Stratton’s Stand: Losing Nathan Carter isn’t the end of the world 

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Yesterday morning, Nathan Carter, UConn’s starting running back from the 2022 football season announced he was transferring on Twitter. This announcement came after his abbreviated sophomore season where he played just four games before facing a season-ending shoulder injury. Carter had a phenomenal start to the year. In the three full games he did play, he racked up an incredible 384 yards to go along with a touchdown. If he continued at this pace for the rest of the regular season, that would give Carter the third best rushing season in UConn history. Add in a bowl game and he’s second.  

Instead, Carter’s career as a Husky will always be a “what if,” never having a chance to do anything meaningful or really win. Fans were looking at next season’s running back room as being loaded. You presumably had Carter leading the charge, but Victor Rosa, Brian Brewton and Devontae Houston would all chip in too. The thing is that even with Carter leaving, it’s not the end of the world. Here’s why. 

Exclusively looking at Carter, it’s silly to act like the program is crashing down with him transferring. Last year he was in a timeshare with Kevin Mensah and although he was the team’s leading rusher, he wasn’t anything particularly special. Carter was heavily hindered by the Huskies’ atrocious offensive line, holding him to under 50 yards a game. In his lone win last year against FCS Yale, he only managed 39 yards on 17 tries, failing to find the end zone. He performed well in losses against Bottom 10 competition, which once again can’t be blamed on him, but these games also can’t be used to support him. 

This year, Carter opened his sophomore campaign with a bang, ripping off 200 all-purpose yards against Utah State. UConn ultimately lost, but it was a breath of fresh air to see them competitive against a team that most thought were much better. He followed it up with 141 yards and a score in a victory over Central Connecticut State, further bolstering his breakout year. He didn’t play particularly well against Syracuse, a top 25 quality team at the time, only managing 71 yards. Then came the Michigan game, where he got injured after a few snaps. 

All of this is to say that Carter is not the key to UConn’s success next season. It would have been nice, sure, but Mora and the Huskies will be just fine. In his 16 career games, the back went 2-14. He was 2-1 against FCS competition and 0-13 against FBS teams. In games that Carter missed this year, UConn went 5-3, including a Power 5 win and a ranked win. They will be just fine.  

The only concern is why Carter left. If it’s because he knows he can start at a Power 5 school, that’s fine. However, if it’s in relation to the departure of running back coach EJ Barthel, then that raises some worries. If that’s the case, then you have to start wondering about the security of the other three running backs. If they leave, then there’s an issue, but if it’s limited to Carter, then it’s no big deal.  

Brewton, who was also a sophomore, raised some eyebrows with his kick returning abilities during his first year in Storrs. He had his signature house-call against Clemson on the opening kickoff, establishing his playmaking ability. He showed flashes this year, but with only 15 attempts, it’s tough to read too far into anything he did.  

Rosa, the pride of Connecticut, had a fantastic freshman year. Taking over as a part of the committee that replaced Carter, Rosa notched 561 yards and nine touchdowns. He had a knack for the end zone and an ability to get those extra few yards, which really helped the Huskies in crunch time of big games. Rosa will likely be the day one starter next year, thanks to his team-leading rushing and 32% share of the team’s total touchdowns.  

Houston is the last returner in the mix, gaining just 23 fewer yards than Rosa on the year. He was by far the most explosive back on the team, averaging two yards per carry more than Rosa. Although he scored just three times, he still looked fantastic. He’ll be right in the mix to start.  

No matter how you look at it, the UConn running back situation is fine so long as nobody else leaves. Carter wasn’t the key to their success, which should help fans feel better about the direction of the team. The Huskies are still very capable and have a chance to build on their success from this year. 

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