UConn and the Bearcats face each other in primetime matchup at Rentschler Field.
The weekly show on UConnHuskies.com previews Saturday's Rutgers game
T.J. Weist will make his debut as Husky interim head coach.
Hank Hughes returns to spot as defensive coordinator.
Preview This Weekend's Football Action at Rutgers on Saturday
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The 2012 season saw the Husky defense ranked as one of the finest in school history as the unit ranked seventh in the country in rushing, ninth in total defense and 19th in scoring defense. Defensive end Trevardo Williams was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.
In 2011, UConn's rushing defense was ranked fourth in the country and first in the BIG EAST. Defensive lineman Kendall Reyes was named First Team All-BIG EAST for the second year in a row. In 2010, his defense was ranked 28th in the country and fourth in the BIG EAST in pass efficiency defense and was also ranked 35th in the country in scoring defense. Following the 2009 season, he was named the Assistant Coach of the Year by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston.
The UConn defense finished the 2008 season ranked sixth in the country and first in the BIG EAST Conference in total defense at 278.00 yards per game and was also ninth in passing efficiency defense (first in BIG EAST), 16th in rushing defense (second in BIG EAST) and 22nd in scoring defense (third in BIG EAST).
Under Hughes, UConn led the BIG EAST in total defense in each of its first two seasons in the league. The Huskies finished seventh in the nation in 2006, averaging 297.1 yards per game in total defense while also ranking fourth in passing defense and seventh in passing efficiency defense. The Huskies used their stout defense to gain the 2007 BIG EAST Championship with the team ranking in the top 17 nationally in passing defense, passing efficiency defense and scoring defense.
In 2002, the Huskies' first Division I-A season, Hughes defense ranked fifth in the nation in passing defense (160.4 yards per game), 18th in passing efficiency defense (102.44 rating) and 19th in total defense (316.1 yards per game). The Huskies ranked 23rd nationally by forcing 32 turnovers.
UConn continued this defensive success in 2004 as the team led the BIG EAST in both total and passing defense en route to the program's first ever bowl berth, a 39-10 victory over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl. The leader of Hughes' defense, Alfred Fincher, became the first Husky drafted in 11 years.
The 2006 season saw defensive tackle Rhema Fuller become the first Husky to ever be a finalist for the Draddy Trophy.
Before coming to UConn, Hughes was the defensive line coach at the University of Memphis from 1998-2000. The Tigers finished the 2000 season as the No. 1 rated defense in Division I-A against the run (72.7 rushing yards allowed per game), fifth in the nation in total defense (275.3 yards per game) and 14th in scoring defense (18.1 points allowed per game).
Hughes is familiar with New England, having served at four different schools in the region. In his most recent New England stop prior to UConn, Hughes worked at Harvard (1994-97) where he was the assistant head coach, defensive line coach and special teams coordinator. He was defensive line coach at Cincinnati in 1993 and was an assistant coach for the Montreal Machine of the World League of American Football in 1991 and 1992, serving as linebacker coach in 1991 and adding defensive coordinator duties in 1992.
Hughes was the linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator at James Madison from 1985-90, served as linebackers and defensive line coach at Lafayette from 1982-84 and also coached the defensive line at Northeastern (1981), Springfield College (1980) and Albany (1979).
Hughes is a 1979 graduate of Springfield College with a bachelor's degree in physical education. He played for four years at linebacker and was a two-year starter. A native of Albany, N.Y., Hank and his wife, Jackie, reside in Tolland, Conn., with their four children, Raquel Marie, Henry, Jack and Charles.
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