Sophomores coming on strong for UConn's defense
|Foley Fatukasi is part of a talented group of sophomore defenders|
Well, all the sophomores did in last week's victory over previously undefeated Houston was to combine for three sacks, an interception, fumble recovery and 14 total tackles in the 20-17 win over the Cougars.
Luke Carrezola had a pair of sacks, Foley Fatukasi had a sack and forced a fumble, Cameron Stapleton recovered a fumble and Jamar Summers came up with the game-clinching interception.
When I asked UConn coach Bob Diaco about it, he merely said it was a case of the seniors on the defense led by captains Julian Campenni, Andrew Adams and Marquise Vann putting them in the right spots and making the proper calls for them to make the key plays. Perhaps that is the case but some credit should be given to these playmakers.
Thankfully I got better responses from Carrezola, who has a team-leading six sacks and 9 1/2 tackles for loss this season and Campenni when I asked them about it after Tuesday's practice.
"That is what we have been doing all season," Carrezola said. "I think we have been growing. All of those guys have been playing fantastic. We all know it doesn't matter where you are on the depth chat, you only have one mission to beat and shut down whoever we play."
There are four sophomore starters on defense and two more listed as backups in the most recent two-deep chart. The number would be even bigger if not for Cole Ormsby suffering a season-ending injury forcing him to miss the last three games.
It is hard to overlook the fact that the sophomores are averaging about four more tackles in the last four games than in the first seven contests. Leading the way is Carrezola and Summers who have four sacks and four interceptions during the current three-game winning streak.
"They have been working real hard and it is nice seeing guys like that really perform because you know you are going to leave the program off in good hands," Campenni said. "I am glad they are exceeding expectations and we knew that was what they could do, we know that was their potential."