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Bulls Recon: Talking Huskies Football With Aman Kidwai From The UConn Blog

The editor of the least-creatively named website on SB Nation joins us to talk the cloud of dust and punting that is UConn & Bob Diaco.

Connecticut v Houston Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

UConn may have a fake rivalry with C.Florida in the Civil ConFLiCT, but on the internet there’s a Florida school they love much more, and that’s us. From the days with the guys @NoEscalators to now Aman and his crew the @TheUConnBlog, the Huskies have a long history of great basketball, bad football, and fantastic blogging. Our ties with them go back so far we at one point named a blog after a play against them.

Many times when we do these question exchanges it’s with people we actually haven’t met in real life, but Aman and I actually know each other. So when I say things like “how’s all those women’s basketball championships that working out in conference realignment?” and make snarky passive-aggressive remarks all over this post, he knows I’m kidding. Allegedly. You can watch me do it live on video in a podcast we both did last week with our friends from Cincinnati and Tulane too.

I look forward to making my crutch-jokes about rural Connecticut, their terrible weather and football recruiting, and octogenarians losing their children’s inheritances at slot machines while waiting to get into the AAC women’s basketball tournament at Mohegan Sun when I get his questions.

But for real: Aman is a good dude, and they do great work over there. Go read them not just this week but year-round.

After being left for dead (at least by us), UConn got a big win last week over Cincinnati. Rushing yards: Huskies 188, Bearcats 2. Arkeel Newsome 14 carries, 117 yards (though 67 on one play). Is it possible your team is starting to turn the corner, or did you just catch a UC team that's quit on Tommy Tuberville?

Cincinnati is not very good, but UConn deserves credit for the defensive lockdown in the red zone in the first half and overall in the second half, against a team that has been able to put up points.

Offensively, the line played its best game of the year. Whether that was due to Cinci's defense being bad or the return of a starter to the lineup for UConn remains to be seen.

Is Diaco's clock and game management always awful, or just that masterpiece of stupid one time against Navy?

There have been some minor gaffes, but he's no Andy Reid. Don't listen to everything you hear on Twitter.


Do you expect UConn to run the ball with Newsome to the outside for the whole game?

I never know what to expect with UConn's attempts at offensive production, but no I don't think Newsome will see some disproportionate amount of touches, or that all of his touches will be outside runs. We'll swing it out to him as well and last year they liked him a lot in the screen game but haven't gone to that well yet this season.

We'll see carries for power back Ron Johnson and quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and then healthy doses of Noel Thomas in the passing game. Ideally, we get some others involved too, but so far UConn has not proven up to the task of getting other pass-catching playmakers involved.

Bryant Shirreffs is the LeBron James to my Skip Bayless. I've killed him for not being good for years now, but he had a nice game last week (18-33, 224 yards, 2 TD's). Is he actually getting better, or was that a blip?

I don't know if he's getting markedly better, but he is better than you give him credit for. He had a very strong game against Navy in the air, breaking a school record for completion percentage, and had some good outings last year. As long as the coaching staff has him playing within his abilities, and keeps the strategy less predictable, the offense seems to run fairly well under him. Sometimes, he just doesn't get enough help from the line or the coaching staff to be at his best. He also is very inaccurate on deep throws.

How good is Noel Thomas, and is there anyone else out there that can help keep him from getting double-teamed all game?

Noel Thomas is very good, and we knew as much last year when he caught just about everything thrown his way. Last season ended with a zero-catch performance for Thomas in the bowl game but since then he has been consistently producing in every game this season and I credit that to the coaching staff for working to get him the ball a lot.

There are other players who are worthwhile, including Tyraiq Beals, who had a 59-yard TD reception against Cincinnati, and our trio of tight ends, Tyler Davis, Tommy Myers, and Alec Bloom. The tight ends have been more involved in blocking lately, but they have too much to offer as pass-catchers to not be more involved at some point.

Diaco called playing USF "a spectacular challenge" this week. What specifically terrifies you about playing a very talented offense in USF?

A legitimate dual-threat quarterback along with a dynamic running back who has played very well against UConn in the past. The problem is that even if you can stop those two, wide receiver Rodney Adams will be facing a secondary that is, at best, as good as last year's.

The speed of the Bulls offense, and what could become of UConn's defender's energy level if some fast-paced, multi-play touchdown drives are separated by three-and-outs from the Husky offense is probably scariest though.

Your defense held UC to two (2) rushing yards last week. That won't happen with Marlon Mack & Quinton Flowers, but what's a reasonable goal for the Huskies defensively to stay in it? And what's their best unit & player on D?

I'd say keeping those two under 200 total would be a win.

Best unit is a close one between the line and the linebackers, and in a 3-4 those lines are blurred anyway so I'm going to cheat and say both. There are a lot of good players on the defense, but I'll go with cheat here as well and go with two: Foley Fatukasi (5-technique DT) and LB/DE Luke Carrezola.

Prediction? Besides pain and lots of women's basketball comebacks from your fans on Twitter.

I think UConn keeps it closer than you think but ultimately falls in the fourth quarter. For all the jokes we have made about this series and how ugly the games have been, last year's game was pretty entertaining! I'm imagining the same Saturday, with a similar result, 31-23.