Behind Enemy Lines: UConn

Nikki Chavanelle, Publisher
The Hill Topics

We spoke to Publisher Aman Kidwai to get his inside scoop on the Huskies' season so far and what their game plan will be for the Mustangs.

What are the biggest things you have taken away from UConn's play so far this season?

So far it is that the script has been flipped in terms of the strengths and weakness of this team. For years, UConn's MO has been having a solid defense and average to sometimes good enough offense. This year, the defense is struggling mightily but the offense is actually moving the ball at a decent clip, despite the losses.

The other big takeaway is that this team is rebuilding with Randy Edsall in his first year back. Previously, many thought Edsall might be able to take a decent roster and make something happen, but there's now so much youth on the depth chart that the direction things are going, at least for this season, is more in the mold of a "year zero" than anything.

What big corrections will UConn need to make heading into Saturday's game?

The secondary. Pressure on passers is a close second, and the two obviously are related, but UConn's secondary has been burned this season. They made a change at one of the starting corner positions and have been rotating a bunch of different guys in at safety, but if UVA and ECU put up the kind of numbers that they did, it'll be hard to believe SMU won't be able to do the same.

Who has stood out on offense?

The RB trio of Kevin Mensah, Nate Hopkins, and Arkeel Newsome has been a pleasant surprise in a position previously believed to be a possible weakness. Mensah is a true freshman who ran for over 100 yards against ECU and Hopkins is a redshirt freshman who did the same in the season opener against Holy Cross. Newsome is more of the waterbug type who has been making an impact in the passing game. We love the screen to Newsome.

Who has stood out on defense?

LB Junior Joseph has been a consistent force as a tackler and playmaker and DE Cole Ormsby has been around the ball a lot. It's slim pickings on this side of the ball given the unit's overall struggles.

What will be UConn's game plan to lock up the high-tempo SMU offense?

Hope that the offense can rack up enough points to keep up! Expect a shootout and hope for the defense to find a way to clamp down late if they can stay in it.

What are your predictions for the game?

I say it'll be a shootout, and UConn's offense looks alright, but it probably doesn't have the firepower to compete with SMU. I think the Mustangs win pretty comfortably in a high scoring affair.

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