Football: Navy quarterback Reynolds is UConn’s toughest challenge yet

Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds runs for a long gain during the second quarter against East Carolina during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Annapolis, Maryland. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette via AP)

The UConn football team will once again have their hands full with a dual-threat quarterback this week when they take on Navy.  

First it was Villanova’s John Robertson, last year’s FCS Player of the Year. Next it was Army’s Ahmad Bradshaw, and last week, they faced Maty Mauk from Missouri.

On Saturday, the Huskies (2-1) will perhaps have to face the best quarterback yet in Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.

Reynolds is eight touchdowns away from breaking Montee Ball’s (Wisconsin) record of 77 career touchdowns.

“He’s talented in terms of speed and quickness,” UConn head coach Bob Diaco said on Tuesday. “He’s got a strong arm. He can go through read progressions and deal the football per coverage, which is not unique necessarily but not all the [triple] option quarterbacks can do that, especially when they’re young. He has a multi-layer reads, he’s athletic and fast and tough. But he also now doesn’t make the wrong decision.”

I think one of the best things that makes him all those things right now is: he’s a senior and he’s surrounded by seniors.
— UConn head coach Bob Diaco, on Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds.

Reynolds’ 70 touchdowns are the most ever by a NCAA quarterback. To put what Reynolds has done in his Navy career – with still more than half a season to go – into perspective, the next closest is Eric Crouch (Nebraska) and Colin Kaepernick (Nevada) with 59. Tim Tebow (Florida) had 57.

On Monday, he was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week after setting an AAC single-game record with five rushing touchdowns to lead Navy over East Carolina 45-21. 

Despite Reynolds’ individual play, Diaco said that for him to be surrounded by guys he has been playing with for four years is a key part to the team’s and his success. 

“I think one of the best things that makes him all those things right now is: he’s a senior and he’s surrounded by seniors,” Diaco said. “They have nine of the 11 starters on offense are seniors and when you factor in the top 22, there’s only a small handful – maybe four players – of all 22 that are not seniors.”

Diaco also said that his decision-making was phenomenal.

“When it’s supposed to go to the full back, it goes to the full back. When he’s supposed to pull, he pulls,” Diaco said. “When it’s got to go on the perimeter, it goes on the perimeter. He’s very ball aware and supported by a veteran group.”

The UConn defense has played extremely well this season, ranking first in the American total yards allowed per game (279.3) and scoring defense (13.7). 

Navy (2-0, 1-0 American) comes into Saturday’s contest against UConn scoring 46.5 points per game. They are also averaging 393 yards rushing per game. Reynolds has gained 186 yards and scored two touchdowns in two games this year. 

In UConn’s first three games, they allowed 208 total rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks

Granted he runs the triple-option offense, Reynolds will likely be the toughest obstacle that the Huskies have faced under center.  

“He’s a four-year starter, great athlete, [he] knows the triple-option extremely well so it’s going to be a difficult matchup to try and stop him,” redshirt senior defensive tackle Julian Campenni said of Reynolds.


Matt Zampini is sports editor for The Daily Campus, and also covers UConn Football. He can be reached via email at matthew.zampini@uconn.edu. He tweets  @Matt_Zamp.