Friday, September 19, 2014

What a difference a couple years makes for UConn

Geremy Davis makes one of his seven catches in 2012 loss to South Florida
There are so many numbers associated with the UConn/South Florida series that simply defy explanation including the fact that the team finishing with the most yards of total offense have LOST the last seven meetings between the teams.

There is another one which truly blows my mind and that is the fact just nine players on UConn's current roster played for the Huskies the last time UConn played at Raymond James Stadium.

Perhaps that wouldn't be so noteworthy if that most recent game at the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers occurred four or five years ago but it took place just 22 1/2 months ago.

Five players started for UConn in the 13-6 loss as quarterback Chandler Whitmer threw for 284 yards, receiver Geremy Davis led the Huskies with seven receptions and 98 yards, Gus Cruz started at right guard, Reuben Frank (now a starting linebacker/defensive end) got the start at fullback while cornerback Byron Jones led the Huskies with nine tackles.

Jefferson Ashiru, Brandon Steg (one of 10 Florida natives on this year's UConn team), Julian Campenni and B.J. McBryde also saw time in the game. Six players who saw action in the game could have been members of this year's team but aren't for one reason or another. Defensive end Angelo Pruitt made the difficult decision to give up football due to injury, Shakim Phillips and Ty-Meer Brown are playing their final season of eligibility at Boston College, Lyle McCombs is at Rhode Island, Tebucky Jones plays at Fordham while Scott McCummings isn't playing. Other than Jones' departure, the rest of the moves came after Bob Diaco was hired at UConn.

By comparison, there are 21 players who took part in the game for South Florida who are still on the Bulls' roster (although standout receiver Andre Davis is not expected to play). USF's entire starting offensive line in the 2012 game could all start tonight.

Among the other USF players who played notable roles in the game two years ago are receiver Deonte Welch (team-high five catches in '12 game), tight end Sean Price (three catches for 45 yards), linebackers Tashon Whitehust (eight tackles, sack and fumble recovery), Reshard Cliett (six tackles) and Elkino Watson (interception).

It should be pointed out that South Florida played 52 people in the 2012 game compared to 35 by the Huskies. I don't expect that to be the case tonight. In UConn's most recent game the participation report listed 56 players and that did not include Steve Hashemi, who has been seeing time on the field goal unit while USF also played 56 players per the Bulls' participation report.

Diaco alluded to the fact that he was using the first three games as a developmental period resulting in a large number of players getting into the game. When I asked Diaco whether the playing rotation would be streamlined now that UConn has hit the conference portion of the schedule, he didn't exactly provide too much clarity on his plans.

"This whole year is built like that," Diaco said. "We can't do anything to compromise our development, we can't do anything to compromise our ability to get better. We need to get better as a team, we get better as a team every week, we get better as a team at the end of the season and that has to happen, that will happen but I also don't just want to hit you with coach speak, this is a very important game. This is a conference game and the energy needs to be different today than it has been and that is my expectation that the team is going to grow into that mode to understand they better turn the screw another half crank because four you, for your seniors this is an important moment, your personal goals are out in front of us and what you want to achieve out of the season is still all present so let's see that extra heartbeat."

A pair of future Huskies will be going head to head while UConn is playing South Florida.

 John Robinson's Dwight Morrow will travel to meet Ben Hartwick's Mahwah squad.

Dwight Morrow opened the season with a 32-6 win over Cliffside Park while Mahwah's season began with a 48-0 win over Fort Lee.

The schools have enjoyed some barn burners in recent years as Mahwah won 34-28 two years ago and  Mahwah won 21-14 in overtime last season.

It wasn't too long ago when there was speculation that former UConn defensive back Robert McClain's role as the Atlanta Falcons' nickel corner was in peril. Well, that seems like ancient history now especially after he had a team-high seven tackles in Atlanta's 56-14 win over Tampa Bay.

There weren't many highlights for the Buccaneers but Danny Lansanah not only recorded four solo tackles including one tackle for loss but also returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home