It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that UConn football players have the Maryland and Michigan games circled on their schedules.
They’re highlights of the best football schedule UConn has had.
Temple in Philadelphia is part of the schedule too. And Nov. 23 is the date senior kicker Chad Christen has highlighted on his schedule. For one thing, he’s a Pennsylvania kid, from Etters in York County.
In addition, the 2012 Temple game, a 17-14 overtime loss at Rentschler Field, represents Christen’s worst game since taking over for record-setting Dave Teggart following the 2011 season.
Christen was 14 of 21 on field goals last season. Against the Owls, he missed all four attempts. Twelve points went wide left, wide right — and by the boards.
It was a game the Huskies should have won, and Christen wasn’t the only reason UConn lost. The defense broke down at inopportune times, and the offense was already mired in a scoring slump, but two made kicks would have been enough to propel the Huskies to victory. They could have finished 6-6, instead of 5-7 for the second straight year.
Six wins looks a lot better than five. Six qualifies for a bowl game.
“I want to continue where I left off, making seven in a row,” said Christen, who had offseason hip/groin surgery. “It gave me a lot of confidence at the end of the season. This is a new season and I literally have a new leg, so that’s how I kind of look at it.
“I do have that Temple game circled, though. It’s a big game for me, rebound game. I’m from Pennsylvania. It’s down there this year so, yeah, I’m really looking forward to that one.”
Christen was 3-for-3 in the 2012 season opener against UMass, then followed that with three games in which he was 1-for-2, before hitting a wall against Temple. His 7-for-7 streak to close the season included a 3-for-3 effort against BCS bowl-bound Louisville. His 30-yarder in the third overtime of 23-20 win at Louisville represented one of two losses the Cardinals had all season.
So it’s not a question of whether Christen can get the job done. It’s can he do it consistently?
“It’s a whole new season, a whole new approach to the season, and that’s the case collectively too,” Christen said.
Bobby Puyol, now a sophomore, handled the kicking duties in the final game against Cincinnati last season because of Christen’s injured hip, and there was some concern that Christen might not be able to kick off in the opener against Towson State.
But Christen said he’ll be ready.
“I made a commitment to myself and to the team this whole summer,” he said. “I stayed up here and rehabbed with [trainer Bob Howard] and his staff and it was well worth it.”
Puyol is prepared just in case.
“I’ll do anything for the team,” he said. “If that’s what the team needs, then that’s what the team needs. But Chad is doing well, so cross my fingers.”