Previewing UConn Huskies Ahead Of Utah State Season Opener

Aug 25, 2022, 9:00 AM
UConn Huskies Football Helmet...
View of a Connecticut Huskies helmet during the game between the Huskies and the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium on October 2, 2015 in Provo Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

LOGAN, UT – Season openers always contain a degree of uncertainty, but coming off of a 1-11 season and after installing an entirely new coaching staff, the UConn Huskies are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Former Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks and UCLA Bruins head coach Jim Mora is looking to turn around a program that finished 0-6 on the road in 2021.

“UConn presents some problems because we don’t really know what to expect,” head coach Blake Anderson said. “I’ve been asked several times, ‘How do you prepare for a team, new head coach, new coordinators, really no film to go off of’. That is a real problem. We don’t really know what to expect. We’re gonna have to adjust very quickly.”

The Aggies know they can’t afford to be caught flat footed early against a team with an underwhelming resume.

“We’ll find out early in the game just how they’re gonna play defensively, just what to expect offensively. We have to do a great job adjusting and I think our kids are aware of that. Hopefully we can do that at a level and at a pace that gives us chance to be be competitive. Other than that, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing every day, just getting ready and looking forward to Saturday, right here at home.”

Instead of focusing preparation on what UConn might try to do, Anderson is asking his players to focus on themselves.

“We talked all week about just controlling what we can control, which is us. We want to go out and play clean football. We want to go out and play with great effort. We want to go out and do the things that we were asked to do, and do them well. Avoid the turnovers, avoid the penalties, the big mistake.”

Connecticut Huskies (0-0)

The Huskies return 12 starters, six on each side of the ball, and 57 letter-winners from last season’s 1-11 team.

In 2021, UConn averaged 15.6 points and 265.1 yards of total offense per game (163.8 passing, 101.3 rushing) and allowed 38.5 points and 451.8 yards of total offense (258.0 passing, 193.8 rushing).

The Huskies roster includes four players on award watch lists this fall. Junior LB Jackson Mitchell (Butkus Award Watch List), sophomore RB Nate Carter (Doak Walker Award Watch List), graduate RB Robert Burns (The Wuerffel Trophy Watch List) and graduate LS Tommy Zozus (Patrick Mannelly Award Watch List).

Redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Phommachanh is the only QB on the roster that was with the program last season. He completed 35 of 72 passes for 321 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in three games before an injury cut his season short. The Huskies have a pair of transfer QB’s in redshirt sophomore Ta”Quan Roberson (Penn State) and redshirt sophomore Cale Millen (Northern Arizona). Mora has yet to name a starter for the season opener.

Sophomore running back Nate Carter returns after leading the Huskies in rushing in 2021. Playing in all 12 games, Carter carried the ball 125 times for 578 net yards, averaging 4.6 per carry with two touchdowns. He also added 19 receptions for 127 yards.

UConn returns their top three pass catchers from 2021 as well. Sophomore Keelan Marion led the receiving corps 474 yards on 28 catches, a 16.9 per catch average and five touchdowns. Sophomore Aaron Turner led the team with 33 catches for 232 yards while redshirt sophomore Kevans Clercius caught 27 balls for 283 yards and a score.

Defensively, junior linebacker Jackson Mitchell returns after starting all 12 games in 2021. He totaled 120 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception and two pass breakups.

Week Zero

The Aggies open their 125th season of football at home against the Connecticut Huskies with a 2:05 p.m. (MST) kickoff on Saturday, August 27.

Every Utah State football game can be heard on theΒ KSL Sports ZoneΒ with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White on the call.

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Previewing UConn Huskies Ahead Of Utah State Season Opener