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12 Up, 12 Down: UConn Huskies

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Oh, UConn is TRASH trash.

NCAA Football: Connecticut at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: UConn Huskies

2018 Record: 1-5, 0-3 AAC

Head Coach: Randy Edsall, Second Stint, 14th Season Overall (78-84)

Date/Time/Location: Saturday, October 20, 7 p.m., Raymond James Stadium

How To Watch/Listen: CBS Sports Network (Jason Horowitz PxP, David Diehl Analyst), 820 AM, Bulls Unlimited, iHeartRadio

Series History: USF leads 10-5. USF beat UConn 37-20 last year in Storrs. USF has won six consecutive games against the Huskies.

It’s homecoming for USF. They are 12-9 all-time on homecoming and have won three straight.

Background

After narrowly avoiding disaster a week ago at Tulsa, the #21/20 Bulls set their sights on their worst opponent of the season. The Huskies have been brutal in 2018 on both sides of the ball. Randy Edsall’s coming home party has been a nightmare through 18 games. UConn was 3-9 in 2017 and have regressed even further in this year.

(All advanced stats are courtesy of SB Nation’s Bill Connelly. Check out the glossary here. And for full 2018 statistical profiles, click here)

USF/UConn

Team S&P+ (Overall) S&P+ (USF O vs. UConn D) S&P+ (USF D vs. UConn O) S&P+ ST
Team S&P+ (Overall) S&P+ (USF O vs. UConn D) S&P+ (USF D vs. UConn O) S&P+ ST
USF 41 36 44 102
UConn 130 130 81 107
USF/UConn S&P Overall

S&P has UConn ranked as the worst team in all of college football at 130th. Outside of senior quarterback David Pindell, there is no talent on this roster. Pindell has been dealing with an injury, but after UConn had a bye last week, USF coaches anticipate him being at full strength. The Huskies’ defense has given up 44 touchdowns in just six games and opposing quarterbacks are completing 75% of their passes, and they’ve allowed an astounding 9.2 yards-per-play. They are historically bad on defense. Drop down to FCS already, my god.

When UConn Runs...

UConn Rushing Vs USF Defense

Team Rushing Efficiency Run Explosiveness Stuff Rate
Team Rushing Efficiency Run Explosiveness Stuff Rate
UConn Offense 98 60 116
USF Defense 87 53 35

The Huskies biggest running threat is Pindell (489 yards, 5.6 ypc, five TD). He is very mobile and will tuck it and run quickly when things break down (and they do often). We’ve seen running quarterbacks give USF trouble over the last two seasons and stopping Pindell—or at least limiting his effectiveness—will go a long way for the defense to prove that they are capable of stopping the likes of Houston’s D’Eriq King, Tulane’s Jonathan Banks, and C.’s McKenzie Milton.

Sophomore running back Kevin Mensah leads the team in carries with 102, but hasn’t done much with them, rushing for just 429 yards—144 of which came against Rhode Island.

When UConn Passes...

UConn Passing Offense

Team Passing Efficiency Passing Explosiveness Sack Rate
Team Passing Efficiency Passing Explosiveness Sack Rate
UConn Offense 82 90 73
USF Defense 18 20 15

As you can see from the table above, passing the ball is what UConn is “good” at this year. Only problem is, USF has about 15 defensive backs that could play and not really miss a beat as evidenced by Mazzi Wilkins and Mike Hampton not playing the entire first quarter last week against Tulsa. If the Bulls force UConn into obvious passing downs (second-and-eight or more, third-and-five or more), the Huskies will struggle the entire night. You’re going to see a lot of man-to-man with a spy on Pindell most of the night with a couple exotic blitzes thrown in.

When USF Runs...

USF Rushing Offense vs UConn Defense

Team Rushing Efficiency Run Explosiveness Stuff Rate
Team Rushing Efficiency Run Explosiveness Stuff Rate
USF Offense 30 21 44
UConn Defense 130 129 128

HOOOOOOOOOOOO BOOOOYYYYYYY.

Running back Jordan Cronkrite might double his season total for rushing yards in this game. The UConn rush defense allowed Memphis running back Darrell Henderson to explode for 174 (12.4 ypc) yards AND gave up another 163 yards to teammate Patrick Taylor two week ago. Henderson is the best back in the conference, Cronk is right behind him. The transfer from Florida has rushed for at least 100 yards in four consecutive games, which is one shy of the school record held by the GOAT Quinton Flowers (2016) and The Other GOAT Marlon Mack (2015). It’s still remains to be seen if Duran Bell and Elijah Mack are healthy enough to play, but true freshman Johnny Ford will get his yards on Saturday night, even Trevon Sands will get some run. The USF offensive line have been much better at running blocking than pass blocking this season, it will be critical for center Michael Wiggs to have a good game going against a poor defensive line. UConn does have 350-pound freshman nose tackle Travis Jones to eat up space.

When USF Passes...

USF Passing Offense vs UConn Defense

Team Passing Efficiency Passing Explosiveness Sack Rate
Team Passing Efficiency Passing Explosiveness Sack Rate
USF Offense 24 73 93
UConn Defense 130 105 98

USF connected on just two of their 17 throws that traveled 15 or more yards against Tulsa. Expect that number to be higher on Saturday. Quarterback Blake Barnett told reporters that he needed to give his receivers a better chance to come down with the deep ball. UConn is a good way to practice that. UConn’s two-deep in the secondary consists of five true freshmen and three sophomores. Bubble screens, tunnel screens, pump-n-go’s should be particularly effective against very young defensive backs.

The offensive line must be able to keep a clean pocket for Barnett to throw tomorrow if they want to have any chance or having success against better opponents later in the year.

Safety Tyler Coyle leads the team with 47 tackles, but has no TFL, sacks, interceptions or pass breakups.

Notes:

  • If center Michael Wiggs is going to get replaced by true freshman Brad Cecil, this is the week to do it. It would be unfair for Cecil to have his first career start be against the best defensive player in the country in Ed Oliver.
  • TE Mitchell Wilcox has caught 22 of his 28 targets (78.6%) this season for 311 yards. He had 29 targets total in 2017.
  • All five of Barnett’s interceptions this season have come in the first half.
  • Against FBS teams, USF has scored on just 8-of-33 first half possessions. In the second half, they have scored on 17-of-31.
  • Senior WR Tyre McCants has 15 career receiving touchdowns, just two shy of tying Andre Davis’ record of 17. McCants (1,625 yards) needs 24 more yards to move into third place for career receiving yards.

Prediction:

USF wins going away 65-14. UConn football just needs to go away.