Connecticut Huskies — 2018 Syracuse Football preview

lemon uconn
Alec Lemon scores a touchdown against UCONN. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

As we countdown to kickoff in August, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each week over the summer. SU will continue its 2018 non-conference schedule when it plays the Connecticut Huskies on Sept. 22.

NEW OC: Head coach Randy Edsall, now in his second stint at UConn, is attempting to remake an offense that was the worst in Div. I football in 2016 and was merely awful in 2017 (103rd in FBS). To do that, he’s turning to a first-time offensive coordinator and the Huskies’ fifth coordinator in the last five years. John Dunn, most recently an assistant coach with the NFL’s Chicago Bears, takes over for the departed Rhett Lashlee, who took the offensive coordinator position at SMU. Lashlee instituted a n0-huddle offense last season, and Dunn wants to play the same philosophy. “His philosophy of being a multiple, no huddle offense that attacks using multiple tempos, personnel groupings and formations defines our vision offensively,” Edsall said in a statement.

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WHO TO WATCH FOR: Back in 2017, quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and David Pindell were locked in a battle for the starting quarterback position before Pindell won. But the Pindell era lasted all of one game, as he struggled against Holy Cross, throwing 19 for 28 passes for 154 yards before being replaced by Shirreffs. Shirreffs held the starting position until the remaining three games, when he was forced out of action with a concussion. Pindell will be throwing to a trio of experienced wide receivers in Tyraiq Beals, Hergy Mayala, and Quayvon Skanes. On defense, sophomore linebacker Darrian Beavers returns after his freshman campaign where he played in all 12 games, totaling 15 tackles and 3.0 sacks. He’ll need to make up for the loss of linebacker Junior Joseph, and also the Huskies’ front three in its 3-3-5 system.

PREDICTION: As bad as Connecticut’s offense was in 2016, its defense was just as bad in 2017, allowing 333.9 passing yards per game (last in the FBS) and 37.9 ppg. Edsall’s returning some key components, so there will be room for improvement, but it’s going to take a few more seasons to get UConn back to the level it was before he left. SYRACUSE 27, UConn 10.

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Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.