Coming off a devastating loss to Missouri, the UConn football team has another tough task ahead as it takes on the USF Bulls Saturday afternoon at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.
The Huskies (3-5, 2-2 the American) enter Saturday with another brutal loss to their name, having lost to Mizzou by 40 after losing to Memphis by 39 just three weeks prior. Both the offense and defense struggled mightily in the demoralizing losses to the two Tigers teams, but the Huskies will look to put those games behind them in their last true home game of the season against USF.
The Huskies do have one more “home” game against the Boston College Eagles, but that game will be played at Fenway Park as part of the Gridiron Series.
The matchup with USF was originally scheduled for Sept. 9, but was postponed due to travel concerns in the midst of Hurricane Irma.
UConn enters Saturday’s game as the No. 22-ranked passing offense in the nation, led by quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, who ranks 15th in the nation in passing efficiency. Shirreffs has improved quite a bit under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, a big reason why the Huskies have managed to put up significantly more points on the scoreboard this season.
USF (7-1, 4-1 the American) enter Saturday’s game having suffered their first blemish of the season in a 28-24 home loss to Houston last week. In that game, USF star quarterback Quinton Flowers finished 23-38 passing with 325 yards, but had no touchdowns through the air.
However, Flowers finished with two rushing touchdowns, something UConn should be wary of Saturday, as the dual-threat quarterback is one of the most elusive and explosive players in the nation when he gets out of the pocket and starts running.
UConn fans may already be familiar with Flowers’ line of work after last year’s matchup between the two teams. In that game, Flowers finished with five touchdowns – three rushing, two passing – and 370 yards of total offense, including 157 rushing yards. The Huskies’ defense, led by redshirt senior linebacker Junior Joseph, will need to contain Flowers as best they can if they want to have a chance at the upset.
It won’t necessarily help that the Huskies’ defense will be without senior cornerback Jamar Summers for the first three quarters of the game, a punishment for Summers’ unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the third quarter against Mizzou. Summers made an interception and, in the heat of the moment after being beaten time and time again, threw the ball at the back of the Tigers’ wide receiver.
USF will be looking to put themselves back into New Year’s Six contention with a statement win against the underdog Huskies. UConn, on the other hand, could validate this season as a success with a huge upset over the Bulls. The biggest game of the Huskies’ season to-date takes place 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rent.
Chris Hanna is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @realchrishanna.