Thursday, September 11, 2008

game preview: Connecticut


History against the Huskies: 1-0

Last matchup: W, 17-16 (2007)

Team records: UVA 1-1 (0-0), UConn 2-0 (0-0)

Last week: UVA def. Richmond, 16-0; UConn def. Temple, 12-9

Line: Connecticut by 11

Connecticut season preview here

Conventional wisdom says big trouble for the 'Hoos this week. We squeaked out a victory last year, aided by a long field goal drive and some timely defense. In other words, a pretty typical win. Now we are without some of our best players from last year, the starting quarterback has never taken a snap in a college game (speaking of which, more on the Lalich situation here, which I would call a must-read), and oh yeah, it's on the road, where we typically do our very best Temple impression. UConn meanwhile has like 43 starters back. Doom and gloom.....and this is a football game at Connecticut, not hoops.


- Marc Verica must play well. Thank you, master of the obvious. The O-line has proven they can protect the quarterback at least long enough for a quarterback to quickly get through his progressions, or at least get off a good throw to the first receiver he sees, if he's open. They have not protected well enough for a quarterback to consistently get through his third read. Verica's adjustment to game tempo is gonna have to happen quickly. And for chrissake be accurate.

- Eugene Monroe and Will Barker need to have a hell of a game, because UConn's defensive ends, particularly Cody Brown, are holy terrors. They have combined for 6.5 sacks out of a total of 9 through the first two games.

- 8 men in the box, please. Tyler Lorenzen is an option quarterback. UConn is an option team. And RB Donald Brown has racked up 180 yards per game, over 6 yards per carry. Against option teams, the OLB's are particularly important. Stop the run game and make Lorenzen beat us with his arm. Even against Hofstra, on a dry field and not in the dead middle of a tropical storm, Lorenzen was not particularly impressive, and in fact threw three picks. To beat UConn, clog up the run game.

- Pick on Jasper Howard. Kevin Ogletree will almost certainly be assigned to Darius Butler, who is probably UConn's best athlete. I said earlier we need the other receivers to step up to the plate, and they have been doing a decent job. Line up two receivers - Koch and Green, say - opposite Ogletree, keep them away from Butler, and let 6'2" Green abuse 5'7" Howard. It'll make Verica's job a lot easier if he can take advantage of the seven inch height difference.

- In the run game, slam it up the middle. Peerman's off to a great start, and the strength of the UConn defensive line is the ends. Running off tackle with Simpson may prove difficult. Go up the gut. Get a fullback out there and do some old-school Big Ten stuff.


- Fail to respect the run game. You know it's coming. It's what they do. The D-line did a great job last week, but UConn's line is bigger and stronger than Richmond's. Their receivers are nothing special - if the linebackers are slow to react to the option because they're too worried about pass coverage, game over.

- Too much fancy passing too early. Verica's got to get in his rhythm. Gotta start him with the easy stuff. If the first call is for him to have to throw a precision out route or something, we will not like the outcome. Give him a wide receiver screen or a couple of curl routes, and if the very first play is not a run, slapping Mike Groh is authorized.

- Simply getting beat on the defensive line. As usual. If the D-line is overwhelmed, the linebackers are not fast enough to cover for them all the time.


Last year's game was a defensive struggle. This will certainly be a low-scoring affair on our side - anything more than 20 points will be a bonus - so the defense MUST make it the same for them, too. Don't expect Verica to be a world-beater. Don't expect Lorenzen to be one either - the game will hinge on the running backs, Peerman and Brown. Whichever one does a better job of keeping his defense off the field will probably emerge victorious.

QUOTABLE: “It's not about any one particular thing. [Sitting Lalich] just seemed like the appropriate thing to do at this time. There's no hidden statement about what we feel about any alleged or reported incidents or any date coming up or what not. It's just the whole thing has taken on legs; we decided to cut the legs off it." - Groh.


North Carolina @ Rutgers, going on right now.
Maryland vs. California, 12:00
Duke vs. Navy, 12:00
NC State @ Clemson, 12:00
Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech, 3:30
Florida State vs. Chattanooga, 3:45
BC, Wake, Miami off

**Programming note: Tomorrow morning, I'm hopping a plane for home. Why people pick fall Saturdays for weddings, I have no idea, but I'm going to one. This was supposed to be the game I got to go to this year, but no dice. I'll have my laptop with me, so posts between now and late Monday night when I return are somewhere between possible and likely.

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