Know Your Opponent: Connecticut Huskies

Tomorrow at Noon on ESPN, UC welcomes the Connecticut Huskies. The final home game for the UC seniors is also the last game of the regular season. Even though South Florida played like a bunch of bums and blew a 7 point lead, blew a crucial 3rd down stop with a stupid, stupid, stupid, really fucking stupid, hands to the face penalty, had a costly fumble deep in WV territory and blew coverage on the best receiver in the Big East on a 4th down that would have sent the game into overtime, UC still has a chance to win a piece of the Big East title. At the end of the day, that’s what matters. A win by Cincinnati throws West Virginia into the Orange Bowl. A win by Connecticut puts them in a bowl, and it also puts Louisville in the Orange Bowl. Some of the UC players were pretty disappointed on twitter about the game last night. It’s gotta be hard to have your BCS bowl hopes dashed by teams gagging away leads in back to back weeks against one of your biggest rivals. Especially when you gagged away a chance to beat that team as well. At least it’s senior day, which should have the guys pumped up and ready to go. Let’s hope they are at least. 

bearcatRecord: 8-3, 4-2
Coach: Butch Jones 12-11, 0-1 vs UConn
Series: UC 5-2
In Cincinnati: 4-0

QB:  Munchie Leguax looks to get the start for the 3rd straight game. He has hit 40-81-532-2 TDs-2 INTs on the season. He’s rushed for 157 yards, which is 3rd on the team. He clearly looks to be the passing QB for the offense. He had a much better game against Syracuse than he did against Rutgers. That was largely because he threw a lot of short passes, and a lot of passes to Isaiah Pead. Legaux went deep a few times in that game, but came up empty. Would like to see him hit something deep. Jordan Luallen will also see time. He was explosive out of the LuallenCat last week. He’s run for 135 yards and a TD this season. He’s only thrown 4 passes, hitting 2, for 10 yards. He did take a shot deep last week, but was incomplete. It would be nice if Luallen could replicate what he did last week. I don’t know how likely that is of happening, but a boy can dream. These guys need to not turn the ball over, and keep the offense moving. That’s the priority. 

RB: Isaiah Pead went over 1,000 yards last week against Syracuse, now at 1,042. He’s rushed for 11 TDs. Pead was a major threat catching the ball last week with 9 grabs. Pead has 33-305-3 TDs as a pass catcher. That ties him for the team lead in receiving TDs. He’s got the second longest catch for the Bearcats. Obviously, UConn is going to try to take Pead out of the game. Syracuse tried pretty hard last week, but the coaches found different ways of getting Pead the ball in space. I expect a repeat of that game plan. And for Pead to go out with a bang. 

WR: Kenbrell Thompkins leads the Bearcats in receptions and yards, with 44-536. He’s hauled in a pair of TD passes. Anthony McClung has 40-533-3 TDs. DJ Woods has 36-438-2 TDs. The trio hasn’t caught a TD pass since DJ’s in the first half of the Louisville game. McClung hasn’t scored since the second game of the season. A UC receiver hasn’t caught a TD pass since Alex Chisum (17-268-1TD) caught his against USF. That’s a long time. Most of the TD catches go to the tight ends. Travis Kelce has 2, Adrien Robinson 3. We keep waiting and waiting and waiting for the receivers to break out, and now the season is almost over. 

OL: The group of Alex Hoffman, Randy Martinez, Evan Davis, Austen  Bujnoch and Eric Lefeld or Sean Hooey stays in tact for another week. They have helped power UC to 4.8 yards a carry this season, and 181.6 yards a game on the ground. UC has given up only 16 sacks this season. UC is averaging 4.3 yards a rush in Big East play. They’ve only given up 11 sacks, which is tied for the fewest in the league. They are a solid unit. If they have a bad half, like the first half against Syracuse, they bounce back in the second. They get the job done. 

DL: Derek Wolfe leads the UC line in tackles with 54. He’s made a team best 14.5 tackles for loss. He’s got a team high 7 sacks. He is tied for the team lead with 6 QB hurries. He’s having a hell of a season. Big John Hughes is second in tackles for the line. He’s made 39. 8.5 of them for loss. He’s got 4 sacks on the season. He’s been playing well lately. Playing well lately also goes for Walter Stewart. The junior has 39 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks. Stewart leads the team with 3 forced fumbles. He’s broken up 7 passes, which is tied for the team lead. He’s got 4 hurries. He’s killed it in Big East play. Jordan Stepp has 32 tackles as part of the line rotation. Dan Giordano has 8.5 TFL and 5 sacks, which is second on the team. Brandon Mills has 5.5 TFL, and 4 sacks. 

