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Preview 2019: UConn Huskies. 5 Things You Need To Know, Season Prediction

College Football News logo College Football News 4/15/2019 Pete Fiutak
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Preview 2019: Previewing and looking ahead to the UConn season with what you need to know.

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- What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense

- Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats

- What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction

- Schedule Analysis

- UConn Previews 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2018 Record: 1-11 overall, 0-8 in American Athletic

Head Coach: Randy Edsall, 3rd year: 4-20

5. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UCONN OFFENSE

- The rushing offense worked. Partly because of the running of former quarterback David Pindell, the Huskies were able to finish with close to 2,400 yards and 16 scores. RB Kevin Mensah is back as part of a good young group of runners, but the line has to come together after doing an awful job in pass protection, and new offensive coordinator Frank Giufre is going to want to come up with some semblance of a passing attack.

- The Huskies had too hard a time throwing it, completing just 57% of the passes between Washington and four other players who threw a pass. The 17 picks in shootouts were the big problem, but now it's up to sophomore Marvin Washington to improve the situation. He's getting a push from redshirt freshman Steve Krajewski, and grad transfer Mike Beaudry is coming to give it a shot. Unfortunately …

- The top four receivers are gone with the leading returning guy - Keyion Dixon - a good one, but he only caught 11 passes for a receiving corps that desperately needs to find new, explosive options. The running backs can catch.

NEXT: What You Need To Know About the Defense, Top Players, Keys to the Season, What Will Happen

4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UCONN DEFENSE

- There's no way, no how it can be any worse. The Huskies were bad in pass defense, far, far worse against the run, and in all, allowed a historically awful 617 yards per game. There was no pass rush, just 11 takeaways, and nothing positive - for the most part - allowing over 50 points per game. Enter new defensive coordinator Lou Spanos to, if nothing else, crank up the energy.

- It all starts with getting something, anything out of the defensive front. On the plus side, this was a young group of underclassmen last season that took its lumps, and now there's depth and a few options to play around with. But can any of them play? It's still going to be a work in progress to find the right front four.

- Omar Fortt and Eddie Hahn have to be volume-tackle producers at linebacker - Fortt is a hybrid; he's really a safety - but the defensive backs are going to play a massive role again. However, if all goes well, they're not going to do as much. Safeties Tyler Coyle and Oneil Robinson are good young talents, but they desperately need the front seven to help the cause.

NEXT: Top Players, Keys To the Season, What Will Happen

3. TOP UCONN PLAYERS

Best UConn Offensive Player

RB Kevin Mensah, Jr.

The 5-9, 197-pound quick back finished second on the team behind former quarterback David Pindell in rushing, averaging 4.6 yards per carry with 1,045 yards and six scores. While he's a decent receiver, his job will be as the workhorse, carrying the ball 20 times or more five times with three 100-yard days.

2. QB Marvin Washington, Soph.

3. RB Art Thompkins, Sr.

4. WR Keyion Dixon, Jr.

5. QB Mike Beaudry, Sr.

Best UConn Defensive Player

S Tyler Coyle, Jr.

Not a whole lot went right for the UConn defense, but there was plenty of work to be had for the defensive backs. The 6-1, 205-pound Coyle ended up working like an extra linebacker, generating a team-high 109 tackles from his safety spot. Not just a thumper who came up with double-digit tackles four times, he's got terrific wheels, too.

2. S Oneil Robinson, Soph.

3. LB Kevon Jones, Soph.

4. LB Omar Fortt, Jr.

5. LB Eddie Hahn, Jr.

NEXT: Keys to the Season, Prediction & What Will Happen

2. KEYS TO THE SEASON

Biggest Key To The UConn Offense

Just don't screw up. The offense had to press so, so much thanks to a defense that couldn't do anything right, and it showed. The O should be able to run the ball without a problem, and there will be some semblance of a passing game. But the O can't turn the ball over 28 times again - it gave it away three times or more seven games - and the points have to come when the chances are there. UConn was a miserable 74% in scoring in the red zone.

Biggest Key To The UConn Defense

Where to begin? Start with slowing down the running game. The Huskies were absolutely obliterated for 4,020 rushing yards and 45 scores, allowing 7.7 yards per carry. All 11 FBS teams on the slate ran for 247 yards or more. It all tied together. No run defense, easy third down chances for the offenses, lots and lots of long drives. There's size and experience on the defensive front. Now everyone has to be better.

Key Player To A Successful Season

QB David Washington, Jr.

It might actually be 350-pound DT Travis Jones - the sophomore has to be an anchor for a D line that needs to be far better. The offense needs to keep the chains moving and has to do more with the passing game, and that's where West Florida transfer Mike Beaudry could come in if it's not Washington.

Last season, Washington only completed 38% of his passes with a touchdown and three picks as the backup, but he had a strong offseason and looked the part of the No. 1 guy.

Key Game To The UConn Season

USF, Oct. 5

Even if UConn improves as expected, it's still going to be tough to get by Illinois, at Indiana and at UCF after starting the season off against Wagner. Last year, the Huskies battled hard in a 38-30 loss to the Bulls, but this time around, it has to be a win at home with a trip to Tulane to follow and Houston to come right after.

- UConn Schedule Breakdown & Analysis

2018 UConn Fun Stats

- Rushing Yards Per Carry: Opponents 7.7 - UConn 4.8

- Average Passing Yards Per Attempt: Opponents 10.69 - UConn 6.12

- Points Per Game: Opponents 50.42 - UConn 22.17

NEXT: What Will Happen

1. UCONN WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN

The Huskies are going to be stronger, better, and they're not going to be nearly as miserable defensively. They might not be night-and-day good enough to come up with a huge season, but they're not going to be so bad that they can't compete.

It's okay to take baby steps after last season. UConn has new coordinators, plenty of experience on both sides of the ball, and just enough depth to play around with the lineup a bit more. But what it doesn't have is star playmakers to make everyone worry.

Set The Regular Season Win Total At … 4

The Huskies will beat Wagner, and they'll improve enough as the season goes on to beat a UMass, and maybe an East Carolina, and certainly pull off an upset against someone who's sleepwalking, but that wasn't exactly the point when rehiring head coach Randy Edsall after his stint at Maryland.

Expect a stronger running game and enough surprises for the American Athletic Conference to worry about, but don't expect miracles. For now, just pushing for close to five wins would be great.

- What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense

- Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats

- Schedule Analysis

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