This loss wasn't about offensive play-calling, diversity on first down or the running game. No, this was an all-around loss.
The offense, defense and special teams failed to make plays they could have and should have made. This loss was about missed blocks, dropped passes, two huge turnovers on offense, combined with a defense that produced one sack after coming in as one of the top teams in the nation in that category.
UConn showed a late sense of urgency that wasn't there in the first half, which made this one close.
"I thought we did some things really good and we did some things not so good, dug ourselves a hole, 17-0," UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "I'm proud of the way the kids hung in there and fought back. We had a chance at the end to possibly tie the game, kind of along the lines of the N.C. State game. But at the end of the day, in a game like this we turned it over twice. They did not."
Both teams are 2-2 but the win was very big for Western Michigan because it was the program's first win over a BCS program at Waldo Stadium.
The Huskies' very last "not-so-good" was really bad, resulting in a strip sack for Western Michigan's Desmond Bozeman, who picked up the ball and race 53 yards for a touchdown with 7:12 left. The play was huge. UConn had just worked its way to 24-17 on a Chad Christen 32-yard field goal 1:35 earlier.
"[Quarterback Chandler Whitmer] has his eyes down the field and that's where his attention is and didn't see the linebacker and the linebacker hit him and the ball came out," Pasqualoni said. "The same thing happened to Peyton Manning the other night. It happens."
After the Bozeman score the Huskies came right back and scored by driving 80 yards on eight plays with Whitmer hitting Geremy Davis (nine catches, 123 yards, TD) with a 7--yard scoring strike with 54 seconds left.
What did the offensive line see on the strip sack?
"We saw a guy on the line and we did something called a sort," senior tackle Jimmy Bennett said. "We were sorting the two different [linebackers] and we just didn't pick it up. Maybe someone didn't bump off but we had trouble with it all day. We picked it up sometimes but sometimes we didn't."
The play was devastating and when you couple that turnover with the interception Whitmer threw at the Western Michigan 2 in the first quarter, well, it was too much to overcome.
Whitmer had his best day by far, completing 28 of 44 for 333 yards and three touchdowns. He entered as one of two starting quarterbacks in Division I-A who had not thrown a TD pass. He was also among the national leaders at interceptions and now has six. And he was also sacked six times.
The UConn defense never sacked Western Michigan's Alex Carder (18 of 34, 237 yards, one TD), who left late in the third quarter after hitting his hand on Trevardo Williams' helmet and did not return.
Carder, who passed for five touchdowns against UConn last season, was replaced by Tyler Van Tubbergen (3 of 6, 16 yards). But the UConn defense never touched Carder. It got close but his release was so quick the defense, which had been monstrous on quarterbacks until Saturday, was completely held at bay.
UConn's active linebackers were forced to play more pass coverage against Carder. That allowed him to hit some screens underneath but even though receivers Jamie Wilson (8 catches, 100 yards) and Josh Schaffer (6, 104, , 1 TD) were tightly covered, Carder got the ball to them.
It helped Antoin Scriven to score from a yard out to give the Broncos a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter. The key play in the drive was a 39-yard pass to Wilson. It also helped Dareyon Chance score on a 9-yard run to complete a 12-play, 60-yard drive highlighted by Carder converting a third-and-15.
"Couldn't get to him," linebacker Yawin Smallwood said. "He was getting the ball out too fast."
Whitmer led UConn on a 12-play, 66-yard drive for a score, a 9-yard TD pass to Ryan Griffin to pull to 17-7.
After Christen missed a 51-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter, Carder made the Huskies pay with a 30-yard TD pass to Schaffer and a 24-7 lead.
Like Whitmer, Lyle McCombs also had his best game stats-wise. He carried 23 times for 119 yards as the Huskies outgained Western Michigan, 425-330.
Whitmer led UConn on a seven-play, 60-yard drive ending with John Delahunt's 2-yard touchdown catch, the second of his career, with 4:15 left, cutting it to 24-14. Christen followed with a field goal.
"Without a doubt we're upset," senior captain and guard Adam Masters said. "We're definitely not accepting this. We're about to go watch the film and get it corrected and find ways to win because this is unacceptable."