Linebacker Smallwood named Big East Defensive Player of the Week
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 23:09
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Yawin Smallwood was named Big East defensive player of the week this past Monday after playing a key role in UConn’s dominating 37-0 victory against UMass on Aug. 30.
Smallwood made seven tackles, including one sack in the Huskies’ home opener against the Minutemen. His efforts, along with those of the rest of the UConn defense limited UMass to just 59 yards for the entire game. Also, the Minutemen could only manage three first downs against a Husky defensive front that returned nine starters from last season.
Head coach Paul Pasqualoni was happy with Smallwood’s performance in the UMass game and will expect more big things as the season progresses. “This is Yawin’s second year in the position and he’s really starting to get a feel for it,” said Pasqualoni, “He has a much better sense of what the role and the job description is, and he played with confidence and played pretty aggressively.”
Smallwood is coming off a successful 2011 season, which saw him start all 12 games at middle linebacker. Smallwood made 94 tackles, which made him the second leading tackler on the team. In a game against Syracuse last season, Smallwood recorded a career high of 12 tackles to compliment his performance against Western Michigan, where he recorded 10 stops.
This week the Huskies will take on North Carolina State, which is UConn’s first of two games against an ACC opponent. Last weekend the Wolfpack fell to the University of Tennessee 35-21, however N.C. State still boosts a defense that lead the NCAA in interceptions just a year ago.
UConn’s quarterback, Chandler Whitmer, will have to be very careful as to where he throws the ball, i.e. whether it be a long or short pass, against such an aggressive defense. “It’s hard, I don’t know if there’s an exact answer,” said Pasqualoni, “I think that their corners anticipate very well and you have to be very careful.”
During his weekly press conference, Pasqualoni informed us that junior kicker Chad Christen’s range is 47 yards during normal conditions. Christen made three field goals in the game against UMass from 36, 47 and 19 yards respectively.
The Quotable Paul Pasqualoni
“The N.C. State offensive line has four seniors out of five and they have about 100 starts between them; this will be by far our biggest challenge, up front,” said Pasqualoni. “This is a very good offensive line, with very good players…we’ll find out a little bit about ourselves this week.”