OK, so let's recap where the Broncos are right now. After getting a non-conference schedule many Bronco fans though WMU could go 3-1, they are 1-2 and could potentially drop all 3 BCS games with a loss Saturday against UConn. However, it's time to turn this around, get to .500, and head into MAC play with some momentum. It'll be hard, and but we can do it.
Since we know WMU fairly well, we have to learn about UConn, right? Well The UConn Blog (that's their name, I'm not being mean, I swear) helped me out and sent Andrew Porter who answered a few questions for me. I even answered some questions for them! I'm perfect for my personal goal of not doing a damn thing for previewing games this year (heh heh). 8 more to go! *ahem* oh yes, the questions. They are below the jump!BNG: Last season, Johnny McEntee had 300 yards and 4 TDs against us, had that cool trick shot video, and was the QB for you guys if I remember right. Now he isn't starting? What gives? Who is this Chandler Whitmer?
AP: True story: after reading this question I went back and looked up the stats from last year's game. I just refused to believe them. The Western Michigan game was McEntee's high water mark and really his only water mark as he looked overmatched for much of last year. Apparently being a D1 QB requires a bit more technical prowess than what one needs to throw a ball into a trash can from 50 yards away. Who knew?
Whitmer seems to have the tools to be a successful QB -- he certainly looks better than any QB UConn has had before, but he's only three games in to his FBS career (he's a JUCO transfer) and he's played like it, trying to force too many things, which has led to turnovers and a dearth of touchdowns.
Whitmer also shares some time with Scott McCummings, who UConn brings in to run a run-focued wildcat package. The wildcat tends to infuriate UConn fans (EDITOR's NOTE: cats and dogs don't get along. Get it?), but it worked last week for more or less the first time ever, so who knows.
BNG: Speaking of last season's game, Lyle McCombs had a decent game as well (24 car., 136 yds). Do you expect a repeat performance this season in Kalamazoo?
AP: I'd love to see it, but I don't expect it as UConn has struggled to get consistent line play through their first few games. McCombs' numbers are way down this year. He looked better against Maryland last week, but UConn has had trouble getting anything going on the ground, especially inbetween the tackles. When McCombs gets space he can be dangerous, but UConn needs to get him that space.
BNG: Enough of last season, let's talk about this one. How do you guys look? Do you think you can return to Big East Champion form?
AP: Well, we're better than last season, which is nice, but there are certainly struggles. The defense is incredibly (more on that in a minute) but the offense hasn't been able to hold up their end of the bargain. But there are still a few weeks before the conference schedule starts. If UConn can find a way to get consistent offensive production they'll be able to make some noise in the conference, though I doubt they'll win it -- it seems like Louisville's to lose.
BNG: Statistically speaking, your offense is bad (100th+ in both rushing and passing yards, 94th in points scored), but the defense is good (11th in points scored, 5th passing and rushing defense). What makes this defense so stout?
AP: A lot of senior leadership, combined with some terrific speed and a very aggressive play-calling style. The Huskies blitz a lot, especially with a lead, and are extremely effective at getting into the backfield. If you want some names to focus on they'll be Yawin Smallwood and Sio Moore, who are two thirds of a terrific linebacking unit. Smallwood was named the national linebacker of the week last week and has been an absolute terror. Defensive end Trevardo Williams is also a force to be reckoned with. He runs a 4.4 40 and already has 4.5 sacks this year.
BNG: OK, one more question about last year. That game ended with an fumble by the UConn TE in the redzone on a poor carry (and good defensive play). What's his name, is he still around, and is he really good outside of that play? The Broncos owe him a fruit basket or something.
AP: That would be Ryan Griffin, who actually is quite the tight end. He's had a quiet start to the year -- only three catches so far -- but he's splitting time with John Delahunt which has reduced his numbers. Both of them are quality players though and are often deployed together, so keep an eye on them.
BNG: Give me a prediction for the game. Remember, you head to the confines of Waldo Stadium, where the Broncos haven't lost since 2010.
AP: No disrespect to Waldo Stadium, but I'm going to go out on a limb and chalk some of that up to the opponents who have visited their in the last year. I think UConn will be looking for revenge this year and they'll take this one. I'll go with 28-14 Huskies.