2008 CFN Connecticut Preview
Connecticut QB Tyler Lorenzen
Connecticut QB Tyler Lorenzen
Posted Apr 21, 2008

Yes, Connecticut was the Big East champion last year. Well, it shared the honor with West Virginia, but it still had a good season that almost no one noticed. This year, Tyler Lorenzen and the Huskies will look to prove that 2007 wasn't a fluke. Check out the CFN UConn Preview.

Connecticut Huskies

Preview 2008

By Richard Cirminiello

- 2008 CFN Connecticut Preview | 2008 UConn Offense
- 2008 UConn Defense | 2008 UConn Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Connecticut Preview | 2006 CFN Connecticut Preview 

Head coach: Randy Edsall
10th year: 50-55
Returning Lettermen: 34
Off. 18, Def. 15, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best Husky Players
1. DE Cody Brown, Sr.
2. CB Darius Butler, Sr.
3. RB Andre Dixon, Jr.
4. LB Scott Lutrus, Soph.
5. RB Donald Brown, Jr.
6. LB Lawrence Wilson, Soph.
7. DE Julius Williams, Sr.
8. FS Robert Vaughn, Jr.
9. QB Tyler Lorenzen, Sr.
10. TE Steve Brouse, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2008 Schedule: 0-0

Aug. 28 Hofstra
Sept. 6 at Temple
Sept. 13 Virginia
Sept. 19 Baylor
Sept. 27 at Louisville
Oct. 4 at North Carolina
Oct. 18 at Rutgers
Oct. 25 Cincinnati
Nov. 1 West Virginia
Nov. 15 at Syracuse
Nov. 22 at South Florida
Dec. 6 Pitt

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-7
2007 Schedule:

Sept. 1 at Duke W 45-14
Sept. 8 Maine W 38-0
Sept. 15 Temple W 22-17
Sept. 22 at Pitt W 34-14
Sept. 29
Akron W 44-10
Oct. 13 at Virginia L 17-16
Oct. 20 Louisville W 21-17
Oct. 27
South Florida W 22-15
Nov. 3 Rutgers W 38-19
Nov. 10 at Cincinnati L 27-3
Nov. 17 Syracuse W 30-7
Nov. 24 at W Virginia L 66-21
Meineke Car Care Bowl
Dec. 29 Wake Forest L 24-10

Although Connecticut technically won a share of the Big East title last year, that’s merely an anecdotal footnote designed for the athletic department to use in press releases. Most people will remember the Huskies getting ambushed, 66-21, by West Virginia, the league’s representative in a BCS bowl game, and for having little in the way of offensive firepower. In other words, to avoid being branded nationally as a one-year fluke, UConn needs to answer last season’s improbable 9-4 mark with another winning record. And head coach Randy Edsall knows it.

The Huskies will be looking to build on their recent success by shuffling around personnel on defense to get the most speed on the field while searching for answers to an anemic aerial attack.  At the core, however, will be a familiar formula under Edsall. With another no-name defense and a no-nonsense ground game, this will still be the annoying Big East pest that’ll bother the big names once again. 

While the offense would love to get more from QB Tyler Lorenzen and a passing game that was 97th nationally, the focus will again be on Andre Dixon and Donald Brown, a pair of 800-yard rushers who’ll be competing for more touches. If Lorenzen can overcome a mediocre set of receivers to improve his production, it’ll make it that much harder to stack the box to stop Dixon and Brown. 

Defensively, the Huskies lose just three starters from a unit that was air-tight in all but the West Virginia debacle.  They yielded an average of just 15 points in the other 12 games, finishing seventh in the country in turnover margin and tenth in pass efficiency defense. Expect more of the same results from a defense that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it deserves.

Is Connecticut ready to compete with West Virginia and actually win an outright Big East championship? Not quite. However, there’s enough returning talent in Storrs for the Huskies to make it to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history.

