2010 Opponents: UConn

Submitted by Tim on July 28th, 2010 at 4:30 PM

This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.

Quarterback

zach-frrazer

UConn's QB situation was fluid last year, with both opening day starter Zach Frazer (formerly of Notre Dame) and Cody Endres going down with injuries during the year. Though Endres's final stats were far more impressive, Frazer's strong run to end the year saw him named the starter for spring. Both guys are experienced (Frazer's in his fifthth year, Endres is a redshirt junior) and battle-tested.

UConn QBs 2009
Name Comp Att % Yds Yds/Att TD Int
Zach Frazer 116 218 53.21 1461 6.70 10 9
Cody Endres 98 154 63.64 1461 8.79 6 4
UConn QBs Rushing 2009
Name Att Yds Yds/Att TD
Zach Frazer 17 -28 -1.65 0
Cody Endres 17 -97 -5.71 0

As you can see, both are pure pocket guys. Frazer may be experienced but he looks like one of the less threatening QBs Michigan will go up against. A comparable from last year: Frazer was 12 of 25 for 141 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT against the Notre Dame team that Forcier shredded (23/23, 240 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 70 rushing yards).

Running Back

Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon split carries last year, with Todman having slightly more success. Both earned secondteam all-conference honors. Todman's back this year as a junior. Dixon has departed. With little experience behind him, Todman should get the lion's share of the carries. Robbie Frey should get a few touches himself, as he's shown his speed on kickoff returns and a 54-yard TD run against Rhode Island last year.

UConn RBs 2009
Name Att Yds Yds/Att TD
Jordan Todman 235 1188 5.06 14
Andre Dixon 239 1093 4.57 14
Robbie Frey 5 69 13.80 2
Anthony Sherman (FB) 1 3 3.00 0

UConn did pick up USC transfer DJ Shoemate, who is immediately eligible and may get a dozen carries as a power back. UConn runs it a lot: last year almost 60% of their plays were on the ground.

Wide Receivers

UConn returns the vast majority of its receiving corps, but loses the top two performers in Marcus Easley and Brad Kanuch. Easley had an outstanding senior year, and was responsible for a ton of the success Connecticut QBs had - which helped him go in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Kashif Moore will probably replace him as the team's deep threat, but his loss should be substantial. If there's to be a significant step back from UConn's offense, it will probably be because they can't stretch the field as well as last year.

UConn WRs 2009
Name Rec Yds Yds/Rec TD
Marcus Easley 48 893 18.60 8
Brad Kanuch 27 325 12.08 1
Isaiah Moore 24 286 11.92 1
Ryan Griffin (TE) 23 272 11.83 0
Kashif Moore 22 370 16.82 3
Michael Smith 15 170 11.33 0
Dwayne Difton 8 45 5.63 0
Mike Lang 2 58 29.00 1
Nick Williams 2 18 9.00 0
UConn WRs Rushing 2009
Name Att Yds Yds/Att TD
Kashif Moore 5 24 4.80 0
Marcus Easley 1 11 11.00 0

Offensive Line

Connecticut tackle Zach Hurd (78) celebrates after a UCONN touchdown.  The Connecticut Huskies defeated the Virginia Cavaliers 45-10 in NCAA football at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT on September 13, 2008.

UConn's offensive line returns intact except for the tackles, depending on whether you consider LT Dan Ryan a starter (he started the first few games for UConn before going down with injury). The Huskies were 39th in rushing last year and improved over the year with some lineup changes, but were only 64th—essentially average—in YPC. They were 45th in sacks allowed.

The interior of the line should be impressive. The starters, from left to right, should be mostly the same as last year, going Mike Ryan—Olivier or Kuraczea—Petrus—Hurd—Masters. Zach Hurd was first team All-Big East last year.

Defensive Line

Lindsey Witten was by far UConn's best player in the front four, racking up as many sacks as the rest of his linemates combined and earning first team All-Conference honors. He's gone, but sophomore Trevardo Williams should be ready to step into a starting role. Sophomore Jesse Joseph returns as the other bookend. In the middle, redshirt juniors Kendall Reyes and Tywon Martin return. UConn's rushing defense was slightly above average last year, and it should improve this season with their line starters maturing into upperclassmen.

For the record, they held mobile quarterbacks (Boo Jackson of Ohio, Robert Griffin of Baylor, Jarrett Brown of West Virginia depending on how you classify him) to meager rushing totals early in the year, but Zach Collaros of Cincy and BJ Daniels of South Florida had decent (or ridiculous, in the case of Collaros) days against them. Season-long fatigue? Opponents seeing something on film?

