Michael Logan: The UConn Huskies had a tough season last year, no doubt about it. Finishing with a record of 3-9, good for last in the East portion of the American Conference. Not much to be optimistic about, right? Well, the Huskies are working on laying down a foundation for a sustainable future. The offense was impressive last season, under the now-departed Rhett Lashlee. As noted in Luke Swanson and Bryan Lambert’s Freshman Issue article for the Daily Campus, the offense climbed from 120th-82nd in yards per play. The Huskies will have to maintain a high-energy offense, and I expect them to be able to accomplish that, which is why I predict the 2018 Huskies will go over the 3.5 win mark and capture five wins.
Luke Swanson: It is true that another year in defensive coordinator Billy Crocker’s system might benefit that side of the ball. New offensive coordinator John Dunn has a bunch of fun toys to play with on offense in receivers Hergy Mayala and Keiyon Dixon, as well as running backs Kevin Mensah and Zavier Scott, all behind an experienced offensive line.
However, it’s entirely possible that all this improvement doesn’t translate to more wins than last year.
Logan: UConn has thrived for decades with the underdog mentality in many of their sports programs and if Edsall can get this team to buy into his message, then we should see them take a step in the right direction. No. 21 UCF will most likely dismantle the Huskies on opening night Thursday in Storrs, and in week two, Boise St. should handle the Huskies.
However, they take on URI, which UConn should be able to handle and then they take on old Big East rival Syracuse. It is a game that the team has likely circled on their calendar. If they can pull off a win in the Carrier Dome, the Huskies should be able to ride some more momentum into the next few weeks. This season will be another step in the right direction for their rebuild, and even though it will be painful at points, I do expect to see progress and I believe that will be shown in the wins and losses column.
Swanson: Per Bill Connelly’s S&P+ predictions UConn is only favored in one out of 12 games this season, when they host URI. The next two closest games on the schedule are on weeks eight and 11 against UMass and East Carolina, so the Huskies can grab their next two wins there, I’m just not optimistic about them getting much beyond that.
The Syracuse game really comes down to whether their star quarterback Eric Dungey is injured, as they play an entirely different team with him off the field. UConn gets the Orange early in the season, however, so I wouldn’t count on it.
Even if UConn does steal one against old rivals Cincinnati or Syracuse, they could still slip up against East Carolina or even UMass, as they are a young team. I do think that four or five wins is a possibility, but I wouldn’t bet on it (for entertainment purposes only, of course).