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11 Up, Ummmm... 10 Down? UConn

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There’s a fair amount of panic about this game, but this isn’t 2007, and this isn’t your father’s UConn. Not yet, anyway.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

There was a lot of scoffing and rolling of eyes when UConn decided to bring back Randy Edsall as head coach following his embattled tenure at Maryland. Like, Really, UConn? That’s all you want to be? Where’s the ambition?

I guess it’s kind of a white flag, but what do you expect the Huskies to do? It’s a hard place to win. They’re not in a power conference, there aren’t many good high school players in New England, and football might be the school’s third most popular sport. UConn is not a place where you can go 11-1 in football. If Edsall did about as well as you can do there the first time around, is it such a bad idea to have him back?

(NOTE: This was originally going to be Collin’s preview, and let’s just say he doesn’t agree with this take at all. I have spared you 500 words of Randy Edsall slander by pinch hitting here.)

I imagine Edsall will make UConn competent again eventually. Eventually, as in not this year. I know a lot of USF fans are stroking out because the Bulls just lost their first game of the year, and oh god now we have to go to UConn just like 2007!

Stop that. Stop that right now. That 2007 UConn team was pretty good. This one isn’t.

Let’s hit the numbers.

Peripherals

Team S&P+ (Overall) S&P+ (USF O vs. UConn D) S&P+ (UConn O vs. USF D) S&P+ (ST)
USF 27 31 42 64
UConn 119 53 127 99
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I’m thinking USF’s numbers are wrong. The numbers from the Houston game may have been factored into the rankings twice, and it seems like the Bulls would have had better than a 4% chance of beating the Cougars based on how they played. Also for some reason their record is listed as 7-2 on their statistical profile page, and the UConn game is missing.

Anyway, the big problem with UConn is their abysmal defense. They lost to ECU and have given up 49 or more points three times, including 70 to Memphis. They’re especially bad against the pass, but they’re still bad against the run, too.

When UConn Runs...

Team Rushing Success Rate Run Explosiveness Stuff Rate
UConn Offense 116 86 117
USF Defense 6 108 2

The Huskies are missing Arkeel Newsome, and that has basically killed their running game. UConn is leaning on Kevin Mensah and Nate Hopkins, a pair of freshmen, as well as quarterback Bryant Shirreffs. Even with Newsome healthy, though, they can’t open up holes. They’re 129th in Adjusted Line Yards, 112th in Power Success Rate, and 117th in Stuff Rate. It’s a very good matchup for USF, who excels at the line of scrimmage against the run.

When UConn Passes...

Team Passing S&P+ Passing Success Rate Pass Explosiveness
UConn Offense 92 37 30
USF Defense 21 3 47

Shirreffs throwing the ball is by far the best part of UConn’s offense. In fact, they’re actually kind of explosive. Shirreffs has topped 300 passing yards four times this season, and he’s gone over 400 yards twice. Part of that is having to try and keep up with opposing teams scoring at will, but let’s admit he’s actually a pretty good passer and USF may have its hands full on Saturday. He has taken 23 sacks, though.

Hergy Mayala is coming off back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. Freshmen Quayvon Skanes and Keyion Dixon are also firmly in the rotation for the Huskies.

When USF Runs...

Team Rushing Success Rate Run Explosiveness Stuff Rate
USF Offense 65 34 80
UConn Defense 87 72 99

Hi, I wasn’t around for the videos or pods this week and I’d like to weigh in on Sterlin Gilbert. He’s really bad! We thought maybe he wasn’t really this bad, and eventually he’d rather do things that work instead of making everyone do things his way, but no! His plays are dull and he’s stubborn as hell! He goes fast for the sake of going fast! Everyone knows what he’s going to do! He doesn’t adjust! He’s wasting a crazy talented set of players! He might be the most hated USF coach ever, and that includes Skip!

It’s not going to matter this week. UConn’s run defense is an eyesore.

When USF Passes...

Team Passing S&P+ Passing Success Rate Pass Explosiveness
USF Offense 119 101 9
UConn Defense 114 123 39

Oh, and Sterlin is asking Quinton Flowers to make a bunch of throws he cannot or should not make! He took all the screens and bubbles and formations that worked real well last year and threw them all in the trash! I bet USF could absolutely crush this terrible pass defense if they tried any of that stuff! But they won’t, because Sterlin!

Summary and Prediction

Well, here’s the thing. We have to assume that from now on, Sterlin is going to keep stabbing his own team in the back. So I don’t think we can comfortably predict a USF win, no matter how much of a favorite they are (23.5 points, at last check). Still, UConn is pretty bad on both sides of the ball, and they’re really beat up. The Bulls will probably be fine. Probably.

USF 31, UConn 14