USF will be visiting the Huskies at Rentschler this Saturday for a conference matchup between the two 1-3 teams.
UConn is coming off of three straight losses, with the most recent coming against UCF. The Huskies took a 56-21 shellacking in which quarterback Steven Krajewski went down with a broken clavicle.
“Steven was having trouble getting his pads off and something was bothering him,” head coach Randy Edsall said. “After getting the x-rays, we found out that he fractured his clavicle.”
Krajewski was named the starter following a 38-3 loss to Indiana that true freshman Jack Zergiotis started under center. Going forward, Edsall says that Mike Beaudry will be the starting quarterback.
Beaudry started the first game of the season against Wagner, which stands to be the Huskies’ lone win through a third of the season. Beaudry sustained an injury at the end of the Wagner game, so Zergiotis took over the starting role for the next game against Illinois. Zergiotis started that game and the Indiana game before Krajewski took over for the UCF game. Now, the carousel spins back towards Beaudry.
“Mike’s experience being in that game helped him, he’s learned things from that game and you hope for him to be better this game,” Edsall said.
Against Wagner, Beaudry threw 14-21 for 158 yards and an interception, while also scrambling for a score. After getting out to a lead early, UConn mostly relied on the ground game and had their way with the FCS school. As a team, the Huskies rushed for 234 yards and all three of their touchdowns that game.
“If we’re going to be successful offensively, we have to be able to run the football,” Edsall said. “We have a guy that has shown he is more than capable of running the ball and handling a good load, and there are some things that Kevin [Mensah] can do to really enhance the productivity that he has.”
Mensah is clearly the focal point of UConn’s offense. The third-year running back has rushed for 328 of the team’s 440 rushing yards this season and has two games of over 120 rushing yards already under his belt. Expect UConn to hit USF hard early on with their reliable power back.
USF, on the other hand, doesn’t have a bell-cow back that they feed the ball to. Instead, they have a few backs that give you all sorts of different looks. They don’t have a single rusher with over 100 rushing yards this season, but they have four guys with over 60.
“They have speed, they’re athletic and they’re talented,” Edsall said. “We have to make sure we are playing with good, sound fundamentals and technique because they have guys on their offense that can break a big play on you.”
Two guys on that offense who the Huskies need to make sure don’t break off big plays are Mitchell Wilcox and Johnny Ford. Senior tight end Wilcox has recorded 10 catches for 178 yards and three touchdowns, while Ford has 13 catches for 149 yards and two scores in just three games.
Wilcox and Ford provide a stark contrast to each other with their builds and play styles. Wilcox is a 6-foot-5-inch strong and athletic tight end who can punish smaller defensive backs with his size or slower linebackers with his speed. Ford is a full foot shorter than Wilcox and often runs routes in the slot and out of the backfield. He’s a quick, shifty ball carrier in space with the ability to make tacklers miss after the catch. Tyler Coyle and the rest of UConn’s secondary will have their hands full with these two on Saturday.
As usual with UConn home games, it will be played at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field and will begin at noon.
Sean Janos is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @seanjanos.