a quick thinker, so he's got a lot of answers. He's really like a coach on the field, getting guys in the right position."
So far, things are going as planned for the senior economics majors from Fayetteville, Ga. "I'm excited, the whole team is excited to get two wins right away," Adams said. "It feels so good in the home opener. It gets the whole state behind us and gives us momentum going into the rest of the season."
Adams is clearly captain of the Huskies' new mentality as well. "It's an honor," he said, "to be captain of the team that's going to turn around UConn football."