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2010 Connecticut Preview – Offense
Connecticut  RB Jordan Todman
Connecticut RB Jordan Todman
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 26, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Connecticut Husky Offense



Connecticut Huskies

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 Connecticut Preview | 2010 Connecticut Offense
- 2010 Connecticut Defense | 2010 Connecticut Depth Chart
- Connecticut Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

What You Need To Know: If the first year with Joe Moorhead’s up-tempo, no-huddle offense is any indication, the attack is here to stay. The Huskies were far more balanced—and potent—than in recent years, averaging an uncharacteristic 31 points a game in 2009. Hey, they’ll still run the ball plenty behind RB Jordan Todman and a rock-solid line, but former Notre Dame transfer Zach Frazer will get ample opportunities to shine at quarterback. He came on late in an injury-filled junior year, flashing the strong arm and confidence that once made him a can’t-miss high school prospect out of Pennsylvania. Connecticut’s biggest worry is at wide receiver, where capable hands need to be found for Marcus Easley and Brad Kanuch. While the program loves the upside of Isiah Moore, Kashif Moore, and Michael Smith, all three still need to prove it as primary targets in the passing game.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Zach Frazer
116-218, 1,461 yds, 10 TDs, 9 INTs
Rushing: Jordan Todman
235 carries, 1,188 yds, 14 TDs
Receiving: Isiah Moore
24 catches, 286 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Jordan Todman
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Zach Frazer
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Ryan Griffin
Best pro prospect: Senior RG Zach Hurd
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hurd, 2) Todman, 3) Junior C Moe Petrus
Strength of the offense: The running game, run blocking, the offensive line, tight end, red zone efficiency
Weakness of the offense: The passing game, receivers, left tackle, third-down conversions, turnovers

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: It’s taken a few years of frustration, but the Huskies finally have a quarterback to build a passing game around. Senior Zach Frazer , the former Notre Dame transfer, took hold of the job last year, starting seven games that included an interruption from a knee injury. At 6-4 and 236 pounds, he’s a classic pocket passer, with the rifle to make all the throws to go along with improved mechanics from last season. In his first good chance to showcase his repertoire, he went 116-of-218 for 1,461 yards, 10 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. What those numbers don’t tell, however, is that he improved down the stretch, finishing with five touchdown passes and just one pick in wins over Syracuse, South Florida, and South Carolina.

Projected Top Reserves: The capable backup will once again be 6-4, 223-pound junior Cody Endres, who has the benefit of 12 career starts over the last two seasons. When Frazer hurt his knee last September, he stepped into the lineup, going 98-of-154 for 1,354 yards, six touchdown, and four interceptions. He’s made strides since his debut, and has the size, toughness, and zip on his passes that make him a valuable commodity coming off the bench.

There’s a battle taking place for the No. 3 job that won’t be decided until August. The most experienced of the trio is 6-3, 216-pound junior Johnny McEntee, but an extra year on campus won’t guarantee much. A former walk-on from California, he’ll need to elevate his game in order to hold off freshmen Michael Box and Leon Kinnard.

Watch Out For … Frazer to take his game to another level. Behind him is a strong finish and a bowl victory. In front of him is a shot at the NFL. The senior has been in this system long enough and has too much at stake not to author his best season since transferring East from South Bend.
Strength: Big, strong quarterbacks. At an average of just 6-4 and 230 pounds, the Huskies boast a pair of strapping hurlers, who make an excellent pocket presence and have the RPMs to gun the ball into tight spaces. Built like Jim Kelly-esque linebackers, neither goes down easily, and will even dish out some punishment when they exit the pocket.
Weakness: Accuracy and consistency. Although headed in the right direction, the quarterbacks have a long way to go before reaching their destination. Sure, an average receiving corps is partly to blame, but Connecticut was just 65th nationally in passing efficiency, struggling with completion percentage and picks.
Outlook: Connecticut is close to finally building a bridge to 2004, Dan Orlovsky’s final season in Storrs. All eyes will be on Frazer, who has the next level arm, but needs to put it all together, stay healthy, and elevate the play of the receivers. If he can pick up where he left off last November, the Huskies might finally have the offensive balance it’s long craved.
Unit Rating: 7

Running Backs

Projected Starters: One-half of Connecticut’s 1000-yard rushing tandem is gone, but that also means that one-half is back. Junior Jordan Todman returns as one of the Big East’s premier backs, fresh off rushing for 1,188 yards and 14 touchdowns on 235 carries, and catching 21 balls for 185 yards. Though not built like a feature back at 5-9 and 190 pounds, he squeezes every ounce of potential out of his physical ability, running deliberately and with keen vision and quick feet in the hole. He won’t shy away from contact, eagerly lowering his shoulder in an effort to pick up more yards. The prototypical Husky, he’s a coachable, lead-by-example kid, who’s going to do all of the little things well.

