Connecticut Preview - Offense
Preview 2006 - Connecticut Offense
What you need to know ...
It's all about the line. Injuries, inexperience, and general
problems up front proved to be too much for the rest of the
offense to overcome. The starting five should be better this
year, but the lack of depth could mean another nightmare if
injuries strike again. The receiving corps is fast, Terry
Caulley should be a 1,000-yard back with his knee finally back
to normal and bruising fullback Deon Anderson back on the team
after leaving last year, and the quarterback situation will
eventually sort itself out with four decent prospects to choose
Passing: Matt Bonislawski
82-162, 836 yds, 6 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Terry Caulley
141 carries, 659 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Brandon Young
28 catches, 371 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Senior RB Terry Caulley
Player that has to step up and become a star: The entire
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OT Mike Hicks
Best pro prospect: Senior FB Deon Anderson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Caulley, 2) Anderson, 3)
TE Dan Murray
Strength of the offense: Running back
Weakness of the offense:
The quarterback situation never got
settled last year with the nightmare on the line killing any
sort of consistent pass protection and injuries to Matt
Bonislawski and D.J. Hernandez preventing anyone from
developing. On the plus side, three quarterbacks return with
starting experience with Dennis Brown also getting a couple of
starts in as a freshman. It's a four horse race with Billy
Cundiff getting every shot to win the starting job, but he's
still likely a year away from being the man. Bonislawski has the
best overall potential to start this year, but Hernandez is the
The key to the unit: Find a quarterback who can take
charge and consistently lead the offense.
Quarterback Rating: 6.5
- Matt Bonislawski, Sr. - 82-162, 50.6%, 836 yds, 6 TD, 7
INT, 62 carries, 239 yds, 3 TD
Bonislawski never had a chance behind a porous offensive line,
but he showed amazing toughness trying to fight through a broken
clavicle. He returned a month after getting hurt filling in against Pitt, but
he was soon knocked out for the year. "Bones" is an athletic
passer with the mobility to take off at any time and the arm to
push the ball downfield without a problem. He has to cut down on
his interceptions and has to crank up his efficiency to get and
keep the starting job.
- D.J. Hernandez, Soph. - 46-90, 515 yds, 6 TD, 1 INT,
64 carries, 28 yds, 1 TD
Hernandez was thrown to the wolves when Matt Bonislawski got
hurt and played reasonably well, but he struggled in a loss to
Cincinnati before breaking his wrist. He had a terrific game in
the season finale against Louisville throwing for 255 yards and
three touchdowns without an interception to give him a bit of
momentum going into the quarterback race. He doesn't have the
arm of Bonislawski, but he's a tremendous runner and a dangerous
- Dennis Brown, Soph. 28-54, 293 yds, 51.9%, 2 TD, 2 INT
Brown got the call against Rutgers and West Virginia and didn't
play poorly considering he was thrown into the mix as a
freshman. He isn't the runner D.J. Hernandez and Matt Bonislawki
are, but he has an accurate arm and good poise under pressure.
- Billy Cundiff, RFr.
Considered to be the most talented of the quarterback options,
Cundiff still needs time to develop. Even though he's getting
every chance to win the starting job, he's the only quarterback
in the mix without any experience putting him back in the race.
However, he has the arm to quickly be a part of the starter
Expect things to be better this year even with the early
departure of Cornell Brockington to the NFL draft. Terry Caulley
appears to finally be back to his old self two-and-a-half years
since his horrendous knee injury. He'll be the school's all-time
leading rusher after gaining 112 more yards, and he should be on
his way to a 1,000-yard campaign thanks to the return of
crushing lead blocker Deon Anderson after he left the team last
season. Lou Allen is a diamond in the rough as both a big
tailback and an athletic fullback.
The key to the unit: Getting the groove back. Terry
Caulley has to run like he did in 2003 and Deon Anderson has to
block like he did in 2004.
Running Back Rating: 8
- Terry Caulley, Sr. 141 carries, 659 yds, 6 TD, 4.7 ypc,
27 catches, 176 yds
Caulley returned from an awful knee injury that sidelined him
for the better part of two seasons and led the team in rushing.
Barring another disaster, he'll be the school's all-time leading
rusher after no more than two games needing a mere 112 to break
the record. Problems on the offensive line didn't give him the
room to run that he enjoyed early in his career when he sped off
to over 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns averaging six yards per
carry before the knee injury, but he wasn't quite back to his
pre-injury form. Now he's healthy and should be more effective
with improvement up front. He might only be 5-7 and 185 pounds,
but he's tough.
- Fullback Deon Anderson, Sr.
Anderson is back after leaving the team last year due to
unspecified reasons. He's a walk-on, but he's an important one
as one of the Big East's best blocking fullbacks. He's a
crushing playmaker for the running game at 249 pounds leading
the way to some huge UConn rushing seasons. Don't expect him to
see the ball very much if at all.
- Lou Allen, Soph. - 86 carries, 381 yds, 4.4 ypc, 3
TD, 5 catches, 47 yds, 1 TD
One of the most versatile and vital cogs to the offense last
year, the 247-pound Allen can play wither fullback or tailback.
He has the size and strength to be a good lead back for Terry
Caulley, and he has the speed to be a workhorse of a tailback
like he was against South Florida rushing for 101 yards and a
- Donald Brown II, RFr.
Brown's excellent combination of size and speed should make him
a key backup right away. He's a powerful 207 pounds with good
- Fullback Stanley Williams, Jr.
