After not playing in 2020, the UConn Huskies are back playing football this fall for the first time since November 2019.
I’m excited to watch them play after the one year hiatus. But Randy Edall has his work cut out for him in his fourth full season in his second stint at the helm of the UConn program.
As mentioned earlier, UConn didn’t take the field in the COVID impacted college football 2020 season. This is a program that has seen a steep decline in recent years as they now operate life as an FBS Independent.
16th season at UConn (second stint), 80-100 (.444)
19th season overall, 102-134 (.432)
The Huskies are now living life as an Independent, albeit a year late.
UConn did close to nothing offensively in their last season (2019) in the American Atlantic Conference and the offense still has a lot of question marks and work to do. It didn’t help that they weren’t able to do much this spring.
UConn has a few options in the mix for starting Quarterback. I think they’ll go with whoever provides a spark and who doesn’t throw a bazillion interceptions. Sophomore Jack Zergiotis was thrown into the deep end to sink or swim in 2019 and threw for 1,782 yards and nine touchdowns, but threw 11 interceptions. Junior Micah Leon, a NC State transfer and sophomore Steven Krajewski are all in the QB mix as well.
The Huskies return most of their receiving crew from 2019 other than Ardell Brown. Cameron Ross who led UConn in receptions in 2019 with 60 will probably be their No. 1 receiver.
In the running back room, leading rusher from 2019 Kevin Mensah is back and will be the workhorse, but the rest of the RB’s are unproven.
The offensive line didn’t do much in the ground game in 2019 and was even worse in pass protection. The one bright side is that it was a very young group in 2019 and had a full year in the weight room. The down side, their best blocker from 2019, Matt Peart, is now a New York Giant, and there’s not a ton of size up front.
As bad as the offense was in 2019, the defense was even worse. The Huskies allowed 467 yards and 40.5 points per game, they were a disaster against the run and did essentially nothing to get behind the line. However, like the offense, the defense was young in 2019 and had a full year to workout, hit the weights and get ready for 2021.
The defense needs to get a pass rush. The two best players to do so are junior Travis Jones and junior Kevon Jones to work around. There are options, but the production needs to come.
The UConn defense only had seven interceptions in 2019 and the secondary had six of them. Diamond Harrell returns at one of the safety spots. The corners are young, but have a wee bit of experience.
Best Offensive Player:
Senior RB Kevin Mensah.
Best Defensive Player:
Senior LB Omar Fortt.
Top Incoming Transfer:
Freshman (since last year didn’t count towards eligibility) cornerback Stan Cross, who played at Iowa Central Community College in 2020.
Biggest Key Offensively:
Get the chains moving.
Controlling the clock wasn’t a problem in 2019, UConn owned the time of possession battle, but the offense has to do a much better job of going on decent marches. The offensive unit converted on just 29-percent of their third down conversions in 2019.
Biggest Key On Defense:
Get off the field.
The third down defense in 2019 was terrible, as they allowed opponents to convert on 50-percent of their third down tries.
The defense needs to minimize giving up the home runs and generate more big moments on third down.
The over/under win total for UConn is at 2.5 right now.
Just how much will UConn improve as the season rolls on? It’s going to be a rough schedule early and a brutal stretch late.
It’s a program that’s still playing college football, but it doesn’t have a conference title to play for and going to a bowl game is a massive reach this year considering the schedule.
The Huskies should beat Holy Cross and Yale from the FCS slate, and it has to beat UMass on the road or else it will be an ugly year.
I think UConn will likely be 3-9 in 2021.
Can there be an upset somewhere along the way like at home against Wyoming or Middle Tennessee State? Or maybe the program can put a period on this rough era and kick off a new one by closing out the 2021 season with a win over Houston.