A look at the Connecticut Huskies

The Connecticut Huskies travel to Rutgers for a Big-East game this Sunday night, October 29th. Over the years this has been a great game. The Scarlet Knights look to make it 2-consecutive years with victories over the rival Huskies. This game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

Connecticut is a team that has been a thorn to Greg Schiano and this Rutgers program over the last several years. Over this time period, UConn holds a 3-1 record vs. Rutgers, with the Scarlet Knights finally getting their first win against the Huskies last year, 26-24. All of these games have been very heated contests. And as many have projected, it appears that this game is developing into a natural rivalry with the intensity of the match-up and close proximity of these programs. However, this year Rutgers has had its most successful year in its history, whereas UConn has had a very disappointing campaign due to injuries, off the field issues, and a need to infuse youth that has not developed yet from a physical and mental standpoint. This is a game, that on-paper Rutgers should win easily - they are 19-point favorites. However, UConn Coach Randy Edsall is very good at getting the best out of his players and one should expect the Huskies to come in with a good game plan. On the Rutgers side, they must come out and show they can handle their success and not allow this to become a "trap" game. With a big win on the road last week against Pitt, and the game everyone has been waiting for 2-weeks from now against Louisville, it is very possible for this team to lose focus this week against the Huskies. The Huskies will be ready to play and will bring their A-game. If Rutgers is truly a championship caliber team, they'll take care of business. If they slack, this one could get interesting. At the end of this nationally televised contest, we shall have a better idea if Rutgers can handle the success of becoming a top-20 program.

Player Personnel
QB - The Huskies started the year with DJ Hernandez as the starter. Hernandez is a very good athlete and has a strong arm. But he has been very inconsistent in the early parts of the year. In a 24-13 loss vs. Wake Forest, in a game the Huskies completely dominated from a statistical standpoint, Hernandez threw an interception that was returned 86 yards for a TD. That may have been the difference in that game. The following week he threw for only 27 yards and 2 Int vs. Indiana. At this point in time, Edsall chose to make a QB change and install Matt Bonislawski. "Bones" had some success last year as a starter before an injury early in that year stunted his progress. He has continued to struggle this year. He has a good arm and adequate mobility. The one thing he does too often is allow his mechanics break down under pressure. He gets "happy feet". This week, expect Rutgers to get a dose of both QBs as the Huskies will try to find someone who can move the ball effectively against this swarming Rutgers defense.

RB - UConn carries some quality RBs. Terry Caulley, Lou Allen, and Donald Brown are all strong, instinctual runners that can make plays. Caulley is small, but very speedy and explosive. He is their leading rusher. Lou Allen is a big back with agility at 235 pounds. He leads the RBs with 4 TDs on the season. Donald Brown, the NJ native, has shown good burst. These three are reliable football players. At FB Deon Anderson is a load. He can block, occasionally is used as a runner and can pick up yardage, and is a threat as a receiver out of the back-field. On the year, these 4 have run for over 1100 yards. If it were not for the struggles to other aspects of the offense, this unit would have had more success on the ground.

WR/TE- This unit has talent and upside, but they are extremely young. Jr. Larry Taylor is a diminutive guy that is extremely explosive and has plenty of shake. He is a threat every time he has the ball in his hands. Rutgers must also watch out for him in the Special Teams game. Fr Brad Kanuch has decent size and blazing speed. He was one of the fastest recruits coming out of the Northeast last year. While Kanuch has made some plays and shown sparks, he is still a freshman. The same goes for Fr Terrence Jeffers. While Jeffers does not have the speed that Kanuch does, he has a great body and has shown promise. Upperclassman Brandon Young will also be in the mix. Young leads the team with receiving yards with 205 yards. TE Steve Brouse is 4th on the team in receptions.

OL - This will determine the success, or lack there of, that UConn will have offensively. They start three Freshman in tackles Dan Ryan and Mike Hicks, and center Alex LaMagdelaine. Ryan and Hicks are very large young men measuring 6'8" and 6'7" respectively, but they will have trouble matching up with the speed of the RU defensive ends. So Emmanuel Hutchinson got some playing time last year at Guard. The other Guard position is played by Sr Matt Applebaum, a converted DL. Edsall is going to have to be creative to neutralize the speed of the Rutgers front seven. UConn must avoid negative plays and keep their offense out of 3rd and long situations. Expect RU to stunt and mix blitz packages to try to confuse the Huskies offense and make plays defensively. RU needs to take advantage of this mismatch in order to control the field position battle.

DL - DE Dan Davis and DT Rhema Fuller are the heart soul of this line. These two must be accounted for at all times. Both play with high intensity all the time. Fuller is the captain of this defense and has been a 3-year starter. Sr. DT Ray Blagman is a 330 lb. piece of mass and he is proficient at taking up space. He has played well against the run. DE Cody Brown had started the first six games of the year and led the team in sacks. An injury has forced him out of the line-up and has been replaced with Fr. Lindsey Witten. Witten is a tall, lanky DE with fine athleticism. He has a good first step and has been constantly in the back field. But at 223 lbs, will he have the strength to make an impact vs. RU's 2 All Big-East level offensive tackles? Beyond the starting front-4, the depth is lacking. It is foreseeable that the RU OL will wear this unit down as the game progresses.

LB - All 3 are Jrs. All three are talented players. Donta Moore is a hybrid safety/LB from Florida. He has good speed and plays with swagger. He plays the "Husky" LB, which is similar to a Rover position. He is tied for 2nd in tackles with Ryan Henegan. Danny Lansanah and Ryan Hennegan are big, physical, instinctual players. Lansanah leads the team in tackles. This unit has played effectively, but like the DL, they lack depth.

Secondary - The secondary has some high-quality football players. Their best cover corner is Darius Butler. He is a threat to make plays defensively and has made 4 Int. on the season. Tyvon Branch has given the Huskies worthy play on the opposite CB spot and is 4th on the team in tackles. But it is not a good sign when one of your top tacklers is a CB. The safeties are Sr. MJ Estep and So. Dahna Deleston.

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