The return of Deon Anderson and the emergence of Lou Allen
pushes Williams to the bench, but the walk-on has the is a very
strong blocker for his 225-pound size. It'll be a shock if he
gets a carry.
The receiver production was average last season mostly
because of the mediocre play of the quarterbacks. That should
change as long as the line improves in pass protection and gives
the passers more time to let the patterns develop. There isn't a
lot of top talent in the corps, but there's more than enough
speed and athleticism to be dangerous with Brandon McLean, Ellis
Gaulden and Nollis Dewar able to run with anyone in the Big
East. Brandon Young is an experienced receiver ready to grow
into the number one role and make more big plays. Tight end Dan
Murray is a tremendous receiver and will be on the short list
for All-Big East honors.
The key to the unit: Using all the speed to stretch
the field and hit more home runs.
Receiver Rating: 6
- Brandon Young, Sr. - 28 catches, 371 yds, 13.2 ypc, 2
Talk about consistent, Young caught 22 passes as a freshman, 28
as a sophomore and 28 as a junior in his comeback year after
missing all of 2004 recovering from a car accident. Now he's the
team's number one target and put up far bigger numbers after
struggling a bit last year with an ankle injury. He has the deep
speed to be far more dangerous.
- Brandon McLean, Jr. - 15 catches, 180 yds, 12 ypc
A key backup as well as a good special teamer, McLean will step
into the starting role vacated by Jason Anderson. He's not big
at a rail thin 5-10 and 166 pounds, but he's a tremendous
athlete with next-level speed and quickness. The coaches will do
whatever it takes to get the ball in his hands in space.
- Tight end Dan Murray, Sr. - 23 catches, 296 yds, 12.9
ypc, 3 TD
Back for his fourth year as the starter, the All-Big East tight
end will continue to be one of the key targets in the passing
game with 60 career grabs for 815 yards and nine touchdowns. He
has the speed to get deep and make big plays across the middle,
but he's an average, but improving, blocker.
- Ellis Gaulden, Soph. - 1 catch, 6 yards
The sophomore is one of the team's most interesting receiver
options. He doesn't have a lot of experience, but he's a big
target at 6-2 and 192 pounds with big-time leaping ability. He
won the high jump at the Big East Indoor Championships setting a
mark at just over seven feet.
- Nollis Dewar, Soph. - 7 catches, 103 yds, 14.7 ypc, 2
The 6-4 sophomore is one of the team's biggest receiver options
with enough deep speed and leaping ability to be a dangerous
option behind Brandon Young. He got lost in the shuffle last
year, but that won't happen this season.
- Seth Fogarty, Jr. - 6 catches, 43 yds, 7.2 ypc, 1 TD
A true possession receiver last year, Fogarty made a little bit
of noise as a freshman making a touchdown catch against
Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the 6-0, 206-pound junior's football
career might be over after suffering a leg injury after an ATV
- Tight end Steve Brouse, Soph. - 3 catches, 44 yds, 14.7
Brouse is a little bigger than starter Dan Murray and has the
hands to be a bigger part of the passing game. He'll make his
biggest impact on special teams this year and should be a
big-time producer in the offense in 2007.
2005 was a nightmare for the line with a rash of
injuries not helping an already shaky situation. Even with all the
inexperience and all the problems the line still had a decent year run
blocking. Pass protection was a different story allowing 35 sacks and
rarely giving the quarterbacks time to breathe. There's experience
returning this year, but not a whole bunch of obvious talent with
sophomore guard Immanuel Hutcherson one of the keys to the team's
success as the anchor up front. Former defensive linemen Matt Applebaum
and center Keith Gray have to start playing more like experienced
blockers while sophomore William Beatty and huge Mike Hicks have to
shine right away at tackle. Getting the starters straight is hard
enough; forget about quality depth for now.
The key to the unit: Stay healthy long enough to develop some
sort of continuity and be much better in pass protection.
Offensive Line Rating: 5.5
- OT William Beatty, Soph.
Beatty is a smart, athletic tackle who stepped in and turned into one of
the team's most promising linemen starting four games and seeing time in
eight. He came on at the end of the year showing enough potential to
become the team's rising star on the left side.
- OG Matt Applebaum, Sr.
The former defensive lineman started every game last year at left guard
and proved to be a major surprise as a run blocker. However, he's a bit
limited in pass protection and will be pushed hard for the starting job
by Brian Kersmanc.
- C Keith Gray, Soph.
Gray started last season as a defensive tackle and ended up starting at
center. He's a tough 283-pound blocker who became solid for the ground
- OG Immanuel Hutcherson, Soph.
The line was in desperate need of stability last year and found it in
Hutcherson. The 286-pound sophomore started every game and should be the
anchor of the line and the one the team runs behind.
- OT Mike Hicks. RFr.
The massive 6-7, 336-pound Hicks will get the first shot at replacing
Grant Preston on the right side. He's ridiculously strong and has the
big frame to become a mauling pass blocker. The question is whether or
not he has the feet to be a consistent pass protector, but he's good on
the move with impressive speed for his size.
- OG Brian Kersmanc, Jr.
Kersmanc was supposed to be one of the team's new rocks up front after
seeing a little bit of time in 2004, but it didn't happen. At 6-5 and
309 pounds he's a bigger option than the 292-pound Matt Applebaum at
left guard and will be a key reserve in the rotation if he doesn't win
the starting job outright.
- OT Dan Ryan, RFr.
While not nearly as big or imposing as Mike Hicks, the 6-8, 295-pound
Ryan is hardly tiny. The walk-on will battle for the starting job on the
right side but will likely spend the year as a reserve.