Football: UConn vs. Missouri preview capsule

The UConn football team defeats Tulsa for their Homecoming game 20-14. Their next home game is this Saturday. (Charlotte Lao/The Daily Campus)

Time and Place: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut.

Where to Watch: CBS Sports Network, channel 67 on University of Connecticut TV listings.

Last Meeting: UConn and Missouri have faced off just one time prior to this Saturday night’s matchup at Rentschler. The Huskies traveled to Missouri on Sept. 19, 2015, when they lost 9-6 after failing to convert on a fake field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.

Last Time Out: The Huskies took on conference opponent Tulsa in what started out as an impressive shutout at Rentschler Field on Saturday, Oct. 21. UConn led 20-0 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game, but gave up two touchdowns and almost allowed a third, game-losing score as time expired. The Huskies escaped with a 20-14 win, their second consecutive victory.

The Tigers hosted Idaho last Saturday afternoon and absolutely blew them out of the water. Mizzou scored 51 points in the first half alone, before taking their foot off the gas in the second half. Quarterback Drew Lock threw for 467 yards and six touchdowns on 23-33 passing in the win.

UConn (3-4, 2-3 the American) vs. Missouri (2-5, 0-4 SEC)

Key Players: 

UConn wide receiver Hergy Mayala:

In a receiving core devoid of a true star, Hergy Mayala is the one who stands out the most. Mayala missed two games with injury earlier this year, but has 342 receiving yards, good for second on the team and first among wide receivers. The junior averages 68 yards per game and has five receiving touchdowns, by far the best on the team. He is quarterback Bryant Shirreffs’ go-to guy and should be the one to look out for on Saturday.

Mizzou wide receiver J’Mon Moore:

J’Mon Moore, a redshirt senior wide receiver for the Tigers, is unquestionably the leader of the Missouri offense. He can impose his will on even the best defensive backs, and that could mean trouble for the Huskies’ porous secondary. Moore has 580 yards on 31 receptions, to go with five touchdowns so far this season. Look for those numbers to grow bigtime Saturday.

UConn linebacker Junior Joseph:

There can’t be enough said about Junior Joseph’s ability to lead the Huskies’ defense. He leads the team in tackles with 63, has two sacks and has three pass breakups. However, no pass breakup was more vital than the one Joseph made in the dying embers of last week’s game against Tulsa. After straining his back in the fourth quarter, Joseph battled the pain and made sure to swat away a pass that would’ve surely been completed for a touchdown, one that would’ve given UConn a loss. Joseph is the heartbeat of the defense and will lead the Huskies into battle again Saturday.

Mizzou linebacker Cale Garrett:

The Huskies will need to watch out for sophomore linebacker Cale Garrett. Garrett is a beast with impressive tackling ability, as shown by his team-leading 53 tackles, and has the ability to drop back and make a difference in pass coverage; he also is Mizzou’s leader with two interceptions this season. He will be all over the field Saturday, looking to wreak havoc on the UConn offense.

Talking Points

Ailing Arkeel: Running back Arkeel Newsome will be out three to four weeks with a clavicle sternum injury. The senior’s absence will surely be felt on offense, where he is critical to the passing game. Newsome is one of the best pass-catching backs in the nation and leads the Huskies with 407 receiving yards, and is second with 218 rushing yards.

Spring Chickens in the Secondary: The Huskies’ depth chart in the secondary has been filled with young players looking to make an impact as of late. This week against Missouri, the starting secondary will consist of two true freshmen, Brayden Brown and Jordan Swann, as well as redshirt freshman Tyler Coyle and redshirt sophomore Marshe Terry.

These spring chickens could be fixtures in the secondary for the next several years, but have been thrown into the fire early in their UConn careers.

The Randy Report

On Mizzou: “You watch them on film, they make big plays in the passing game. Their quarterback Drew Lock is very, very good,” Edsall said. “He was the leading passer in the SEC last year. They got some outstanding receivers who can really run…We’re gonna have our hands full.”

On playing Power 5 schools: “We proved as a program that we could beat other good teams from other big-time conferences (in my first stint at UConn),” Edsall said. “Now what we’ve gotta do is just go out and do the same thing…I’m trying to approach it that this game is just as important as all the other games that we’ve played. To me, it doesn’t matter that Missouri is in the SEC.”


Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor  for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.hanna@uconn.edu. He tweets @realchrishanna.