Connecticut Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Connecticut Huskies
Posted Aug 1, 2006

Connecticut Huskies Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – One or the other – The name plate stuck to the depth chart in the number one spot for so long, it was easy to take it for granted.  O-R-L-O-V-S-K-Y.  Dan Orlovsky was so firmly entrenched as the starter that once he did graduate after the 2004 season, it was going to be imperative that the successor not try to be him, but manage the game, let a solid defense do the work and hand the ball off to one of a good pair of running backs.  But, most importantly, that individual had to play.  One game after the next.  11 games a year.  The last thing this U Conn offense needed was to have a three man roller coaster at the most important position on the field.  Unfortunately, that’s what the Huskies got last year – a three man rotation – Matt Bonislawki, D.J Hernandez and Dennis Brown.  A rotation that struggled throughout the year – in Big East games alone, the Huskies could only muster a total of 115 points in 7 games, not to mention a national ranking of 106 passing.  1-0-6!  Orlovsky could’ve done that, well, okay, it’s time to let sleeping Huskies lie.  Hernandez had the better spring and has a tenuous hold on the starting position moving into the 2006 season, but both Bonislawski and Brown will push Hernandez to become the starter.  If Hernandez falters, there are options, but until someone can step up and put a lock down on the position, the Husky offense is due to go nowhere.  The Husky offensive staff is going to have an ‘acceptable’ opening to the season to get one of this trio acclimated for Big East play.  The Wake game will provide a stern test for these QBs, especially with the secondary that the Deacons will bring to Storrs.  Regardless, there’s only one ‘real’ key to this season – QB.  It’s got to be one or the other.

2nd and Seven – Underrated doesn’t begin to describe them – Three teams in all of college football had a better pass defense last year than the Huskies.  Wait, hold on – three teams in all of college football – you’re telling me that the Huskies had the fourth best pass defense in the nation?!?  Yep, and here’s more good news, they’re all back.  M.J Estep, Ernest Cole, Tyvon Branch, Marvin Taylor, Jahi Smith, Darius Butler among others will all return to a back four that gave up a miniscule 159 yards per game.  In a way, it’s not surprising that the Huskies would have such a strong secondary, with a former DB coach Randy Edsall as their head coach.  But, it doesn’t matter who’s coaching this bunch, they’re that good and this year, they might be even better.

3rd and Three – The Final Run – Three years ago, Terry Caulley was U Conn football.  On a national level, Caulley put them on the map.  He was completely dominant running the ball and four straight thousand yard seasons were going to be his legacy.  Flash forward to 2006 - the Huskies leading rusher has one final run to show the Big East that he’s still the weapon that he was in 2002 and 2003 before his injury.  Last year, he returned to the lineup after missing all of 2004 and ran for 649 yards and 6 touchdowns.  That was about half the output he had as a freshman, but then again it was 649 more yards than he had in 2004.  With one final ‘run’ to make, Caulley would love to have a special year, a 1,000 yard year, the type of year that’ll cement his place in Connecticut football history.   And, put him back into the discussion of the ‘best running backs you’ve never seen play’.

4th and One – “I’ve built a program, what have you done?” – If you’re a U Conn supporter, through and through, you’re probably not that impressed with what Randy Edsall has done in his short time in Storrs.  After all, you’ve seen Jim and Geno build basketball programs from scratch, turning them into national championship contenders on an annual basis.  But, doing it at a football level is a different story altogether, but Edsall is continuing to build the program the right way.  However, the Huskies are at an interesting point in their development – do they slide right back down the mountain from whence they came or do they continue to assent to a status in which they’re playing in December or January every year (a bowl game, if you missed the reference)?  Edsall is one of the most underrated coaches in the nation and Connecticut is more than lucky to have him, but the pressure will definitely rise with another losing season.  But, then again, Jim and Geno both faced hard times at some point in their careers, too, and look where they are now.

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