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Western Michigan - UConn Preview: An Interview With The UConn Blog

Let start out by saying that the title is not a typo.  That's the name of their blog.


Anyways, when Western Michigan travels to Hartford tomorrow to take on the Huskies of Connecticut, they will be toting high expectations.  UConn is by far a shell of their former selves.  You know, the ones that beat Notre Dame and made it to the Fiesta Bowl last year?  Western seems to be running on all cylinders right now.  Bronco nation is dying for a big non-conference win.  The last one we got was in 2008, so we are due.   And even if this doesn't define as "huge" in reality, it's better than beating a non-AQ school NOT named TCU or Boise State.

Since UConn is hidden WAY up there in the northeast, I decided to call on the folks at The UConn Blog to help me out with the game preview.  They sent me Kevin Meacham.  Feel free to check out their blog.  Just click right here.  And to check out what I had to say about their questions, just click here.


Me:  You lost your coach, your starting QB, and your star running back.  4 games into the season, how do you feel UConn looks?

KM:  I should note from the outset that I'm only sad about losing one of those three things. The coach, Randy Edsall had pretty much reached his ceiling of perpetual 8-5ness, as lucky Maryland fans are going to find out over the next few years. The quarterback, Zach Frazer, was arguably the worst starting quarterback in the FBS last year. The running back, Jordan Todman...well, he was awesome. I miss him.

But as for how the team looks this year? It looks non-good.

The quarterback position is as unproductive as it's ever been for UConn since Dan Orlovsky graduated in 2004, which is saying something. The offensive line isn't as good as it was last year, and so far hasn't been physical enough to deal with eight and nine in the box. Our receivers aren't playmakers. This has been a bad, bad offensive football team through three games (4 TD in 3 non-FCS games, and not exactly against Alabama, Oklahoma and LSU).

UConn's defense is pretty solid at every level, and they've been the most entertaining part of the season. The D coordinator, Don Brown, is a mad genius who would probably blitz his own mother. Unfortunately, the Huskies are prone to giving up big plays; on the flip side, they have been ball-hawks and have scored almost as many touchdowns as the offense (2 in 3 games).    

Me:  Who is/are the star player(s) for UConn this year, or is it just a mixed bag of "OK" players?

KM:  We used to be able to count on our RB to be the super-duper star, but that's not the case this year (the RB, Lyle McCombs, is perfectly adequate and would do just fine on a better team, but so far hasn't shown the same team-carrying properties as Todman).

Instead, our best players are probably our defensive tackle Kendall Reyes, who is a 300-pound monster (who can also back-flip if need be), and linebacker Sio Moore.

But mostly it's a huge group of OK players, especially on offense. Serviceable guys who would look a lot better with a good quarterback.    

Me:  Sounds rough.  Now for the mandatory realignment question.  Where do you think you guys will be at next year given all the recent moves, grumblings, and mumblings?

KM:  Hey, this might be a conference game soon!  kills self

I'm really not sure. The Big East isn't viable for much longer, and UConn's president has been out there essentially saying "We want out, and we want the ACC to take us."

We're all praying that the ACC throws us a life-raft, not because we have any great affinity for the ACC (particularly the odious wanker college in Chestnut Hill, Mass.), but because they're UConn's only realistic option to stick with the big-money schools. (And because hoops would be amazing.)

But an invite from the ACC may not come for years (until Notre Dame and Texas definitively tell the conference no) or may not ever. Based on the latest rumors of the Big XII expanding, UConn could probably end up in some kind of hideous Conference USA/Big East frankenstein monster playing Central Florida, East Carolina, USF and Rutgers.

In my ideal world, I would prefer to stay in the Big East as is before shuffling off to join our frenemies at Syracuse and Pitt.    

Me:  Plenty of room (not really) in the MAC.  Just can't go undefeated every year in basketball.  But staying on subject about the MAC, you guys just beat fellow MAC team Buffalo.  However, you only scored 17 points on a team that we here at The Belt think is a MAC bottom-feeder this year.  Do you feel like UConn can do better this week?

KM:  Don't remind me. Ugh. Long answer, yes with an if. Short answer, no with a but.

The missing piece of the puzzle is the quarterback situation. If Johnny "Trick Shot" McEntee - seriously, we're pretty sure he's the starting QB now because of this YouTube video. Last week was, frankly, McEntee's first non-awful performance (12-for-21, 200+ yards, 2 TD) of the season. Those numbers need to be the baseline if UConn is going to have any chance to win. So yes, we will do better if McEntee does better. On the other hand...

WMU, if they're smart, will load up with defenders in the box and go 1-on-1 with receivers. Teams have been doing that to UConn for years, but previously we had running backs (NFLers Todman and Donald Brown) who could make the most of it. We don't have that now...UConn actually needs consistently solid QB play. I'm scared.

Me:  That video scared me a little bit.  Then I remembered the powers of editing and what pressure does in-game to a young QB.  But lets say McEntee has a great game, and UConn wins the game.  Western is now 2-3 and I'm threatening to jump off the bridge to the ice arena into oncoming traffic.  What do you say to talk me off the ledge?

KM:  Hey, it's not all bad! I'm sure Kalamazoo is lovely in the fall. And you're still unbeaten in MAC play! And hey, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan and Northern Michigan are totes jealous of your region of Michigan. You know it, they know it.

I'll bring over some popcorn, a talking-dog movie and some Barry Sanders highlights (I assume Lionsmania is running wild in Kalamazoo). We'll get through this, buddy.    

After we did this, I let Kevin know how much of a Colts fan I am, and how 2008 Lions-esque I feel right now. . . .

Me:  Sanders was so smooth.  Lets wrap this up.  What's your honest prediction for the game?

KM:  Honestly, I'm not optimistic. UConn's offense is an absolute mess. UConn's defense is good, but we'll be missing our best cornerback (Blidi-Wreh Wilson, the recipient of an official TheUConnBlog mancrush) for a few weeks. UConn's special teams are at times great (our kicker, Dave Teggart) and at times awful (our return game). They are ripe for the picking by any of the eight teams left on their schedule. 

We're every team's winnable game at this point. We are not smiles times in UConn country, at least not until basketball practice begins.

All I can do is try and reverse jinx the crap out of your team, so: Western Michigan 23, UConn 16.