Junior Anthony Sherman will again be at fullback, providing unheralded support for the running game. A 5-11, 242-pound bulldozer as a lead blocker, he can also mimic an H-back out of the backfield, catching 37 passes for 350 yards a year ago during his career. A veteran of 20 starts one of the team leaders, he was a captain in 2009.

Projected Top Reserves: Now that Andre Dixon has graduated, Connecticut needs to find a new No. 2 back to take some heat off Todman. One of the primary candidates is 5-10, 223-pound junior Meme Wylie. He’s been blocked out of contributing to date, playing in seven games on special teams last year, but has the physical make-up that’s kept the staff intrigued. A bull between the tackles, he has enough giddy-up and change-of-direction to be more than a one-dimensional back.

Going stride-for-stride with Wylie in the race for the all-important backup job is 6-0, 199-pound junior Robbie Frey. Mostly a kick returner up to this stage of his career, he has more breakaway speed and big-play ability than his competition. A quality all-around athlete, he had 69 yards and two touchdowns on five carries before being lost for the year with a torn labrum.

Watch Out For … Todman’s workload to increase, but not markedly. The departure of Dixon will mean more touches, but not at the expense of his health or durability. He’s not built for the pounding of 300 carries, which is why that competition between Wylie and Frey is so pivotal.
Strength: Todman. A bona fide all-star and feature back, Todman is about to begin making a name for himself out of just the Big East and the Northeast. After sharing carries, yet still going for more than 1,000 yards, he’s determined to be every bit as good as productive as West Virginia’s Noel Devine and Pitt’s Dion Lewis in the conference.
Weakness: Proven backups. While there are high hopes for Wylie and Frey, does anyone know for sure if either can offset even a fraction of the 1,093 yards Dixon produced a year ago? Someone will need to gobble up 10-12 carries a game because the staff doesn’t want to wear out Todman before the end of the season.
Outlook: Although not as ideal as a year ago, Connecticut still enjoys one of the best backfield situations in the Big East. Todman is a budding star who’ll flourish in a feature role, but the Husky system is far more effective when a complement to the lead dog exist. Wylie and Frey will get the opportunity to be that guy in August.
Unit Rating: 8

Receivers

Projected Starters: The graduations of Marcus Easley and Brad Kanuch has Connecticut on the hunt for a few new go-to receivers. One of the unrelated Moores is likely to assume the responsibility. Or both. Junior Isiah Moore saw the first action of his career a year ago, starting three games and making 24 grabs for 286 yards and a touchdown. A smooth athlete on the outside, he has the 6-1, 183-pound frame to make plays above defensive backs and the improving fundamentals to earn the confidence of the quarterbacks.

Fellow junior Kashif Mooreis a very different type of receiver, yet equally important to the fortunes of the passing game. Just 5-9 and 177 pounds, he’s more of a slot receiver, who can take a short hitch and turn it into a long gainer. An electrifying all-around athlete, he has the speed, shiftiness, and flair for the dramatics to encourage the staff to concoct more ways to get him the ball. He made the most of last year’s 22 grabs, turning them into 370 yards and three touchdowns.

Connecticut’s affection for the tight end won’t end in 2010, especially with the return of 6-6, 240-pound sophomore Ryan Griffin . He laid the ground floor for what will be a promising career, starting 10 games and making 23 receptions for 272 yards. Raw when he arrived out of New Hampshire, he’s continued to improve, adding muscle and tightening up his blocking and route running. It’s early, naturally, but he has the look of one of those once-overlooked Huskies, who ends up authoring a terrific stay in East Hartford.

Projected Top Reserves: The third man in the Huskies’ three-wide sets will be 6-0, 200-pound junior Michael Smith. Although he’s played plenty during his first two seasons, making three starts in 2009, he’s had trouble getting touches. A year ago, he had 15 receptions for 170 yards, but should get more looks, especially if he continues to flash some of the best hands and blocking skills among the wide receivers.

The staff will keep its fingers crossed about the depth and underclassmen at wide receiver. On rookie looking to make an early impact will be Malik Generett, who looked like a different in his second season. At 6-4 and 210 pounds, he has good speed, but more important, the length, mitts, and leaping ability to go high up and pluck the ball out of the air. Currently a backup to Smith, he’ll work his way into the rotation with a consistent summer.

At tight end, just because sophomore John Delahunt is buried behind Griffin does not mean that he won’t see the field. A 6-3 and 243-pound Canadian import, he’s built more like an H-back, with the sticky hands needed to play the position. No longer a stranger to the field, he played in 11 and started five, a pair when Griffin was injured.

