Sunday, September 07, 2014

Defensive line makes impact in UConn win

It took all of one defensive play for it to become apparent that UConn's front four was going to have a more impactful role against Stony Brook than in the season-opening loss to Brigham Young.

In that 35-10 loss UConn's defensive linemen combined for five solo tackles but in a 19-16 victory over Stony Brook the same group had five tackles behind the line of scrimmage even though a leg injury kept Angelo Pruitt, the Huskies' most experienced defensive end, out of the game.

It started right away as nose tackle Julian Campenni, with help from Jefferson Ashiru, held Stacey Bedell to a 1-yard gain on the Seawolves' first offensive play.

The nose tackle duo of Campenni and top reserve Mikal Myers combined for four solo tackles, six assisted stop, 3.5 of UConn's nine tackles for loss and Myers had the team's lone sack. Even more important than any individual statistics was the way the interior of UConn's defensive line pushed the Stony Brook offensive line back at the point of attack, especially in the first half.

"We just did what the coaches teach us to do every day, they do a great job of putting up in position to make plays, we took full advantage of it," Myers said.

"We complement each other. I am going to do as good as he does and he is going to do as good as I do. We try to work together and play well as a collective unit.

Kenton Adeyemi, who got the start in place of Pruitt, B.J. McBryde and Reuben Frank also got into the backfield.

"It always feels good to get a little love, make a couple of plays when we had to,: Myers said.."We did a way better job tackling this week and kudos to a great week of practice."

On his day after the game conference call UConn coach Bob Diaco had some good things to say about the play of the nose tackles.

"I thought they played excellent," Diaco said. "I thought those two players had a major impact on the game and they made it hard for the offense to run the ball and even pressed the pocket back on passes and a lot of first and second down runs. They really had nice great games, great effort both guys and Sean (Marinan) had a great week of practice and I was very pleased with his work all week."

It was announced that Saturday's noon game against Boise will air regionally on ABC and be seen on ESPN2 by the rest of the country. Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway and Paul Carcaterra will call the game.

I caught some of Boise's game against Colorado State and they looked unstoppable on offense piling up 656 yards of total offense led by running back Jay Ajavi's 219 rushing yards and 280 yards of total offense. Ajavi is listed at 216 pounds but looked so much bigger the way he ran through would-be tacklers.

Boise may utilize its running backs in the passing game as well as any team in the country so that will be a test for UConn's linebackers and while he is not Taysom Hill, quarterback Grant Hedrick showed the ability to make plays with his legs.

It should be noted that Boise also gave up 462 yards (434 through the air) and had just two sacks on 58 Colorado State passing attempts.

The offensive coordinator is former Yale assistant coach Mike Sanford, who got plenty of air time on the ESPN2 broadcast due to his wife setting up a separate area in the house for him to sleep following the birth of the couple's second child Gunnar a few days ago.

The NCAA updated its stats through last night's games and let's start with the good news as the Huskies rank 22nd among 124 FBS team in 3rd down defense, allowing opponents to convert just 26.7 percent of the time. However, there's some scary numbers as well as UConn is 118th in rushing offense (76 yards per game) and 121st with an average of 9.5 tackles for loss surrendered.

Individually Geremy Davis ranks 23rd nationally with an average of 104.5 receiving yards per game. Boise's Matt Miller is among the receivers ahead of him as he ranks 13th with an average of 117.5 yards in the two games. Marquise Vann is 42nd with an average of 10 tackles per game. Deshon Foxx is 14th with an average of 21 yards per punt return (of course 72 of his 84 yards came on one return).

While Lyle McCombs debuted with Rhode Island, he was not the former UConn tailback making the biggest splash as Joe Williams ran 10 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns, caught two passes for 26 yards and another score and had a 12-yard punt return in ASA College's 48-21 win over Erie Community College on Saturday.

As for McCombs, he ran 17 times for 39 yards, caught three passes for 31 yards, had 57 yards on three kickoff returns and lost one yard on one punt return in Rhode Island's 48-7 loss to Marshall.

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