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2009 CFN Connecticut Preview
Connecticut RB Jordan Todman
Connecticut RB Jordan Todman
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 5, 2009


Will the offense find more of a passing game now that Donald Brown is gone and Jordan Todman is one of the new stars? Does the defense have to carry the team again? The Huskies are going to be an interesting player in the Big East race, but do they have enough to get over the top? Check out the CFN UConn Preview.

Connecticut Huskies

Preview 2009

By Richard Cirminiello

Interested in blogging about UConn football?  Let us know

- 2009 CFN Connecticut Preview | 2009 UConn Offense
- 2009 UConn Defense | 2009 UConn Depth Chart
- 2008 UConn Preview | 2007 UConn Preview | 2006 UConn Preview

Head coach: Randy Edsall
11th year: 58-60
Returning Lettermen: 34
Off. 18, Def. 17, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best Husky Players
1. LB Scott Lutrus, Jr.
2. FS Robert Vaughn, Sr.
3. LB Lawrence Wilson, Jr.
4. DE Lindsey Witten, Sr.
5. OT Mike Hicks, Sr.
6. CB/PR Jasper Howard, Jr.
7. LB Greg Lloyd, Jr.
8. RB Jordan Todman, Soph.
9. RB Andre Dixon, Sr.
10. C Moe Petrus, Soph.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-6
2009 Record:
0-0

9/5 at Ohio
9/12 North Carolina
9/19 at Baylor
9/26 Rhode Island
10/3 OPEN DATE
10/10 at Pitt
10/17 Louisville
10/24 at West Virginia
10/31 Rutgers
11/7 at Cincinnati
11/14 OPEN DATE
11/21 at Notre Dame
11/28 Syracuse
12/5 USF

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
6-6
2008 Record:
8-5

8/28 Hofstra W 35-3
9/6 at Temple W 12-9 OT
9/13 Virginia W 45-10
9/19 Baylor W 31-28
9/27 at Louisville W 26-21
10/4 at North Carolina L 38-12
10/11 OPEN DATE
10/18 at Rutgers L 12-10
10/25 Cincinnati W 40-16
11/1 West Virginia L 35-13
11/8 OPEN DATE
11/15 at Syracuse W 39-14
11/22 at South Florida L 17-13
11/29 OPEN DATE
12/6 Pitt L 34-10
International Bowl
1/3 Buffalo W 38-20

Donald Brown. Cody Brown. Darius Butler. William Beatty. Few major schools wanted them coming out of high school. Not only did Randy Edsall sign them, but he and his staff spent four years turning these hidden gems into first-day NFL Draft choices in April. It’s a model for success that’s clearly working in Storrs.

When your campus is in the Northeast, you’ve got to be creative if you want to be successful. There’s just not enough talent in the region to fill a roster or compete for postseason games. So what does Edsall do? He logs plenty of frequent flyer miles, traveling from Canada to Florida to find raw materials. And when he lands those two and three-star recruits, he quickly begins the process of transforming a handful into next-level players. Witness Brown, Brown, Butler, and Beatty.

The staff has helped make Connecticut surprisingly relevant in football, winning 17 games the last two seasons and getting invitations to back-to-back bowl games. The Huskies have succeeded the old fashioned way, leaning on a power running game and one of the most underrated defenses in the country. Now what?

With the foundation beginning to settle and the facilities among the best in the Big East, Connecticut is now hoping to get to another level and compete seriously for a league championship. Getting there will require more production from a feeble offense, which is why Edsall hired Joe Moorhead away from Akron to coordinate his attack. The new system is of the up-tempo, no-huddle variety, which sounds trendy in theory, but will sorely test a passing game that hasn’t had a pulse in years. The triggerman is expected to be the same Zach Frazer who high-tailed it out of South Bend two years ago when the depth chart got crowded. He has an opportunity this fall to make that decision look like a stroke of genius.

Is Connecticut about to sink back into the ranks of the irrelevant now that its brightest stars are shining elsewhere? Don’t bank on it as long as Edsall resists the temptation to coach elsewhere. Still, duplicating last year’s eight wins is going to be a tall order unless the offense improbably wakes from its four-year slumber.       

What to watch for on offense: The replacements. One back won’t be enough to replace the production of Donald Brown, the 2,000-yard rusher and Indianapolis Colts draft pick. It’s a good thing Connecticut has two talented backs. In sophomore Jordan Todman and senior Andre Dixon, the Huskies are confident that their ground game isn’t going to skip a beat, even without the services of their star runner. Todman showed flashes as a true freshman reserve, finishing second on the team with 296 yards and winning the starting job in the spring. Dixon actually out played Brown in 2007, running for 828 yards and earning All-Big East honors. Together, they make a formidable tandem that’s going to keep the offense from becoming stale.