What to watch for on offense: CB Darius Butler’s role in the offense. In dire need of a spark in the passing game, the Huskies have acquiesced to Butler’s pleas to line up at wide receiver this year as well as covering them. He’s a naturally gifted athlete with terrific ball skills, but how many snaps a game he gets will depend on his impact. While the coaches don’t want to wear out one their premier players, if he can help move the chains, Butler should get a handful of appearances on offense every game.

What to watch for on defense: A much greater emphasis on speed. Rewind the tape of last November’s 66-21 loss to West Virginia and you’ll understand why the Huskies have become downright obsessed with getting faster. The program realizes it’s a must if it has any hope of reaching a new plateau in the Big East. The need for speed is the primary reason why LB Scott Lutrus has been shifted inside former S Dahna Deleston was moved to strongside linebacker.

The team will be far better if… QB Tyler Lorenzen gives defenses a reason to reconsider putting eight men in the box. Although this will never be a pass-happy program, Connecticut needs more from an attack that produced just 185 yards a game through the air. Lorenzen is capable of upping his role, but he can’t get it done on his own. Last year’s leading receiver, Terence Jeffers, is seeking greener pastures elsewhere, leaving a sea of mediocrity in his wake.  While Brad Kanuch and D.J. Hernandez can pass as possession targets, the Huskies are still looking for someone who can stretch a secondary.  

The Schedule:
It's not bad. Virginia's good, but if the Huskies plan on having a good season, they need to win the interesting early non-conference date. Do that and there should be a 4-0 start before jumping into Big East play with a road trip to Louisville. There's a tougher-than-it-looks trip to North Carolina as the second of three straight road games, and then comes a must-win homestand against Cincinnati and West Virginia before a week off, road games at Syracuse and South Florida, and another week off before hosting Pitt.

Best offensive player: RB Andre Dixon. Dixon was a revelation for the Huskies, at times outplaying the more publicized Donald Brown en route to 828 yards and three touchdowns on 167 carries. A hard-charging slasher who doesn’t shy away from contact, he was also fifth on the team with 24 catches for 280 yards and another score. Beyond his ability to spark the ground game, Dixon also lit a fire under Brown, who was languishing in the early part of the season.

Best defensive player: DE Cody Brown. The only thing to slow down Brown in the last two years was a broken arm midway through the 2006 season. Over his last 19 games, he racked up 24 tackles for loss and a dozen sacks, routinely getting penetration and disrupting the flow of a play.  At only 6-3 and 246 pounds, he’s not only a ferocious edge rusher but also a sound run defender, leading Husky linemen with 50 tackles a year ago.

Key player to a successful season: LB Scott Lutrus. He’s moving to middle linebacker to make more of an impact replacing the ultra-consistent Danny Lansanah. Lutrus needs to build on his Freshman All-American debut by becoming a force in run defense and a capable cover guy on passing downs. He’s got the speed, natural instincts, and nose for the ball to excel on the inside, freeing up the coaches to get a little more speed at the outside positions.

The season will be a success if ... the Huskies play a 13th game. Yes, the Huskies were tied atop the Big East last year, but that shouldn’t artificially inflate expectations for the upcoming season. This is still a program that can use December bowl games as building blocks for the future and sound bites on recruiting trips. If Connecticut finishes ahead of Rutgers, South Florida, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh for a second straight year, go ahead and label the season as wildly successful.

Key game: Nov. 1 vs. West Virginia. After getting spanked so thoroughly against the Mountaineers last fall, the Huskies desperately need to put forth a better showing, especially in front of the home crowd. Even after winning nine games a year ago, the team did little to earn national respect or reduce its legions of skeptics. A strong performance here, even in a losing cause, would do wonders for the ego and image. 

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Interceptions thrown: Opponents 23 – Connecticut 6
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 6 of 16 (38%) – Connecticut 3 of 12 (35%)
- First quarter scoring: Connecticut 87 – Opponents 51


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