UConn Defensive Line 2009
Name Tack TFL Sack Int
Lindsey Witten 45 13 11.5 0
Jesse Joseph 38 5 3.5 0
Kendall Reyes 37 6 3 0
Tywon Martin 36 8.5 3.5 1
Trevardo Williams 19 2.5 2 0
Brandon Dillon 7 1 0 0
Alex Polito 6 0 0 0
AJ Portee 1 0 0 0

Linebacker

Senior Greg Lloyd is considered a DE on the spring roster, though he started last season at MLB before getting injured at the end of the year (he missed the final two games, but still made second team all-conference ). He may step up into the DE role vacated by Witten, allowing others to step up. Scott Lutrus moved from strongside linebacker to middle linebacker in Lloyd's absence, and will start spring of his redshirt senior year in the middle. Lawrence Wilson led the team in tackles from his weakside spot, and returns as a redshirt senior. He was first Team All Big East. Jory Johnson started at strongside backer when Lutrus moved, and will probably start there.

UConn Linebackers 2009
Name Tack TFL Sack
Lawrence Wilson 140 11 5
Greg Lloyd 91 8 1
Scott Lutrus 69 5.5 3.5
Jory Johnson 28 5 0
Mike Cox (DE) 10 0 0
Kijuan Dabney 7 0 0
Sio Moore 6 1 0
Greg Robinson 2 0 0
Jerome Williams 1 0 0

Defensive Backs

The Huskies were subpar in pass defense (#85 in efficiency, #88 in yardage), but what do you expect when they're dealing with the untimely death of one of their best DBs halfway through the year? Sophomore safety Jerome Junior returns, as does redshirt sophomore corner and tongue-twister Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Classmate Dwayne Gratz will probably step into the starting role vacated by Robert McClain (a second-team all-conference selection, drafted in the 7th round of the NFL draft), and redshirt junior Harris Agbor will probably start at the other safety spot.

UConn Defensive Backs 2009
Name Tack TFL Sack TD
Robert McClain 64 11 5 8
Robert Vaughn 63 8 1 1
Jerome Junior 48 5.5 3.5 1
Blidi Wreh-Wilson 40 5 0 0
Jasper Howard 35 0 0 3
Dwayne Gratz 20 0 0 0
Aaron Bagsby 19 1 0 0
Harris Agbor 3 0 0 1
Jonathan Jean-Louis (RB) 3 0 0 0
Gary Wilburn 3 11 5 8

Et Cetera

MGoUser lfj75 put together a diary looking at UConn's performance against spread offenses last year. The takeaway: UConn was shredded on the ground by spread offenses (Baylor, WVU, Cincinnati, and South Florida) and excellent against conventional teams. Some of that has to do with the opposition. Other than Pitt all the conventional rushing attacks on the schedule are terrible. Meanwhile, Dion Lewis and his backup combined to average 6.6. YPC on 32 attempts. Since all the good rushing teams on UConn's schedule put up big numbers, the moral of the story may be that UConn's rush defense (45th nationally) is a mirage based on poor competition.

Comments

MAgoBLUE

July 28th, 2010 at 5:12 PM ^

You could have been talking about Tate's passing and rushing yards or his 2 TD's as being better than you remembered.  It wasn't immediately obvious that you were making a joke about the typo on his completions/attempts numbers.  So yeah, in the future a disclaimer would be helpful if you are gonna make a joke

jrt336

July 28th, 2010 at 4:43 PM ^

UConn will be a good first game. We should beat them, but they aren't a cupcake or MAC-level team. It'll be a good game to get us ready for ND. I say we win 34-24.

michgoblue

July 28th, 2010 at 5:00 PM ^

This is the first non-NCAA violation, non-expansion, non-jihad, non-recruiting post of the season.  To me, this means one thing - the season is getting closer!  Very exciting.

On a related note, when does the team report back for practices?

BiaBiakabutuka21

July 28th, 2010 at 5:16 PM ^

is the last week of unofficial summer work outs.  They have next week (8/1-8/7) off.

Then they report back on Sunday 8/8.  I think it is just a meeting on Sunday although I could be wrong.  First week of fall camp starts Monday or Tuesday of that week (8/9 or 8/10).

clarkiefromcanada

July 29th, 2010 at 12:30 AM ^

UConn will play like Michigan used to with a plodding ball control offense (except for their lack of gunslinging quarterbacks with legit deep threats) that will necessitate box safety efficacy for Michigan. Once Michigan controls the UConn run, and they will, after losing respect for UConn's deep passing game (or lack thereof) then it's go time. Tate and Denard open it up, RichRod uses more than the first three pages of the playbook and Michigan prevails 42 - 17 in the opener of the Rich Rodriguez Angry Redemption Tour 2010.

Raback that.

