Fresh off a 49-7 drubbing at the hands of American Athletic Conference foe Cincinnati, the 1-4 Huskies will travel to Memphis to take on the 3-2 Tigers.
Memphis will be the first team the Huskies have faced this season with a digit in the loss column. Their 40-24 loss against Tulane last week was the Tiger’s worst showing of the season. In what’s been a recurring theme for Memphis all season, the defense was porous, letting their opponent have their way almost all game long. A week after letting South Alabama carve them up for 360 yards through the air, they let Tulane rack up 318 rushing yards.
You would think that would be good news for The Univ. of Conn.’s (UConn) offense which features dual-threat quarterback David Pindell under center. However, Memphis actually did a solid job containing Tulane’s Jonathan Banks, a quarterback with a comparable playing style to Pindell.
If there’s a route to a UConn victory, it will likely start with getting the running game going early. Against a Memphis defense that looks soft up front, it would be a great opportunity to unleash Kevin Mensah. The sophomore running back has only crossed the 100-yard threshold once this season, against UConn’s only non-FBS opponent.
It’s also a chance for the Huskies’ defense to prove they shouldn’t be relegated to the local high school league. Forced to start at least eight freshmen throughout most of the season, the Huskies’ defense has attracted national attention for their struggles. The Huskies’ defense currently ranks 129 out of a possible 129 out of FBS teams in total defense. This is due to a mix of their youth and the fact that over half their schedule consists of teams that currently tout a top-20 scoring offense, statistical boost from having played the Huskies aside.
That number will become four this Saturday against Memphis. Still though, Memphis hasn’t exactly been running up the score against the Ohio States of the world. They’ve put up 50 points against FCS opponents Mercer and South Alabama (and also FBS-opponent Georgia State who is, in fact, not good) but have floundered against opponents like Navy and Tulane.
UConn’s roster will also be a little more depleted than it has in previous weeks. This is by design though.
UConn entered this week not only preparing for Memphis, but for the future as well. A new NCAA rule allows players who appeared in four games or less to maintain another season of eligibility if they don’t suit up again in the season. With this in mind, head coach Edsall announced this week that eight freshmen, including receiver Heron Maurisseau, defensive lineman Pierre DeVaughn and offensive lineman Christian Haynes should consider their first collegiate seasons complete.
Still, UConn’s defense touts more than enough freshmen as is that Saturday’s game in Memphis is still a test for the state of the program. The Tigers’ offense is likely not as great as it looks on paper. Their defense leaves much to be desired. If the Huskies still look like a team that doesn’t belong on the same field as their opponent, it might be time to sound the alarms.
UConn and Memphis will kick off at 7:00 pm Saturday at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Bryan Lambert is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org