LB: JK Schaffer leads the Bearcats with 94 tackles. He’s made 11 of them for loss, which is second on the team. He’s got 3.5 sacks. He’s tied for the team lead in INTs with 3. He is 3rd with 6 passes broken up. He’s forced 2 fumbles. He’s recovered 2 fumbles. Mr Schaffer is the man. Maalik Bomar has 51 tackles this season. He’s battled stingers the past 3 weeks, and hopefully that is straightened out. Bomar has 3 tackles for loss and 1 sack. He’s played well lately. Nick Temple is the 3rd man. He’s made 23 tackles, 2 for loss. 

DB: Drew Frey is second on the team in tackles with 63. He’s made 2.5 of them for loss. He’s picked off a pass. He’s broken up 6 passes from his safety spot. He has coverage issues still, but he’s stepping up. Wesley Richardson is playing his last home game. I don’t know how I missed him in the senior piece. I’ll add this now. Richardson spent his first two seasons on special teams. He made 9 tackles on the 2008 squad. In 2009, he got in the secondary some as well as staying on special teams. He made 21 tackles that season and forced a fumble. He moved into the starting lineup last year. He had 7 tackles against NC State. Richardson also recovered a pair of fumbles in that game. Richardson followed that up with a 6 tackle performance against OU. He had 7 stops against West Virginia, and 5 againstUConn. He picked off a pair of passes, 1 against West Virginia and 1 against Rutgers. This season, Richardson has started every game. he made 9 tackles against Tennessee. He had 6 stops against NC State. Richardson had 8 tackles against USF and 9 against Rutgers. Wes had 5 tackles and his first INT of the season last week against Syracuse. He’s not a coverage maven, but he works hard. He’s a solid player. Cam Cheatham leads the UC corners in tackles with 49. He’s picked off a pair of passes and broken up 4. Cheatham isn’t the flashiest, but he’s a solid presense. Chris Williams works as the nickle. He’s made 40 tackles this season, 4.5 for loss. He’s got a pair of sacks. Deven Drane is the other starting corner. He’s come into his own. Drane has 34 tackles, 2 for loss. He’s tied with JK for the team lead in INTs with 3. He’s tied with Stewart for the team leads in breakups with 7. 

Special Teams: The golden toe Tony Miliano is 16-22 on the season. He’s hit 38-41 extra points. 3 of his 6 misses have been blocked. Pat O’Donnell averages 45.3 a punt. 14 of his 48 have been over 50, 22 inside the 20. Danny Milligan averages 7 a punt return, but Isaiah Pead could see some action back there. Ralph David Abernathy IV is getting 24 a pop on kick returns. Orion Woodard has 20 tackles as your special teams ace. 

connecticutlogoRecord: 5-6, 3-3
Coach: Paul Pasqualoni 5-6, 0-1 vs Cincinnati 

QB: Johnny McEntee is the UConn starter. He’s the passing QB. McEntee is 152-295, 1,858 yards, 10 TDs and 7 INTs. McEntee isn’t going to wow you with his accuracy, 51%. He was sharp last week, 10-16, 90 yards. He’s going to make some good throws, but he’s going to make some bad throws. You have to capitalize on the bad. Scott McCummings is the wildcat QB. He is the second leading rusher with 271 yards and 5 TDs. He’s run for 4 TDs the past 3 games. He’s  not a threat to throw the ball, 5-10, 157, 2 TDs this season. He might throw the ball in the red zone. 95% of the time he’s in the game, he’s running the ball. 

RB: Lyle McCombs is the leading rusher in the Big East. He’s rushed for 1,109 and 7 TDs on the season. Thats’ 4.4 a carry and 100.8 a game. He’s put up 141, 4 TDs, 118, 135, 130, 124, 152, 1 TD and 95, 2 TDs on people this season. All Connecticut does is churn out running backs. McCombs isn’t a big threat as a receiver, 19 catches 172 yards, 1 TD. Mark Hinkley is the fullback. He has no carries and 6 catches. 

