As we continue our breakdown of the Bearcat Insider Big East Preseason Rankings, we get to team number seven in our poll. Here is the following Preseason poll as released by the media at the Big East meetings this week.
As you can see the Bearcats didn't receive any love from the media. But while it's only the preseason, here is my breakdown of the team I feel will finish in the number seven spot when all is said and done.
Team #7 is
After spending time waiting for their start into the Big East Conference in 2004, the Connecticut Huskies did a great job of representing the Big East while others were verbally tearing it down. A bowl victory in the Motor City Bowl against Toledo helps the program to take its place with its new Big East brothers. But while 2004 was a great year, 2005 will be one of great concern and possible setback.
The Huskies will see their best production from their defensive front. Shawn Mayne and Rhema Fuller will provide the strength needed to keep the Huskies with constant pressure against teams rushing attacks while also being able to rush the passer and create havoc. Combined the two had 7.5 sacks and 72 tackles last season. But while the focus will go to these two first, depth in this area becomes a great strength.
The seven players that will man the defensive line positions combined last season for 10.5 sacks and 134 tackles.
Offensive line will see the biggest adjustments for the Huskies. While it would be easy to say quarterback was the biggest loss, the play along an inexperience line will prove way too much for UConn to overcome. A true freshman will be looked to man the center position and make the calls needed for adjustments along the line. On the edge you have experience players, but one will be moving from guard to tackle and the other is moving to the other side.
The Huskies will be without star quarterback Dan Orlovsky when the team takes the field this fall. In his place they will look towards Matt Bonislawski (JR) and D.J. Hernandez to come close to the 10,000 + yards and 84 touchdowns Orlovsky was responsible for in his career. While Bonislawski looks to be the favorite heading into preseason camp, Hernandez gives the coaching staff a quarterback with some mobility to help a suspect offensive line.
WHY THE HUSKIES WILL NOT BE #7
UConn proved they could beat a bigger program when they knocked off Pittsburgh last season. This year they see teams they can beat head into Connecticut. Also add in the return of running back Terry Caulley who's been out since a major knee injury in 2003 and you have maybe the strongest running team in the conference. If they can get solid play from their offensive line the backs will both have great years and the Huskies will see more wins on the board and make a return trip to a bowl.
WHY THE HUSKIES FINISH #7
Last season was no fluke. UConn had some great talent and they produced when it mattered most. But look who the victories were against in 2004, Murray State, Duke, Army, Temple, Buffalo and Rutgers. While they will post some wins against weaker teams like Liberty, Buffalo, Army and at least one Big East team that visits them, the loss of talent will be too much to overcome. Tough road trips to Cincinnati, West Virginia and Pittsburgh along with an out of conference battle against Georgia Tech will make this team fall apart before Louisville heads in to close out the season.
ALL BIG EAST PROSPECTS
RB: CORNELL BROCKINGTON
DE: SHAWN MAYNE
RB: TERRY CAULEY
LB: JAMES HARGRAVE
9/1 - BUFFALO
9/10 - LIBERTY
9/17 - @ GEORGIA TECH
10/1 - @ ARMY
10/7 - SYRACUSE
10/15 - @ CINCINNATI
10/22 - RUTGERS
11/2 - @ WEST VIRGINIA
11/12 - @ PITTSBURGH
11/26 - SOUTH FLORIDA
12/3 - LOUISVILLE
The Huskies surprised many with their 8-4 mark in 2004. That won't be the case in 2005 with so many holes to fill. While many talk about the loss of quarterback being the biggest loss, don't be surprised if you hear filling the shoes of two very good linebackers was bigger. The season should see a fast start and a 3-1 mark before Syracuse heads into battle the Huskies. But things will only get tougher after the Orange leave with road trips to Cincinnati, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. I look for UConn to finish with an overall record of 5-6 for 2005 and finish in the 7th spot of the Big East Conference.