UConn - Buffalo Football Preview

Buffalo is coming to town. The Bulls are the Husky basketball teams' opponent this Friday (women) and Saturday (men) nights as each opens the 2004-05 season. That leaves Sat. afternoon and that's when the two schools will face off on the football field.

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CONNECTICUT
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INSIDE SLANT

The Huskies, who have lost three times on the road this season, will return home to Rentschler Field on Saturday for a matchup with Buffalo (2-8). Three of Connecticut's four defeats this season occurred away from home.

The Huskies (5-4) have dropped two straight games, including Saturday's 30-10 loss at Georgia Tech. Quarterback Dan Orlovsky passed for 205 yards and receiver Keron Henry reeled in six receptions for 65 yards, but Connecticut was issued a second consecutive defeat for the first time since October of 2002.

Tailback Cornell Brockington, the Big East's leading rusher (104.1 ypg.), managed just 43 yards on 18 carries. The Yellow Jackets took a 20-3 halftime lead and never looked back.

"I thought our defense played well throughout the game," Huskies coach Randy Edsall said. "But we weren't able to get the offense moving because of the Georgia Tech defense, which was the best we've faced all year."

The good news is Connecticut needs just one win to become bowl eligible for the first time in school history. Following the Buffalo game, the Huskies have just four days to prepare for a conference battle against Rutgers (4-5) on Thanksgiving.

"I'm not a real big fan of (the schedule), to tell you the truth," Edsall said. "The exposure is nice, but it hinders the kids in terms of academics and how you have to prepare. We've been through this when we have a Saturday game and play again on Thursday. Fortunately, we have experience with it."

NOTES, QUOTES

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
Senior QB Dan Orlovsky is the Big East's second-ranked passer (285.3 ypg.), while RB Cornell Brockington is its top-ranked rusher (104.1 ypg.). Orlovsky has thrown for 17 touchdowns against 12 interceptions in nine games. The Huskies are averaging 28.2 points per game, third in the conference behind West Virginia and Pittsburgh.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
The Huskies own the league's third-ranked scoring (23.9 ppg.) and total (344.2 ypg.) defense. Alfred Fincher and Maurice Lloyd, both senior linebackers, have recorded 109 and 83 tackles, respectively.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Our kids are looking forward to going out and practicing and sending our seniors out in a special way. These are the guys who were the foundation, the architects. We need to send them off the right way." -- Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, on finishing the season in strong fashion for his senior class.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME
-- The Huskies are coming off a 30-10 loss at Georgia Tech on Saturday, but should get healthy in this game. Connecticut handed Buffalo a 38-8 loss in 2003.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Dan Orlovsky -- The senior completed 28 of 49 passes for 205 yards against Georgia Tech, but failed to throw for a touchdown. Orlovsky has passed for 12 scores against seven interceptions.

PK Matt Nuzie -- The sophomore has connected on 14 of 19 field goal attempts, with a long of 51.

ROSTER REPORT
DE Tyler King (broken leg) is out indefinitely.

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BUFFALO
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INSIDE SLANT

Buffalo coach Jim Hofher was proud of his team after their 36-6 win over Central Michigan last week. But Hofher's pride had nothing to do with the numbers on the scoreboard.

It had to do with his team's heart and desire on the field just a week after getting shellacked, 33-7 by Kent State.

The fact that his team was able to bounce back and put the devastating loss behind it made Hofher as happy as he could be. And he sees it as a building block for the future.

"If there was any progress, maybe it was -- besides the victory -- maybe it was the mental part of it, of once again having guys challenge themselves to fight back and bounce back," Hofher said. "That's all part of it, whether its an established program, in my opinion, or one that's less established like ours, although we're getting a little bit more established as each year goes by. That's part of it.

"Nobody is simply going to be able to go 11 or 12 games on an emotional high the whole time. ... We were able to bounce back and play with grit and play very hard, and in Saturday's case, play productively against a very proud and tradition-rich MAC program."

With the victory, Buffalo won two games in a season for the first time in three years, and the Bulls can add to that total this week when they visit Connecticut in the season finale.

NOTES, QUOTES

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE
Quarterback P.J. Piskorik showed a different side to his game last week, running for 85 yards and a touchdown. But Piskorik needs to be comfortable in the pocket and not running with abandon for the Bulls to ultimately be successful. Establishing the run against Connecticut will be a big task.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE
The Bulls have had a solid defense all season long, but Connecticut will test Buffalo through the air. The Huskies average 287.6 yards passing a game, so Buffalo will need to get some pressure on quarterback Dan Orlovsky or he'll pick apart the secondary all day long.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Connecticut has been chronicled over the past two years as a tremendous success story of a transition program from I-AA to I-A football. They've done a tremendous job. A nine-win season a year ago. Elevated a year ahead of their original schedule to move into the Big East. I think they've had very good success in their first full year in the Big East." -- Buffalo head coach Jim Hofher on the Bulls' final opponent of the season, Connecticut.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME
-- The Bulls are coming off a big win over Central Michigan and can reach three wins on the season with a victory over the Huskies. UConn, meanwhile, is looking to clinch a winning record on the season. The Huskies have a high-powered offense and a tough defense, which means Buffalo is going to have to raise its game to compete with the Big East school.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Buffalo QB P.J. Piskorik -- The junior played great in the win over Central Michigan, rushing for 85 yards and passing for 122. Piskorik can't make any mistakes against the Huskies and he needs to keep the Bulls' offense moving to keep UConn's offense off the field.

Connecticut QB Dan Orlovsky -- The senior has passed for 2,568 yards and 17 touchdowns this year, but he's also thrown 12 interceptions. If the Bulls can fluster Orlovsky into an early turnover, it could be a big break.

ROSTER REPORT
Buffalo will be looking at the future in this contest, although coach Jim Hofher would also like to get another victory. The young players on the Bulls will see the field, just not as much as they might like in a season finale.


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