The Syracuse University football program is in need of a victory Saturday as it visits the University of Connecticut for a Big East Conference contest at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT (noon on ESPNU). The Orange (5-3, 1-2 Big East) can prevent its first losing streak and become bowl eligible with a victory against the Huskies (3-5, 1-2), who are led by SU's former head coach Paul Pasqualoni.
If you're a Syracuse Orange fan that doesn't know much about UConn, here's a brief scouting report on the Huskies:
Though Syracuse fans may not know much about UConn's football program, they know a ton about its head coach. Pasqualoni spent 14 years at SU as its head coach and led them to nine bowl appearances (6-3). In 2004, Pasqualoni was fired after a 6-6 season and a bunch of mediocre campaigns. Pasqualoni, who bounced around the NFL for a few season as a coordinator and assistant coach, was named UConn's new headman in January after Randy Edsal bolted for the University of Maryland.
Rightly so, this game is being nicknamed the Pasqualoni Bowl.
There hasn't been much to cheer about this year for UConn fans, however, three weeks ago (Oct. 15), the Huskies collected a scrappy 16-10 victory over the University of South Florida. But, their non-conference victories over the University of Buffalo, 17-3, and Fordham University, 35-3, do not impress anybody.
UConn has lost three of its last four games, including a 43-16 thumbing at West Virginia University, Oct. 8, and a 35-20 rout at the University of Pittsburgh, Oct. 26.
This season, the Achilles' heel of the Huskes has been their offense, which is ranked last out of the eight-team Big East in total yards per game (319.8) and second-to-last in points per game (22.0). UConn has been hurt by inconsistent quarterback play from junior Johnny McEntee -- the Huskies rank last in the league in pass offense (203.11-passing yards per game). Freshman Scoot McCummings has been featured a lot out of the Wildcat formation.
Meanwhile, the Huskies do have a weapon in freshman running back Lyle McCombs, who enters the contest with five straight 100-yard performances and is second in the league in rushing (103.62-rushing yards per game).
UConn's defense does give up a decent amount of yards (373.4 per game, ranked seventh in the conference), but it does a solid job of keep opponents out of the end zone as the Huskies allow just 22.4 points a game (ranked fourth in the league).
The Huskies' defensive interior features junior defensive end Tevardo Williams, who is ranked third in the league in sacks per game (.69), while senior defensive tackle Kendall Reyes in a master at stopping opponents behind the line of scrimmage (1.38 tackles for loss per game).
Meanwhile, junior linebacker Jory Johnson (8.75 tackles per game, tied for third in the Big East) maybe UConn's most explosive defensive player.
For Syracuse, its Big East schedule has been all about match ups. On Saturday, UConn is a solid match up for the Orange, who will make enough plays to earn a road victory and become bowl eligible for the second straight season.