What to watch for on defense: The twin tackles. The coaching staff has to control its enthusiasm when the topic is Twyon Martin and Kendall Reyes, the similarly-sized sophomore defensive tackles with the bright futures. Both played extensively as freshmen, even starting a bunch of games, and earning reps that’ll benefit them over the next three seasons. With explosive first steps and great motors, they’re liable to drive opposing interior linemen batty as they try to keep both out of the backfield and off ballcarriers. It’s early, but Martin and Reyes have qualities that could make them household names in the league before very long.

The team will be far better if… the offense is able to achieve a degree of balance. Everyone knows the Huskies can run the ball, but it’s been years since they’ve given the opposition a reason to respect the pass. Connecticut was 116th nationally in passing efficiency a year ago, which made the option-oriented offenses of Air Force and Navy look unpredictable. Joe Moorhead was hired to be the new coordinator and inject some 21st century ingenuity into the attack. If he’s successful, it would not only give the Huskies that balance it craves, but it would also make it much tougher to defend the ground game.

The Schedule
: The Huskies will be thoroughly tested for Big East play with a big statement game against North Carolina and a trip to Baylor wrapped around winnable games against Ohio and Rhode Island. The URI game is followed up by a week off, so the team should be rested and ready for the showdown in the conference opener at Pitt. The Huskies' Big East title hopes will be made or broken after the first three weeks of league play with at trip at West Virginia a likely must win. If playing the Panthers and the Mountaineers on the road wasn't bad enough, the other Big East road game is at Cincinnati. A late November road trip to Notre Dame will be coming off a week off meaning the Huskies will go almost a whole month between home games. Getting South Florida in the cold at home on December 5th is a major plus.

Best offensive player: Senior OT Mike Hicks. Is this a testament to Hicks’ consistency at tackle or the dearth of top-shelf talent on offense for the Huskies? You decide. One certainty is that Hicks has been a model of stability up front for the program, earning starts in 35 games over the last three seasons. At 6-6 and 325 pounds, he can maul defensive linemen, yet is surprisingly light on his feet. After being one of the faceless cogs in the Connecticut ground game, he should be ready for all-league recognition.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Scott Lutrus. Save for a few extra pounds of muscle, Lutrus is exactly what a college program looks for in a linebacker. He plays hard and fast, and always seems to be near the ball, whether it’s on running plays or mid-range passing routes. He’s also displayed tremendous versatility in his first two seasons, compiling more than 100 tackles as a middle linebacker and at strongside. Barring injury, he’s going to wind up as a three-time All-Big East selection and the school’s all-time leader in tackles.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Zach Frazer. Who else, right? The Huskies are installing a new no-huddle, up-tempo offense that has designs on achieving more balance and better production through the air. If Frazer can’t come through in his first season as the starter, coordinator Joe Moorhead’s mission will be sunk. The junior transferred from Notre Dame two summers ago for this exact opportunity. Now, he has to take advantage of a system that’ll allow him to open his arm up and show the nation why he was considered one of the 10 best prep quarterbacks of 2006.

The season will be a success if ... the Huskies bowl for a third year in-a-row. Too conservative? No way. Although they’re not about to tank by any means, this isn’t Ohio State that’s trying to replace four first-day NFL Draft choices on the fly. It’s Connecticut, where depth is still an issue. Plus, the schedule is rugged. The Huskies must travel to Baylor, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Cincinnati, and Notre Dame, while hosting North Carolina, Rutgers, and South Florida. If they can get seven wins out of this schedule, it should be deemed as progress.

Key game: Nov. 21 at Notre Dame. No, this game won’t have any impact whatsoever on the Big East race, yet it still carries plenty of importance to the Connecticut program. Faced with an identity crisis and little respect outside the region, what better way to make a big splash than with a nationally-televised win over the Fighting Irish in South Bend? It’ll be the first-ever meeting between the two schools in football and the return of QB Zach Frazer to the school he left a few years ago.

2008 Key States:
- Rushing yards per game: Connecticut 216.4 - Opponents 109.8
- Sacks: Connecticut 32 for 197 yards - Opponents 15 for 87 yards
- Passing touchdowns: Opponents 9 - Connecticut 5

- 2009 CFN Connecticut Preview | 2009 UConn Offense
- 2009 UConn Defense | 2009 UConn Depth Chart
- 2008 UConn Preview | 2007 UConn Preview | 2006 UConn Preview