2015 Connecticut Huskies Football Preview

Sophomore RB Ron Johnson will be the primary ball carrier.
Sophomore RB Ron Johnson will be the primary ball carrier.

Connecticut Huskies
Head coach: Bob Diaco
2014 Record: 2-10; 1-7 AAC
2014 Bowl: N/A
2015 Returning Starters: 4 offense, 7 defense

Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +990000
Odds to win 2015 AAC Title: +12500
Regular Season Wins: Over 3 (+105), Under 3 (-125)
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The UConn Huskies couldn’t get in the end zone last year, and improving on just 15.5 points per game is imperative if the team is going to exceed’s last year’s meager pair of wins.

Head coach Bob Diaco is looking for answers to remedy an offense that was barely good for two TDs a game last year. The Huskies brought in a new offensive coordinator in Frank Verducci who is going to seek to produce a physical, ball-controlling offense that can hardly be worse than last season’s effort.

At QB, the Huskies will go with sophomore Bryant Shirreffs, though junior Tim Boyle is in the mix (outcompeted in spring). Shirreffs sat out last year as a transfer from NC State and he’s a strong dual-threat QB whose running ability is a wildcard for the Huskies’ attack. He’s also the owner of an arm that can air it out.

It’d be surprising to see Boyle take that time from him, but the Huskies aren’t a good enough team to necessarily place any confidence in anyone until proven. Boyle has thrown just one TDs and 11 INTs, though, so it’s tough to imagine him turning that around dramatically. Tyler Davis (Freshman) and Garrett Anderson (JUCO) will also be in the mix.

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Sophomore RB Rob Johnson (pictured) will be the featured back after leading the team with 429 yards last season. He was good for just 3.8 yards per carry, however. Sophomore Akeel Newsome could be in for a major year, and he’s also a threat in flex plays for short passes.

The top two WR from last year are gone, but given how poor the team was maybe that isn’t that bad.

Noel Thomas could be a big play threat for the Huskies and he finished last year with 305 yards on 26 catches. Sophomore Thomas Lucas is strong and able to create separation, so he could be a threat. Dhameer Bradley is also a good slot receiver. The WR provide enough options that the Huskies could have a good pass game.

The OL was a huge problem last year and a big reason why the offense ranked 123rd in the country. Andreas Knappe is about as big as they come at 6’8” 310 pounds, and Richard Levy will also add some strength, but there’s a major improvement to be made if this offense is going to be as good as it can be. The OL has to be better, really.

The defense returns seven starters, including the top four tackles from last year. Diaco will use a 3-4 again, and senior LBs Marquise Vann and Graham Stewart are capable of getting stops. The pair combined for 199 tackles last year and Stewart had 10.5 tackles for loss.

The secondary is also very good, with Andrew Adams returning at FS (96 tackles, 4 INTs) along with S Obi Melinfonwu. CBs Jhavon Williams and Jamar Summers are both expected to be very good and the Huskies will likely be okay despite losing Byron Jones to the NFL. The DL also returns its standout Julian Campenni, while sophomore DE Folorunso Fatukasi is primed for a breakout year.

Bobby Puyol hit 9 of 14 FG last year, but he’ll be challenged by freshman Michael Tarbutt. Justin Wain was good for 38.8 yards per punt last year, while landing 17 within the 20. The returns will be handled by Arkeel Newsome, and that could be a major strength. He’ll be pushing himself handling both punts and kicks, but is a top AAC returner at both.

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Last year’s 2-10 record was UConn’s worst season in its 11-year run as an FBS school. The Huskies will be better, though. The team hasn’t made a bowl appearance in four seasons, however with a difficult non-conference schedule it will be really tough to do that this year, too. The Huskies face BYU, Mizzou in non-conference play and UCF and Cincy in AAC play.

Defensively the team will be reasonably good, but it’s going to take some kind of turnaround on the offensive end of the ball to do much more than piddle along at the bottom of the AAC. 5dimes oddsmakers set the O/U at ‘3’ wins, which is pretty reasonable.

However, given the difficulty of the schedule and the fact that the team is coming off such a colossally poor season, it’s safe to expect the under if betting an O/U. Even so, we’re rolling with three wins this season for UConn.

Prediction: 3 wins

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