Army Opponent Preview: at Connecticut

In week two this fall Army West Point will travels to Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut to take on the UConn Huskies. This will be the Black Knights first matchup against an FBS opponent in 2015 and it will give an excellent early indication of where this team is headed under second year head coach Jeff Monken.

2014 Record: 2-10 (1-7 in the American Athletic Conference

Series Record: Connecticut leads 4-2 in a series which dates back to a first meeting in 1979 which Army won 26-10. The schools didn’t meet again until 2003, when in a four game series over consecutive years Army lost all four games by a combined score of 156-44.

Last Meeting: In a game with an absolutely thrilling finish, the Black Knights were able to hold off the Huskies 35-21 at Yankee Stadium. The win was Army West Point’s first at the venue since 1960, and was clinched when Chris Carnegie returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown with less than half a minute left on the clock.

Head Coach: Bob Diaco is entering his second season as the Huskies head coach with a 2-10 (.167) win/loss record. This is Diaco’s first head coaching job, but he was much sought after as a candidate after a hugely successful job as an assistant/coordinator at Notre Dame.

Spring News: Connecticut went into the spring needing to find a quarterback and came out of the spring, well…still needing to find a quarterback. During the spring the competition seemed to be narrowed down to newly-eligible transfer Bryant Shirreffs and junior Tim Boyle. With neither able to take a firm hold of the job, however, the door may still be open for JuCo transfer Garrett Anderson to come in and steal the starting gig. Whoever does get the job will be without a projected top target, as potential team captain and starting tight-end Sean McQuillan was dismissed from the team in June after being charged with second degree assault.

Projected Strengths: In 2015 the Huskies are going to be a team which relies heavily on its defense. UConn returns seven starters, including three of its top four tacklers from last fall. After switching to a base 3-4 alignment last spring, this year the coaching could focus more on making individual players better as opposed to just setting the scheme. That subtle difference in how the coaching was presented will have a big impact this fall.

Senior linebackers Marquise Vann (105 tackles) and Graham Stewart (94 tackles and 10.5 tackles for a loss) will be the leaders of this defense and both are talented players. The back end of the defense is also in great hands and the secondary may be the strongest overall unit on the team. Free safety Andrew Adams defied his role with 96 tackles a year ago, while cornerbacks Jhavon Williams and Jamar Summers are outstanding cover guys.

Projected Weaknesses: The defense projects to be very good, but it will be for naught if the offense doesn’t improve on an awful 2014 where it averaged just 15.5 points per game. As mentioned above the quarterback position is still very much in flux and any one of the three candidates could still get the opening day nod. Diaco must find a starter early in fall camp and still with that player if the offense is to develop any continuity by the time this game rolls around.

The offensive line is also a major worry for the nation’s 123rd best offense from a year ago. In the giant (6’8”, 310-pound) Andreas Knappe and fellow junior Richard Levy the tackles are in place. The line as a whole though just didn’t look comfortable with relying on each other last fall and that showed in the putrid offensive production. Wide receiver is also an issue with the top two players from 2014 having departed.

Prediction: UConn has all the looks of a multi-year rebuilding project. Diaco was only able to bring in 16 players in an abbreviated recruiting class last summer, so in essence this is his actual first year on the job. The defense will be decent, and with a few breaks the defense could actually trend towards good. The offense, however, has been miserable since 2009 and it is hard to see the pieces here to fix it overnight. UConn is moving in the right direction, but this first FBS game of the season should still result in a win for Army West Point. Top Stories