This is the fourth part in a series of football season preview articles by campus correspondent Luke Swanson taking a closer look at some of the opponents UConn will be facing this season.
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”
- Sun Tzu, "The Art of War”
UConn football might not have a hundred games this year, and they may want to fear the result of some of them, but Sun Tzu’s message nonetheless rings clear. For my UConn football preview series I’m going to focus on, in my opinion, the best or most interesting player on each team the Huskies face in the 2017 season.
For some players in the league, the number speak for themselves, don’t they? In 2016, UCF's Shaquem Griffin had 12 sacks, which led the American. Griffin recorded 92 tackles, 57 solo tackles, and two forced fumbles, good enough for the top ten in the American in each of those categories. Griffin has only one hand, and recorded 20 tackles for loss.
All of these stats are truly impressive, and I haven’t even mentioned that he won Defensive Player of the Year for the American last year. Wait, back up just a minute. That’s right, Shaquem Griffin did all of that without a left hand.
Griffin lost his left hand when he just four years old as a result of amniotic band syndrome, a rare genetic birth defect. When Griffin was born, he had no use for his hand and everything he touched burned, leading his mother to make the decision to have it amputated.
This physical quality makes Griffin’s Herculean feats on the field even more impressive, and his massively disruptive presence was showcased during UCF’s game against Houston last year. Griffin notched 14 tackles, nabbed an interception and sacked Greg Ward Jr. three times,including this nasty spin move he put on Houston’s left tackle.
Matt Peart, UConn’s experienced left tackle, will have to be able to keep Griffin in check if the Huskies hope to put together any semblance of a passing attack against UCF.
Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.