posted on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 11:30 AM
We’re previewing the 2012 college football season with the help of SBNation.com. Today we talk with Mark from Big East Coast Bias about Connecticut’s chances at getting back to the postseason.
The Huskies kick off the season tonight when they host Massachusetts at Rentschler Field. Tough matchups come early in the year when they welcome NC State to East Hartford next week before traveling to Maryland on September 15. Marquee road games include trips to USF (Nov. 3) and Louisville (Nov. 24).
2011 Record: 5-7
2011 Bowl: N/A
2012 Bowl Projections:
Orland Bowl History:
Describe the 2011 season in two words.
Offensive Issues" I pick that because when you examine the team's performance last year, the difference between being a BCS team and winning the Big East and being a 5-7 team and missing a bowl, was the play of the offense, and in particular, the quarterback position. The Huskies have had NFl-caliber players on defense and at running back for years and if they'd just had competent quarterback play for 2011, they'd at least have been a bowl team.
Statistically, there wasn’t a big change from Randy Edsall to Paul Pasqualoni. Will we see a bigger difference in Year Two, or is that just UConn Football, regardless of who blows the whistle?
It's funny to see this perception of UConn football because, no question, it accurately describes the past two seasons. Prior to that, however, Edsall was more than willing to air it out as he did with Dan Orlovsky. It's unlikely that Paul Pasqualoni and offensive coordinator George Deleone will ever throw the ball 30+ times per game, but with Whitmer getting the job early and settling in, I do expect that UConn will have a more balanced offense in 2012. When they worked together previously at Syracuse and made the freeze-option offense famous, they still took plenty of shots downfield and I suspect you'll see that this year as well.
Last year the Huskies had a rotation of young players at both quarterback and running back. Will Chandler Whitmer and Lyle McCombs see the majority of minutes this year or will the revolving door continue?
I still believe you'll see some wildcat formation stuff from UConn this year with Scott McCummings, but I'd be shocked if there's anything close to the musical quarterback chairs from UConn this year that there was last year. Whitmer enrolled in January, had a strong spring, and was named the quarterback early in fall camp. Barring injury or completely unforeseen struggles, that job will be his and his alone. At running back, McCombs is going to get the lion's share of the carries, but he's not that big, so they'll try to lessen some of the impact on him by using Martin Hyppolite as well.
On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?
There are several. Outside of the conference, traveling to NC State will be a very tough game. The Wolfpack have an NFL caliber quarterback and several future NFL defensive backs. They could be a dark horse contender in the ACC. In conference, the trip to Louisville last in the season should be the toughest of their Big East slate. The Cardinals won last year, but the game was closer than the score might have indicated.
Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.
Worst case scenario for UConn is that Whitmer doesn't turn out to be any better than the quarterback merry-go-round UConn had last year. If that happens, the same kind of 5-7 or record becomes more and more likely, and after two years, UConn has squandered the program momentum built under Randy Edsall. Best case scenario is that UConn gets balanced offense with Whitmer throwing the ball and the defense, led by one of the most underrated defensive coordinators Don Brown, plays at the same level it has for the past few years, and the Huskies finish close to the top of the Big East again in 2012. The distance from the bottom to the top of the Big East is never very far, so moderate improvements on the margins could be the difference between being a five win team and being an eight win team.