WR: Kashif Moore and Isiah Moore aren’t related, but they are the leading receivers for UConn. Kashif has 38 catches for 557 yards and 5 TDs. Isiah Moore had 37 catches for 496 yards and no scores. Obviously you want to keep Kashif from getting down the field on you. Ryan Griffin is the tight end and only other receiver to worry about really. He’s got 30 catches for 454 yards and 2 TDs. Nick Williams has 9 catches for 191 yards and 2 scores. He could be a potential home run threat. UConn has the worst pass offense in the league. Gotta shut them down.

OL: Mike Ryan, Steve Greene, Moe Petrus, Adam Masters and Kevin Friend pace the UConn offensive line. UConn averages 3.2 a rush and 127 yards a game on the ground. Those numbers have been matched in conference play. UConn has given up 35 sacks this season, with 23 coming in Big East action. That’s quite a bit. That’s Rutgers level bad. The line will pound the run all day long. Got to win the battle up front. 

DL: Trevardo Williams, Twyon Martin, Kendall Reyes and Jesse Joseph are the front 4. Kendall Reyes powers the line with 42 tackles. He’s made 11.5 for loss. 4.5 of those have been sacks. He’s second on the team with 3 hurries. Williams is a guy to watch. He’s made 38 tackles, but 13.5 of those are for loss. 12.5 sacks on the season. He’s forced 2 fumbles. He’s going to make someone’s life hell tomorrow. Martin has 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks. Jesse Joseph has 2 TFL, 1 sack, but has 5 hurries. 

LB: Sio Moore, Yawin Smallwood, and Jory Johnson are the Huskie linebackers. They are the 3 leading tacklers on the team. Johnson leads the Huskies with 93 tackles overall. He’s made 7 for loss and has 2 INTs. Smallwood has 87 tackles, 1.5 for loss, which equals his sack total. He’s got an INT. Moore has 78 tackles. He leads the Huskies with 15 TFL. He’s second on the team with 5.5 sacks. He’s picked off 3 passes, which ties for the team lead. He’s defensed 13 passes and forced 2 fumbles. He’s one of the better backers in the Big East. 

DB: Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson are the corners, with Jerome Junior and Ty-Meer Brown or Byron Jones at safety. Junior leads the secondary with 58 tackles, 1.5 for loss. He’s picked off a pass and defended 13. Gratz has 44 tackles, 3.5 for loss. He’s picked off a pair of passes this season. Byron Jones has 43 tackles as safety. He’s picked off a pair of passes. He’s blocked the only Huskie kick this season. Brown has made 37 tackles this year. He’s tied for the team lead with 3 INTs. He’s defensed 17 passes. Wreh-Wilson has 34 tackles, 2 for loss and 2 INTs. He’s defensed 14 passes. 

Special Teams: Dave Teggart is 18-24 on FGs for the season. He’s missed just 2 kicks in Big East play. He’s hit 28-29 extra points. Cole Wagner has punted 72 times with a 41.2 average. He’s hit 11 50+, and put 19 inside the 20. Nick Williams returns kicks and punts. Williams has taken punts for 6.2 a return. He’s taken kicks for 25.7 a pop, which could be dangerous. 

Keys

1cincinnatilogo9The UConn secondary has been torched for 325 yards in Big East play this season. That’s very, very many. The secondary is very weak on this team. As you can see, the front 7 is very good for the Huskies, but the back 4 are brutal. This seems like the type of game Collaros would tear up the Huskies. Munchie and Luallen have their work cut out for them. 

1cincinnatilogo9The running game is crucial for both teams. Neither can afford to have their running game cut off. McCombs may not put up huge yards, but he will pound the line. Pead is a huge key for the UC offense. Whatever team dominates the run game should win this one. 

1cincinnatilogo9I’m thinking that UC is going to go trick play. I remember in the spring game 2 years ago DJ Woods threw a reverse pass. DJ has a cannon. Let’s see that in action. 

1cincinnatilogo9I hope that the crowd tomorrow is there. The seniors deserve a nice send-off. I know the game isn’t as ‘important’ as it would have been if West Virginia lost yesterday, but it’s still for a Big East title. A small piece of the pie is better than no piece of the pie. 

Prediction

I don’t see a post-Orange Bowl dreams dashed hangover. I think UC handles their business. Back at Nippert for the first time in ages. Senior Day. A chance for 9 wins. A chance for a ring. Sorry Louisville.

Cincinnati 27 Connecticut 17 

Scott

About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on Run the Floor.

Quantcast