Durham Blue

July 28th, 2010 at 8:28 PM ^

will keep it interesting until halftime.  Then Rich Rod will yell "AVENGE ME, BOYS......AVENGE ME!"  Then our guys will collectively yell "WOLVERINES!".  Then someone on UConn's sideline will scream out "DRAGO!", but it won't matter because we'll house 'em by 32.

snowcrash

July 28th, 2010 at 5:45 PM ^

Has Endres not fully recovered from his injury? It seems very odd that Frazer would be the starter given his much higher interception rate and much lower completion percentage and yards per attempt.

snowcrash

July 28th, 2010 at 7:44 PM ^

Agreed, but when you have two guys who play the same position on the same team, there has to be some special reason to start the guy with weaker stats. I looked over their schedule and it wasn't the case that Endres faced weaker defenses: he played the road games at Pitt and WVU. From the linked article, the only thing the coach said was that Frazer played well in the last few games when Endres was hurt. (Frazer was terrible in the first two games before he got hurt, when he went back in after Endres got hurt he was much better but his stats were still weaker than Endres'.) Given the circumstances, you'd think that the give them both an equal chance going into spring practice instead of making Frazer the presumptive starter.

brice5

July 28th, 2010 at 6:10 PM ^

The team and the crowd will have so much energy when Brock Mealer comes out with the team. I wouldn't be sursprised to either see a kickoff return touchdown or we lay out their returner!

Musket Rebellion

July 28th, 2010 at 6:11 PM ^

"For the record, they held mobile quarterbacks (Boo Jackson of the notorious RAWRCATZ! of Athens, Robert Griffin of Baylor, Jarrett Brown of West Virginia depending on how you classify him) to meager rushing totals early in the year..."

Fixed

wishitwas97

July 28th, 2010 at 6:34 PM ^

from what I've been told by the players whom I have gotten to know at Michigan.  They think Frazier is a player and he played really well toward the end of the season.  They do think that they can handle UConn but it won't be as easy as many people think they will be.

wolfman81

July 28th, 2010 at 6:57 PM ^

UConn offense:

What I like to hear:

 If there's to be a significant step back from UConn's offense, it will probably be because they can't stretch the field as well as last year.

We don't need anybody stretching our secondary.  I'd like to have our DBs keep everything in front of them, and feel like that is a minimum standard.  (Picking off a pass or 2 = a good day or 3-4 coverage sacks or some combination of the two...)

What causes me (a little) concern:

The UConn RB situation.  Is the USC transfer strictly a pounder?  (They only had about 10000 RBs on scholarship there, and all of them seemed pretty good...well good enough to get recruited by USC anyway.)  Is our DL's first post-BG adventure going to be a success?  (I sure hope so!)

UConn Defense:

What I like to hear:

Below average pass defense (last season).  We ought to be able to throw on these guys.  And lfj75 tells us that we should be able to spread 'n shred them too.

What causes me (a little) concern:

That lfj75's effect was due to "conventional rushing teams" being teams that weren't that great rushing teams anyway.  I don't know...take a look at their 2009 schedule and you be the judge.

Totally homer pick:

Michigan 63 - UConn 6 with Jimmy B talking about Rich Rod's obligation to keep substituting...

Ok, for real.  I'm not scared of these guys.  Maybe 35-17 is more accurate.  I really think that the Offense will be able to score, and the Defense should be able to stop them with some regularity.  I'd really like to see the D hold them to <10 points...but there aren't many teams that Michigan's offense won't score more than 10 against so I'm not sure how important it is that the Defense is world beating for right now

Go Blue!

OysterMonkey

July 29th, 2010 at 10:19 AM ^

but UConn held 7 of the 8 conventional rush attacks at or below the yards per carry they averaged vs. other FBS opponents. So while it's true that the conventional teams were not rushing juggernauts, they did even worse against UConn than they did on average, while spread teams did better than they did on average.

uminks

July 28th, 2010 at 8:47 PM ^

Fist games are always tough, unless they're against baby seals.  UCONN is no baby seal but I think UM should be able to take the at the big house.  I could see either a close UM win or a big UM blow out!!!

WolverBean

July 28th, 2010 at 9:45 PM ^

for this game going into the summer, but previews like this just keep making me more and more optimistic.  I'm so jealous of everyone who gets to be there for the opener.

UM Fan NY

July 29th, 2010 at 6:51 AM ^

scares the be-jesus out of me. you never know what to expect opening week, especially from a young team like ours. i watched uconn several times last few years. the two things that impresses me most about them is their toughness and how well coached they are. not a flashy team by any means, but they fight for 60 minutes. they'll try to pound us with the running game and then go play action. it will be a good test of the physicality of our defense. i wouldn't be shocked if greg employed the same style defense he used against osu last year. i think we win a close game. anyone that thinks this team will be a easy win for us might be in for a shock.