2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Fordham at Connecticut
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Sept. 3 at Connecticut 35 .. Fordham 3
CFN Analysis: The Huskies weren't going to have anything more than a light scrimmage against an overmatched Fordham team, and they played around with several options and got several players time including Lyle McCombs, who was a bit of a surprise as the main back and came through big with 24 carries for 141 yards and four scores. UConn won't have any problems running the ball, but the passing game has to click better than it did last year, and John McEntee was solid completing 8-of-12 passes for 113 yards. He didn't have to push it like he'll have to at Vanderbilt next week, but he showed enough to stay ahead of Mike Nebrich and Scott McCummings.
(AP) EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni returned to the college sidelines Saturday coaching the Huskies to a season-opening 35-3 rout of FCS foe Fordham, in a game that was pushed back two days as a result of last week's tropical storm.
Redshirt freshman tailback Lyle McCombs ran for 141 yards and four touchdowns for the Huskies, two in each half.
The Huskies held Fordham to just 169 yards of offense, giving up just one big play, a 58-yard pass in the third quarter from freshman Peter Maetzold to Brian Wetzel that set up a 28-yard field goal, Fordham's only score.
Pasqualoni was coaching his first game since leaving Syracuse in 2004, and is now tied for the most wins by any Big East coach with 108. He was 107-59-1 during his 14 years with the Orange.
Junior Johnny McEntee started at quarterback for Connecticut, completing 8 of 12 passes for 113 yards, but all three Husky quarterbacks saw action.
Freshman Mike Nebrich threw for 60 yards and redshirt freshman Scott McCummings spelled both of them, giving UConn an option-style change of pace. He threw just one pass, but it was a 55-yard touchdown strike to tight end Ryan Griffin in the second quarter that gave UConn a 14-0 lead. He also ran for 23 yards.
But McCombs stole the show, after getting the surprise start at tailback over senior D.J. Shoemate, who UConn officials said was banged up in practice on Thursday.
McCombs had 122 yards rushing and two 2-yard touchdown runs in the first half. His first capped a 58-yard first-quarter drive that was set up by a 24-yard pass from McEntee to Isiah Moore.
McCombs set up his second score himself with a 60-yard run off the left side. He also scored on a 5-yard pitchout and a 1-yard run up the middle in the third quarter.
An interception by Byron Jones off a Sio Moore tip led to the scoring strike from McCummings to Griffin, after the defense bit on a play-action fake. Griffin caught three balls for 97 yards and that score.
Maetzold was 12-of-25 for 149 yards with an interception for Fordham. But sophomore Griffin Murphy also played, occasionally lining up next to Maetzold as a halfback. He ran the ball six times for 17 yards and also threw an incomplete pass on an option play.
UConn kicker Dave Teggart tied the school's scoring record on his fifth extra point of the game, giving him 259 points in his career.
Fordham, which was 5-6 a year ago, was playing its first major-college opponent since facing Syracuse in 1954. They had played the Huskies one other time, back in 1915, when they beat UConn 35-0.
Fordham began offering football scholarships last year, and is not allowed to play for the championship of the Patriot League, where schools are allowed only to give aid for financial need.
Fordham can still make the FCS playoffs, but only by earning an at-large bid.
Pasqualoni, a Cheshire native, spent the last six years in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.
Fordham (0-0) at Connecticut (0-0)
Sept. 1, 7:30, ESPN3.com
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Here's The Deal … It's been seven years since Paul Pasqualoni was a head coach. The former long-time man-in-charge at Syracuse makes his Connecticut debut and Big East return on Thursday night. The times have certainly changed since his final year in Upstate New York. In 2004, the Huskies were just starting out as a member of the conference. Today, they're the reigning Big East champs, meaning Pasqualoni will be expected to maintain the standard of play that was becoming customary under predecessor Randy Edsall. While Fordham has a rich football history, including being the alma mater of Vince Lombardi, much of it occurred long before any current players were born. The Rams are a member of the Patriot League, but were declared ineligible for the league title once it started offering student-athlete scholarships last fall. After going 5-6 versus lighter competition, the program is beefing up its schedule with a pair of FBS opponents.
Why Fordham Might Win: The Rams will be facing a team still adjusting to a new coaching staff and significant changes on both sides of the ball. In other words, Connecticut may be ripe for the picking. The offense will revolve around Darryl Whiting and a quality offensive line. The senior back went on a tear late last year, rushing for 251 yards in a win over Georgetown. The defense is strong at linebacker, where Nick Womack and Michael Martin will look to contain a Huskies ground game breaking in an entirely new backfield.
Why Connecticut Might Win: The Huskies' domination in this one will be most evident at the line of scrimmage. Pasqualoni has inherited plenty of quality big bodies who'll control the line of scrimmage throughout the evening. On offense, LT Mike Ryan and C Moe Petrus will help blow open holes for competing running backs D.J. Shoemate and Lyle McCombs. The Huskies defense figures to be rock-solid on the first and final lines of defense. In fact, the combination of Kendall Reyes, Jesse Joseph, Trevardo Williams and Twyon Martin will quietly be one of the premier front walls in all of America.
What To Watch Out For: At some point soon, Pasqualoni will name his first starting quarterback in Storrs. Who that will be, however, remains shrouded in mystery. The position has been one of the program's weakest in recent years, prompting even more scrutiny on the coach's decision. The protracted competition has four untested parties, Michael Nebrich, Michael Box, Scott McCummings and Johnny McEntee. While the mobile Nebrich is the lone rookie of the quartet, he's also one of the favorites following a spring and summer.
What Will Happen: Connecticut dropped its only game against Fordham … but that was almost 100 years ago. In this century, the Huskies will have no problems brushing aside the Rams on opening night. Pasqualoni will get a good look at his starters and backups, including a first-team quarterback whose identity won't be revealed until shortly prior to kickoff. The hosts will rack up more than 500 yards of balanced offense, coasting to an easy win.
CFN Prediction: Connecticut 58 … Fordham 3
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