This is the ninth 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.
Harold Landry is a beast. A monster. A freak of nature. Pretty much every hyperbole you can use to describe him, he’s there. And he’s also right there, in the backfield, in your quarterback’s face every time he tries to throw the ball. He’s quick, he’s relentless, and he’ll be right by your offensive tackle before he knows what has happened.
In Landry’s first three years at Boston College, he earned almost every accolade possible at his position. He led the NCAA in both sacks (16) and forced fumbles (7) in 2016, achieved All-ACC honors, and was put on the Nagurski Award watch list, an award given out to the best defensive player in the country.
He could’ve been a high selection in the 2017 NFL draft, but he chose to return for his senior season with his sights set on becoming a first-round pick.
Landry isn’t the tallest or fastest edge rusher in the league, but what sets him apart are his hands and his football intelligence. He’s got strong, fast hands, and just when the offensive tackle thinks he has him, he’ll punch him, he’ll get rid of him, and before you know it he’s in your QB’s face.
Watch here as Landry works against Clemson in 2016. He gets a quick jump off the ball and before the tackle even has a chance to engage him, he recognizes the pass play, stones the tackle, rips around and gets in Deshaun Watson’s face.
Landry isn’t just a pass-rush specialist either, his recognition skills and quick feet make him excellent against the run.
In this play, Landry recognizes that since he’s not being blocked, he’s probably being read by the QB in an option scheme. He squeezes the gap exactly like he’s supposed to, then uses his athleticism to get out into open space and hunt down Watson.
Harold Landry might be the most elite defensive player the Huskies face this year, and they will have to pull out all the stops to protect first-year starter David Pindell from Landry’s onslaught of pass-rushing moves when they face the Eagles at Fenway Park on November 18.
Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.