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2019 Indiana Football Preview: The UConn Huskies

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(rap airhorn) Randy Edsall coming to Bloomington!!!

Connecticut v Syracuse
RANDY EDSALL SZN
Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

Last season, the UConn Huskies were one of the worst teams in FBS. The Huskies endured a miserable 2018 campaign in which they went 1-11, with their only victory coming in a 56-49 shootout with Rhode Island, an FCS team.

It’s pretty fair to say that head coach Randy Edsall’s second stint in Storrs isn’t going as well as the first. Edsall was 74-70 at UConn from 1999-2010, and even led the Huskies to a Fiesta Bowl(!) birth in his final season before moving on to Maryland. Since returning to the sidelines at UConn, Edsall has only managed to win four games in two seasons. His 4-20 record makes one wonder how much leeway Edsall will receive in his third season, and another abysmal season could mean the end of the line.

In an attempt to right the ship, Edsall replaced both the offensive and defensive coordinator positions during the offseason. Offensive line coach Frank Giufre was promoted to offensive coordinator in February. Giufre’s offensive line was one of the lone bright spots for the Huskies, as they cleared a path for two 1000-yard rushers last season. Lou Spanos takes over as the defensive coordinator after spending last season at Nick Saban’s Home for Lost Coaches. Previously, Spanos spent two seasons as the DC at UCLA before taking the linebackers coach position with the Tennessee Titans, which he held from 2014-18.

The new coordinators should both be upgrades, but it remains to be seen exactly how much of a difference that will make. Giufre’s background as an offensive line coach suggests that the Huskies will try to “establish the run” this season, especially given that running back Kevin Mensah returns for his junior season.

What to Expect from the Huskies

Like I said before, UConn should feature a run-heavy offense this season. Mensah, along with Toledo grad transfer Art Thompkins, will be the focal points of the Huskie offense. Thompkins is coming off a season at Toledo in which he ran for 563 yards and six touchdowns, and should be a useful change-of-pace back for the Huskies.

After ranking 108th in the nation in passing offense, the Huskies will turn to a new face at quarterback this season. Marvin Washington was the likely candidate to replace David Pindell under center, but he announced his decision to transfer in June. Now, it looks like UConn will turn to Mike Beaudry, a grad transfer from Division II West Florida. Beaudry, who was the first official signee in UWF history, led the Argos to a Division II national title game in 2017.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies return four of their five leading tacklers. I’m really not sure if that’s a good team, given that UConn conceded an average of 617.4 yards per game and 50.4 points per game. Lou Spanos certainly will have his work cut out for him in his first season leading the Husky defense.

How IU Can Win

Run the ball and stop the run.

This one is pretty cut and dry. Last season, UConn gave up an average of 335 rushing yards per game. With an experienced offensive line and Stevie Scott returning for his second season in cream & crimson, IU should be able to run rampant over the Husky defense.

Defensively, IU will be facing a quarterback with very little experience at the Division I level. Given that fact, UConn will need to get the running game going early and often. Along with a pretty solid 1-2 punch at running back, UConn also returns four starters on the offensive line. With IU replacing three starters of the defensive line, this could be an early test for one of the less experienced units on defense.

Prediction

This should be a pretty easy win for the Hoosiers. IU’s offense could have one of its most productive days all year and they should cruise to a comfortable final score.

IU 45, UConn 13