Connecticut Huskies 2012 football preview
Last year, the first season under coach Paul Pasqualoni, was a disappointment for UConn. One year removed from the program’s first trip to a BCS bowl (Fiesta Bowl), the Huskies failed to even finish bowl eligible in Coach P’s first season back in the college ranks since 2004. It ended a string of four straight bowl appearances for the school, which became a full NCAA FBS member in 2002.
The Huskies lost four games by a touchdown or less and never won two games in a row. Twice, they lost two in a row, including 24-21 to Vanderbilt and 24-20 to Iowa State early in the season.
One bright spot on the offense in 2011 was the emergence of Lyle McCombs, who rushed for 1,151 yards and seven touchdowns to follow in the footsteps of 1,000-yard rushers Donald Brown, Andre Dixon and Jordan Todman.
For the second straight season, a veteran defense returns with eight starters back from a unit that allowed a Big East-low 85.7 rushing yards per game. But, UConn was the worst in the league at stopping teams in the air, allowing 281 yards per game, and finished next to last in total defense (366.7 ypg).
After finishing last in the Big East in total offense (313.2 ypg), Connecticut mined the junior college and Division I transfer ranks to bolster the passing game. Starting quarterback Johnny McEntee returns as does scrambler Scott McCummings, but this is a position in need of a major upgrade. The Huskies added Chandler Whitmer, who passed for 3,022 yards and 25 touchdowns in one season at Butler County (Kan.) Community College, to a crowded quarterback mix.
The four-man battle for the starting quarterback job didn’t really clear itself up this spring. Each candidate had ugly numbers in the spring game and some of the scrimmages.
All-Big East Second Team DE Trevardo Williams leads a defense that returns eight starters from last year. UConn was 13th in the country in sacks with 34. Williams had 12.5 of them. All three starting linebackers return. The Huskies will miss the production of K David Teggart, who is the school’s career scoring leader.
The schedule will not be easy, though, with ACC schools NC State and Maryland following the opener against UMass. The Terps’ game will be the first time former head coach Randy Edsall, who spent 11 years in Storrs, plays his old program.
Four of the team’s first six games are at Rentschler Field, where UConn went 4-3 last season. The downside to the schedule is that three of the final four games — all in the Big East — will be on the road. UConn was just 1-4 away from home in 2011.
WagerWeb.com odds to win Big East: +2000 (longest shot)
Kevin Friend, OT
Steve Greene, OG
Ryan Griffin, TE
Adam Masters, OG
Lyle McCombs, RB
Johnny McEntee, QB
Ty-Meer Brown, S
Dwayne Gratz, CB
Jory Johnson, LB
Byron Jones, S
Jesse Joseph, DE
Sio Moore, LB
Yawin Smallwood, LB
Trevardo Williams, DE
Special teams (1)
Cole Wagner, P
Aug. 30– Massachusetts
Sept. 8–NC State
Nov. 3–@ South Florida