UConn, looking for first 2-0 start since 2008, hosts Army
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Army coach Jeff Monken and UConn’s Bob Diaco met last season in their first year at those schools and are looking to Saturday’s matchup as measuring-stick game that can show them how far each program has come.
“We’re excited to see basically a year’s worth of work and investment and what that is going to look like and what kinds of results and dividends that investment will pay off,” Diaco said.
The Huskies were just 2-10 a year ago, but are coming off a season-opening 20-15 win over Villanova, an FCS playoff team. UConn is looking for its first 2-0 start since 2008, and just its second win over an FBS team under Diaco.
Army is coming off a 4-8 year that included a 35-21 win over UConn at Yankee Stadium. But the Black Knights lost their season opener 37-35 to Fordham, which also made the FCS playoffs last season.
“You come in and you change schemes, you change terminology — different coaches, different philosophy and expectations — and that takes some time,” Monken said. “I’m sure those are starting to take hold in (Diaco’s) program, just as I know they’re starting to take hold in our program.”
Here some things to watch for as the Black Knights travel to Connecticut:
Angel Santiago, the Army quarterback who rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns in leading the triple-option against UConn last year is gone. But UConn coach Bob Diaco says Army’s sophomore quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw may be more athletic. Bradshaw ran for two touchdowns on 143 rushing yards and finished 6 of 14 in the air for 107 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the loss to Fordham. UConn also has a new starting quarterback. And North Carolina State transfer Bryant Shirreffs also is a run-pass threat. He threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 33 yards last week.
TALE OF TAPE
UConn comes into the game with a significant size advantage up front. Army’s offensive line averages 273 pounds, while UConn’s starting defensive front weighs in at an average of 287 pounds. UConn’s offensive front five average 307 pounds and will be going up against a three-man defensive line that averages less than 258 pounds, with outside linebackers who weigh 221 pounds and 228 pounds.
UConn will be missing 304-pound defensive end Foley Fatukasi for the first half as a result of a punch he threw in the season opener. UConn also had a taunting penalty in the game. Coach Bob Diaco the lack of self-control doesn’t represent the culture of “tough gentlemen” that he is trying to create in the program. “So that’s an area that needs to improve in terms of all the jaw-jacking and loss of self-control. It’s not what we do.”
Army is grieving the Aug. 22 death of 12-year-old Sean Callahan from Mahopac, New York whose battle with a brain tumor had inspired the team. Army made Callahan an official member of its football team before the 2014 season and he was on the sideline during last year’s win against UConn at Yankee Stadium.
Army defensive back Chris Carnegie is hoping for another memorable game against UConn. He had two interceptions in last year’s win for the Black Knights, including one that he returned 99 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown as the Huskies were driving for a possible tying score late in the game.