Battling the Broncos
UConn to take on Western Michigan after a tough loss last season
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 22:09
The game played a year ago between the UConn Huskies and the Western Michigan Broncos was one that the Huskies would like to forget.
UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said that the game, which the Huskies lost 38-31, was going fairly well until the game reached the fourth quarter.
“You try to learn from it,” Pasqualoni said. “You don’t sit there and get mad. You try to figure it out.”
For starters, the Huskies were making a dramatic late-game push until a red-zone fumble by UConn tight end Ryan Griffin with just 45 seconds remaining. The Broncos then simply held on to the football to seal a victory against the Huskies.
Then there’s the Western Michigan quarterback, Alex Carder, who torched the UConn defense as a junior.
In the 38-31 victory over the Huskies in a game played at Rentschler Field, Carder completed 37 passes for 479 yards and threw five touchdown passes.
Now a senior, Carder is looking to add to his seven touchdowns on the season. The Huskies will be throwing a defense at him that currently ranks No. 11 in the nation in points allowed.
“It’s always a challenge playing an older quarterback,” Paul Pasqualoni said Tuesday at the team’s weekly press conference. “Alex does a pretty good job of engineering and driving the bus.”
Stopping an offense like Western Michigan’s will be tough for UConn without defensive end Jesse Joseph. During last week’s game against Maryland, Joseph injured his Achilles tendon and is going to be out for the remainder of the season.
“When you lose that kind of experience, it’s very hard,” Pasqualoni said. “We’re going to miss everything that he does.”
The Huskies were already going deep into their bench to find defensive linemen, and this week, Pasqualoni said that as many as five defensive ends could be brought into the game for UConn.
On a better note for UConn, cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who didn’t play last week after hurting his hamstring last Thursday, is expected to return.
In addition to getting Wreh-Wilson back, one of the stars of the UConn defense, Yawin Smallwood, continues to have a solid year for the Huskies. Smallwood has 35 tackles and four sacks thus far and was once again named Big East conference player of the week after the game against Maryland.
“I think he’s got a good feel for what he’s seeing, and he’s playing fast,” Pasqualoni said of Smallwood. “He’s playing with confidence and he’s playing fast.”
For UConn’s offense, things continue to move slowly, particularly for quarterback Chandler Whitmer. On the season, Whitmer has thrown for five interceptions and doesn’t have a single touchdown pass despite throwing for 491 yards. Only James Vandeberg of Iowa has thrown for more yards, 593, without a touchdown pass.
Despite the seemingly slow start for the Huskies, Pasqualoni’s optimism has him believing that his offense is capable of turning on the jets at any moment.
“I believe we’re going to put up 500 yards every week,” he said.
As far as special teams go, Pasqualoni was more than pleased with the way that Nick Williams has been returning punts and kicks, and he thinks that the Huskies’ special teams game has been rock solid with the exception of coverage. He thinks that so far, the UConn coverage units have been sub-par and that as a unit, the players need to do a better job of covering the field after kickoffs and punts.