The Huskies will play East Carolina Saturday afternoon for Senior Day at The Rent.
Head coach Randy Edsall said there will be 15 seniors playing their final home game as a Husky, and they will be honored in a pregame ceremony. Those seniors are: Ben Bonvicini, Noel Brouse, Ardell Brown, Cam DeGeorge, A.J. Garson, Brett Graham, Eddie Hahn, Nino Leone, Stanley Little, Andrew Migliaccio, Donevin O’Reilly, Jeff Sidebotham, Art Thompkins and captains Matt Peart and Eli Thomas.
“I have the utmost respect for the young men who play this game and play here at the University of Connecticut,” Edsall said. “They’re going to take a lot of good memories and good times with them.”
The Huskies (2-8) are coming off two straight losses by over 40 to two very good teams: Navy and Cincinnati. ECU (3-7) isn’t necessarily on the same level as those teams and may even be on the same level as UConn, so it might be a competitive football game.
ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers is clearly the focal point of the offense. The sophomore signal caller has been hot through the last two games, throwing for 1,033 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one interception over that span. He has 2,705 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season. Edsall is well aware of the threat Ahlers poses.
“They have good athletes and spread you out. The quarterback knows where to go with the ball,”
Edsall said. “They can get separation, put a good scheme together and have a guy that can throw it and understands where to go with the ball.”
For comparison, all UConn quarterbacks have combined for 1,909 yards and 10 touchdowns all season. But with a pair of great running backs, a big, strong offensive line and a true freshman under center, the Huskies lean more on their rushing game.
Kevin Mensah is within striking distance of his second straight season with over 1,000 rushing yards. He needs just 82 yards through these last two games. Seeing as he’s averaging 120 rushing yards per game, I’d say the chances are pretty good that he eclipses the century mark Saturday.
“They’re going to be physical, they’re going to be fired up. I think it’s going to be a really good game and a good opportunity to show out,” Mensah said.
UConn’s offense doesn’t move unless Mensah moves it, so he will surely get a ton of touches this weekend behind an offensive line that is led by graduating senior Matt Peart.
“Ever since I got here he’s just been a leader, he loves this game,” Mensah said about Peart. “Everything that he does on and off the field, it really impacts everybody on the team.”
Peart, a redshirt senior, has been with UConn for five seasons, playing the last four of them. With NFL mock drafts predicting he may go as high as the second or third round in the 2020 NFL Draft, Peart has received invites to the Shrine Bowl, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the coveted Senior Bowl.
“Matt is a guy that I think really epitomizes what you’re looking for in a student athlete at any college,” Edsall said. “The young man is a good student, does things the right way, he’s gotten better each and every year culminating to right now. He’s playing the best football of his career.”
One may assume Jack Zergiotis will be back under center for UConn, but Edsall said on Tuesday that Steven Krajewski is healthy after injuring his non-throwing arm collarbone this past September.
“Steven Krajewski has been cleared to practice and play. We’re going to monitor that as we go through the week and see where we are,” Edsall said.
It’s unclear whether Krajewski will be the starter even if he is healthy, but Edsall hasn’t seemed particularly impressed by Zergiotis’ play lately. I’d predict that if Krajewski is ready to go, he’ll start the game under center.
UConn and ECU will face off Saturday at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Senior Day ceremony is at 11:45 a.m., and the game will begin at 12 p.m.