Scouting Report: Connecticut

The Connecticut Huskies were led by three different quarterbacks on offense, each of which had significant snaps against Fordham in their opener which was delayed due to Hurricane Irene. The loss of two preparation days may prove very beneficial for Vanderbilt.

Connecticut racked up 434 total yards of offense in a very balanced attack, passing for 228 and rushing for 206.

Like Vanderbilt, the Huskies have a new coach leading the team in Paul Pasqualoni who is looking to become the overall win leader in Big East history. UConn's opening day 35-3 win over Fordham tied Pasqualoni with former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer with 108 total wins in the conference.

The Commodore-Huskie matchup will also be a battle between former Maryland coordinators. Franklin ran the offensive side of the ball for the Terrapins during the same tenure Don Brown was working as defensive coordinator there. Connecticut hired Brown to run their defense on February, 4, 2011.

Junior Johnny McEntee looks to be in Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni's favor when it comes to throwing the ball. McEntee led the Huskies in passing attempts completing 8-of-12 for 113 yards, while never reaching the end zone.

Redshirt freshmen Scott McCummings runs the wildcat offense and had one pass attempt which turned out to be the Huskies only passing touchdown of the game, a 55-yarder to tight end Ryan Griffin. McCummings also ran for 23 yards on 7 carries. True Freshmen Michael Nebrich was 3-of-8 for 60 yards and had the only interception of the night.

Pasqualoni has stated that the quarterback competition would continue until the winner is clear. The Huskies were 4-for-4 with touchdowns in each red zone appearance. They also ran numerous offensive sets productively using misdirection to help Lyle McCombs find running room.

Senior Gary Bardzak anchors the offensive line at left guard. Bardzak paved the way for McCombs to have the outstanding day that he did. McCombs got the starting snaps in the opener; he ran for 141 yards and 4 TD's on 24 carries and a 5.9 carry average. He has great vision and explosiveness that punished Fordham for missing assignments. Tailback D.J. Shoemate has been held out with an ankle injury and should be back in the mix in time for the matchup in Nashville.

In special teams play Nick Williams is a dangerous threat to break big returns; he led the country in kickoff returns in 2010 and switched to returning punts in the opener against Fordham. He was an All-Big East First Team selection in 2010 averaging 35.3 average per kick return. He returned two kicks for touchdowns and Commodore fans may remember his 54-yard return against Vandy last year.

Receiver Kashif Moore, a track star who was part of the Huskies 2010-11 Big East Championship team, was the second leading Huskie receiver in 2010. Moore caught one ball for 25 yards in the opener but, possesses the speed to make big catches downfield.

Tight End Ryan Griffin led UConn in receiving in the opener with 3 receptions for 97 yards and the Huskies lone receiving touchdown of the game. He was named to the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award and is one of the most experienced offensive playmakers on the Huskies.

The Huskies defense allowed just 20 yards on the ground holding Fordham to just 0.7 yards per carry. The Connecticut secondary gave up 149 yards in the air, keeping Fordham to 5.7 yards per pass attempt.

Connecticut has a monster linebacker in Sio Moore. Moore was two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Week. Starting nine games for the Huskies in 2010, he was second on the team with 110 tackles and 11.5 tackles for losses. Moore also had a deflection in the opener that led to UConn's only interception by redshirt Freshmen Byron Jones. He has a nose for the ball and much like Chris Marve is the leader on Vanderbilt's defense.

The Huskies possess a strong set of defensive ends in Ted Jennings and Trevardo Williams. Jennings had a great opener with 8 tackles, 2.5 of which were for losses. Stopping the 6-5 end will be a priority to get the Commodore run game going. The other end Williams broke up a pass and had the Huskies sole sack of the night. Redshirt junior Jory Johnson led the team in tackles with 11 against Fordham. Johnson saw limited action in 2010 assisting on special teams with one interception in reserve duty but, stepped up to his new role with great poise in the opener.


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