Football: UConn vs. Holy Cross preview capsule

The UConn football team in their annual Spring Game. The Huskies will take on Holy Cross in the season opener Thursday, August 31, at Rentschler Field. (Olivia Stenger/The Daily Campus)

Time and Place: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 31 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford

Where to Watch: SNY, channel 64 on University of Conencticut TV listings

Last Meeting: UConn won 22-2 at home in 1985. The two opponents have met 28 times, with the first meeting coming in 1916.

UConn (0-0, 3-9 last season) vs. FCS opponent Holy Cross (0-0, 4-7 last season)

Key Players: 

UConn’s QB: David Pindell

Pindell, a junior transfer from Lackawanna Community College, will make his Division I debut Thursday as the leader of the UConn offense. Pindell won the quarterback competition, and will be backed up by Bryant Shirreffs. Pindell can make plays with his arm and his legs, and will take the reins of a newly-installed up-tempo offense.

Holy Cross’s QB: Peter Pujals

Before suffering an injury last season, Pujals oversaw a high-powered offense that averaged 480 yards per game. If he’s fully healthy Thursday, the UConn defense will have a relatively lively challenge on their hands.

UConn’s RB: Arkeel Newsome

The shifty back saw sporadic usage under Bob Diaco’s watch, but with an entirely new offensive look, he should find the ball in his hands early and often. Against a porous Holy Cross defense, Newsome may be running wild from day one.

Talking Points

The Season Opener: The Huskies are 11-4 in season openers since jumping to Division I-A in 2002, and hold a 54-62-2 record all-time. Last season, UConn topped FCS opponent Maine 24-21 in their season opener at Rentschler Field.

Aye Aye, Captain: UConn will not be led by captains this season, but a 10-man leadership council selected by the coaches that represents most of the team’s positional units. This week’s game captains, from the council: tight end Tommy Myers, linebacker Junior Joseph and running back Jason Thompson.

Fatukasi on Watch Lists: Redshirt senior defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi has been named to three watch lists: The Wuerffel Trophy, college football’s premier award for community service, The Outland Trophy, awarded to the top interior lineman in FBS, and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given to the best defensive player in college football.

Other Watch Lists: Senior linebacker Junior Joseph has been nominated for the Butkus Award, senior tight end Alec Bloom has been nominated for the John Mackey Award, redshirt senior quarterback Bryant Shirreffs has been nominated for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and senior linebacker Vontae Diggs has been nominated for the 2017 All-State AFCA Good Works Team.

The Randy Report

On Holy Cross: “Good athletes at running back and wide receiver, and a pretty experienced offensive line with three seniors. Defensively, they’re a 4-3 scheme that is very well-coordinated and they play well together.”

On making his official return to the sidelines: “It’s not going to be any different because it’s not about me… it’s about those kids… there’s going to be a lot of people in the stands that are there to support us, and were here before, and I appreciate that very, very much.”


Tyler Keating is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at tyler.keating@uconn.edu. He tweets @tylerskeating.