UConn will take on the University of Indiana on the road this Saturday following their bye week, and head coach Randy Edsall is confident that his guys will be ready for the challenge.
“On the road, the field is still the same width and the same length, and we will block out any distractions and look to get another win,” Edsall said at his Tuesday press conference.
This will be the first time that the Huskies (1-1) will play away from home this season.
True freshman quarterback Jack Zergiotis is set to make the second start of his young college career. According to Edsall, having the week off to work with Zergiotis will help him be ready for Saturday.
“I think the bye was good for us,” Edsall said. “We were able to play two games, and with the change we made at quarterback, it gave us another week to help Jack [Zergiotis] get better.”
Zergiotis was also thankful for the bye but will be careful to be sure his guys start the game strong.
“It [the bye] helped us a lot in regards to making corrections,” Zergiotis said. “Hopefully we don’t come out flat against Indiana because we’ve had such a long rest period, but I think we’ll be fine.”
Zergiotis completed 21-31 of his passes for 275 yards, no scores and two interceptions in his debut against Illinois, which resulted in a 31-23 loss.
Indiana (2-1) too has been getting a different quarterback accustomed to the starting role early in the season. Game One starter Michael Penix Jr. left the second game of the season with an undisclosed injury.
Up to that point, Penix Jr. was playing pretty well. Through one and a half games, he was 38-60 for 523 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also added nine rush attempts for 79 yards.
Backup signal caller Peyton Ramsey took over for Penix Jr. about midway through the second game of the season and completed an impressive 13-14 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
The next game was a different story, as Ramsey was tasked with leading Indiana against No. 6 Ohio State. In this game, Ramsey threw 19-33 for 162 yards, no scores and one interception.
It is currently unclear whether Penix Jr. or Ramsey will start for Indiana, as Penix Jr. is day-to-day and will be a game-time decision.
Regardless of who starts under center, UConn will have to be ready to stop an aggressive passing attack from the Hoosiers. Indiana has thrown the ball more times than they’ve rushed it in every game this season, including a 52-0 blowout of Eastern Illinois.
It is hard to get a read on whether this is good or bad news for the Huskies. In the first game of the season against Wagner, UConn only allowed 82 passing yards and no scores through the air, while allowing 103 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Against Illinois, on the other hand, UConn surrendered 227 passing yards and four touchdowns but only gave up 130 yards and no scores on the ground. However, it is worth noting that cornerback and defensive captain Tyler Coyle recorded a pick-six early in this game.
Aggressive play by UConn’s defensive backs will be critical to shutting down Indiana’s strong passing attack.
On the other side of the ball, Kevin Mensah and Art Thompkins will be responsible for keeping Indiana’s defense honest and opening things up for Zergiotis.
In the first game of the season, the duo ran 53 times for 235 yards and two touchdowns. In the following game against Illinois, they only ran 22 times for 41 yards and one score.
The rushing struggles against Illinois can probably be traced back to the early injury sustained by senior right tackle Matt Peart. He went down on the second play of the game and didn’t return for the rest of the day.
As one of UConn’s veteran leaders, Peart is not only instrumental to the Huskies’ offensive line but to the whole team. After having the bye to rest and recover, Peart will be back and completely healthy for Saturday, which will hopefully get UConn’s ground game back on track.
UConn and Indiana will face off in Bloomington, Indiana Saturday at noon.
Sean Janos is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.