Two Huskies Honored

Judging from a small sampling of comments made on social media, Big East football fans gained some satisfaction Saturday when conference teams went 3-0 against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Connecticut won at Maryland, 24-21. Pittsburgh stunned West Virginia, 35-17. And Louisville knocked off North Carolina 39-34.

None of that stops Syracuse and Pittsburgh from leaving the Big East to join the ACC next year. And the Big East victories won't reverse the process announced at Notre Dame last week. The Irish are headed to the ACC for all sports except football as well.

But making a statement or two on the field always brings a feeling of accomplishment. And the Big East honored two UConn players Monday for their accomplishments against Maryland.

Linebacker Yawin Smallwood was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week. Wide receiver Nick Williams was named Special Teams Player of the Week. As the old saying goes, two out of three ain't bad. The only Big East award not claimed by a UConn player was Offensive Player of the Week, which went to Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri.

Of course, Williams sparked UConn's win with a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter. But he also had 112 all-purposed yards. He had 52 yards on two kickoff returns.

"Nick's early punt return Saturday certainly was a big spark and a big, big lift for the team," UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said Monday. "It was a great effort on Nick's part. And Yawin has played pretty consistently all three games."

What can you say about Smallwood? The sophomore from Worcester, Mass., is off to a sensational start. This is the second time in three weeks he has been named Big East Defensive Player of the Week. Smallwood had a game-high 14 tackles – and that wasn't even close. He had five more tacles than other player in the game.

Smallwood added 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble that led to a UConn field goal. Smallwood leads all Football Bowl Subdivision players in tackles for loss (3.0 per game) and is eighth nationally in sacks (1.3 per game).

We will have a closer look at Smallwood later in the week. But for now, be assured people are starting to notice him. And by that we mean the right people. Read this story that highlights Smallwood and Dwayne Gratz as NFL draft risers here.

With Jesse Joseph out for the season, junior Tim Willman was listed with the first team on defense at defensive end on Monday. Joseph tore his Achilles tendon Saturday at Maryland.

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