UConn – Navy
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Spread: NAV -4
M/L: NAV -185, UCONN +160
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
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UConn prevailed in week 1, defeating Maine 24-21 on a 37-yard field goal by Bobby Puyol with 11 seconds to go in the game.
The UConn Huskies have some issues to address when it comes to moving the football and scoring. Last season, the Huskies managed to make a Bowl appearance, but they fell to Marshall and the season’s theme of not being able to score reared its ugly head in the season’s final game.
The Huskies scored less than 10 points four times last season, and two of its losses were by less than a TD.
Turning it around begins with QB Bryant Shirreffs. He completed 168 of 279 last year for 2,078 yards, but he had eight INTs with just nine TDs. Arkeel Newsmen and Ron Johnson were successful in the backfield and the duo combined for over 1,000 rushing yards.
In Week 1, Shirreffs had a solid game, throwing 16 of 23 for 162 yards, averaging 7.0 yards per attempt. He also rushed for 95 yards on 20 carries, including a long run of 35 yards. The Huskies gained 200 yards on the ground, with Ron Johnson and Arkeel Newsmen contributing 105 yards on 30 combined carries.
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Johnson had a pair of TDs and Newsome had a TD jaunt, as well. Noel Thomas led the receivers with nine catches for 70 yards, as the Huskies accumulated 162 passing yards. Newsome also returned three kicks for 52 total yards, averaging 17.3 yards per return. Punter Justin Wain averaged 42.6 yards per punt on five attempts with a long of 51-yards. UConn outscored Maine 17-14 after being knotted 7-all at the half.
Navy blistered Fordham 52-16 in its opener. The Midshipmen in typical fashion rushed 53 times for 427 yards, with six rushing TDs and an average of 8.1 yards per attempt. Chris High led the way with 176 yards on 10 carries and two of the Midshipmen TDs. Tago Smith threw one pass for 45 yards and rushed for 97 yards and two TDs. The Midshipmen threw just four passes, but completed all of them. But that is how Navy operates, and it is an attack that rendered the program nationally ranked in 2015.
Navy put together an outstanding 2015 season when it finished 11-2 on the strength of Keenan Reynolds’ final NCAA season. The four-year starter set NCAA records and propelled Navy to elite status in the AAC, but now the Midshipmen will have to rebuild without its do-it-all QB.
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Tago Smith will take over the reigns of the triple-threat offense, and a lot of people think Smith can pick up where Reynolds left off. That is a pretty tall order, but all indications thus far is that he is up to the task. Sure, it was one game against a poor opponent, but Smith made big plays every time he got his hands on the football.
Smith’s aggression and confidence are equally as instrumental as his physical gifts, and getting off to a good start in 2016 should prove huge for the Midshipmen.
Navy had a sensational 2015, and it is unlikely they reproduce that level of success with Reynolds’ career finished. Teams are anticipating the strength of Navy this season, so there will be no surprising opponents, even if the talent level has decreased some.
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