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Know the Foe: Connecticut

Connecticut quarterback Bryant Shirreffs (4) ranks fifth in the American Athletic Conference with 255.5 yards per game.

John Woike | Hartford Courant

Connecticut quarterback Bryant Shirreffs (4) ranks fifth in the American Athletic Conference with 255.5 yards per game.



A look at Connecticut, which faces USF on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium

Nickname: Huskies
Record: 3-3 (1-2 American Athletic Conference)
Wins: Maine 24-21, Virginia 13-10, Cincinnati 20-9
Losses: at Navy 28-24, Syracuse 31-24, at Houston 42-14
Coach: Bob Diaco (third season, 11-20)

The breakdown: This isn't your older brother's pro-style UConn team. Those who watched their win Saturday against Cincinnati observed the Huskies in single-back spread formations, engineered by a burly quarterback (redshirt junior Bryant Shirreffs) who can do some damage in the open field. "We try to do whatever we feel like we need to do on offense to move the ball and score points," Diaco said. "And we have a large playbook that allows for a lot of opportunity there." The results have been mixed; UConn averages only 19.8 points (last in the AAC) and 134.5 rushing yards (11th), but they outscored Cincinnati 13-0 in the second half, controlling the ball more than 19 minutes during that time. Shirreffs, fifth in the league in total offense (255.5 ypg), has one of the league's top targets in senior Noel Thomas (55 catches, 631 yards) and is protected by a line averaging 310 pounds. Still, the Huskies' calling card is a defense that ranks 11th nationally against the run (98.8 ypg) and allowed 2 rushing yards against Cincy. Keep an eye on senior S Obi Melifonwu, third in the AAC with 8.3 tackles per game.

Odds and ends: Bear in mind, in the Huskies' loss at Navy, they had the ball on the Midshipmen's 1-yard line when time expired (and questions about Diaco's clock management commenced). ... UConn has forced only three turnovers this year (two INTs, one FR), which ranks 125th in Division I. ... Current Bulls receivers coach T.J. Weist was UConn's interim head coach the final eight games of 2013, after Paul Pasqualoni was fired. That team won its last three contest after an 0-9 start. ... UConn has nine Florida natives on its roster, none from the bay area. ... Fifth-year UConn PK Bobby Puyol is 5-of-6 on field goals this year, including a 43-yard game-winner with 1:33 to play against Virginia.

Willie Taggart's take: "Here lately, they've been doing (their offense) a little different. I see some of the things we're doing. ... They find a way to make plays. You watch those games, especially the games they've won, they found ways to make plays."

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 2:57pm]


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