Watch Out For … the receivers to take at least half a season to get comfortable in their new roles. Things were easier last year, when Easley and Kanuch could be counted on to be the primary target of the quarterbacks. Now that they’re gone, a bunch of former backups are being asked to expand their roles and step into the spotlight. It could take some time.
Strength: Yards after the catch. All three of this year’s top receivers have excellent speed and the burst of energy to turn a short passes into a long gainer. The Moores showed big-play flashes a year ago, and Smith dominated the spring game with five catches for 207 yards and three touchdowns.
Weakness: A bona fide go-to guy. Hey, one might emerge in September, but right now, the Huskies have a lot of cooks and no proven chefs. Ideally, one of the top three pass-catchers rises up and gives the quarterbacks a security blanket they can look for when everything breaks down.
Outlook: Potential? Absolutely. A feeling of security? Not quite. After recruiting this position well over the past couple of seasons, Connecticut needs the sophomores and juniors to begin playing like consistent veterans. The tight ends will be fine, but the wideouts still have something to prove.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The Huskies welcome back four starters from a line that will be the bedrock of the offense. The lone void is at tackle, where steady Mike Hicks has taken 48 career starts with him. His possible replacement on the left side could be 6-4, 270-pound sophomore Adam Masters , who’s going to be under the hot lights all season. Still undersized for the rigors of a 13-game schedule, he impressed the staff throughout the offseason with his light feet and quick retention of the offense. He has the inside track for now, but staying there will require a new level of consistency, as his chief competition returns from the trainer’s room.

The new veteran among the tackles will be 6-5, 332-pound senior Mike Ryan, who moved into the starting lineup in the fifth game and never left it. A giant in the trenches, he’s capable of mauling opposing linemen when he locks in and grabs hold. His key is to remain in shape and improve his footwork in order to avoid getting exposed out in space by some of the league’s faster pass rushers.

The most decorated of the linemen is 6-7, 323-pound senior Zach Hurd, fresh off earning a spot on the All-Big East first team as a right guard. A third-year starter, he’s done an outstanding job of adding weight throughout the years without losing the athleticism that allows him to fire off the snap and get to the second level. A physical force at the point of attack, he’s a drive blocker on running downs, who aims to finish on every play.

Hurd’s counterpart at left guard is 6-6, 276-pound senior Mathieu Olivier, a starter in parts of the last two seasons. While he lacks the raw power and physicality of some of his linemates, he has the light feet and overall athleticism to be especially effective as a pass protector. With a new left tackle next to him, he might be asked to help out frequently this fall.

If Hurd is the all-star of the group, 6-2, 292-pound junior Moe Petrus is not far behind. Connecticut starting center after beginning his career at left guard, he’s embraced the physical and intellectual challenges of the position. A line leader, with the maturity, awareness, and athleticism to become one of the league’s best players at the position, he’s about to get the recognition he deserves.

Projected Top Reserves: While Masters has the top spot at left tackle for now, it might end up being short-lived. Sophomore Jimmy Bennett was slated to be the future at the spot, but first must recover from a knee injury that kept him out of the spring. At 6-8 and 301 pounds, he has the more ideal frame to protect the passer’s blindside, and the long arms to keep edge rushers from establishing a clear path to the backfield. A top prospect from the 2008 recruiting class, he’s looking for the first action of his career.

The most experienced of the reserves will be 6-2, 315-pound sophomore Erik Kuraczea , who played in 10 games and started five as a rookie. The backup to Olivier at left guard, he’ll provide valuable depth for one more year before taking over the position. A powerful and tenacious run blocker, he uses his squat frame as an advantage, getting good leverage on the man he’s facing.

Watch Out For … the Huskies to dominate throughout the year on old-fashioned, smash-mouth running plays. Regardless of the combination, this is a physically-imposing group that gets off the ball quickly and pummels defenses into submission.
Strength: Drive blocking. Season after season, this school has had a habit of taking marginal players and coaching them into effective blockers, especially on running down. No disrespect to Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon, but you don’t produce two 1,000-yard rushers on a non-option team without some fantastic blocking at the point of attack.
Weakness: Left tackle. It’s the one big unknown on a line loaded with stability. Neither Masters nor Bennett has any experience at this level, which should give some sleepless nights to the Husky quarterbacks. If it’s true that you’re only as strong as your weakest link, Connecticut needs to solidify this area before the opener in Ann Arbor.
Outlook: Isn’t it finally time to start giving more attention to the job being done by offensive line coach Mike Foley? The assistant perennially does a phenomenal job of taking what appears to be marginal talent and leading it to higher ground. This group promises to make everyone around it better. If the left tackle spot is solved, it might be the best unit in the Big East.
Unit Rating: 8

- 2010 Connecticut Preview | 2010 Connecticut Offense
- 2010 Connecticut Defense | 2010 Connecticut Depth Chart
- Connecticut Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006