EAST HARTFORD- UConn opens its 119th season of football competition tonight when the Huskies face off against the Holy Cross Crusaders at 7:30 p.m. at Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.
UConn is 11-4 in season openers since making the jump to then-Division I-A in 2002. UConn has won 11 of its 14 season openers at Rentschler Field (2003-Indiana, 2004-Murray State, 2005-Buffalo, 2006-Rhode Island, 2008-Hofstra, 2010-Texas Southern, 2011-Fordham, 2012-UMass, 2015-Villanova, 2015-Maine) and also downed Duke, 45-14, in Durham, to open the 2007 season and Ohio University, 23-16 in Athens, to open 2009. UConn’s five FBS era opening day losses were a 24-16 defeat at Boston College on Aug. 31, 2002 in UConn’s first game as an official member of the FBS, a 30-10 loss to Michigan on Sept. 4, 2010, a 33-18 Towson loss in 2013 and a 35-10 loss to BYU on
Aug. 29, 2014. Overall, UConn is 54-62-2 in season openers dating back to 1896.
RETURN OF EDSALL
Head Coach Randy Edsall returns to the Huskies for his second stint as head coach after leading UConn from 1999 to 2010.
Coach Edsall returns to UConn from the NFL’s Detroit Lions where he was the Director of Research -- Special Projects. Prior to that he served as head football coach of the University of Maryland from 2011-2015. Edsall helped lead the Huskies to the 2011 Fiesta Bowl after claiming the 2010 regular season championship.
Edsall is the winningest football coach in UConn history with 74 wins compiled. He led the Huskies program from Division I-AA to Division I-A and in 2002, the Huskies’ first season as a full member of the FBS, led the team to six wins. UConn’s three bowl wins have all come under Edsall. Additionally, Edsall oversaw consistent academic success regularly posting Academic Progress Rates well above the national average and at one time leading all Division I-A public schools graduating more than 90 percent of its student-athletes.
DEPTH CHART BREAKDOWN
UConn revealed its two-deep for the Holy Cross game prior to the debut of the UConn Football Coach’s Show on Aug. 23. The depth chart consists of 53 players, 29 of which are upperclassmen. The redshirt freshman class represents the largest contingent of Huskies on the depth chart with redshirt seniors represented by 10 players. Here’s the breakdown by class of the Holy Cross two-deep:
Redshirt Senior: 10
Redshirt Junior: 7
Redshirt Sophomore: 5
Redshirt Freshmen: 11
HUSKIES LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
The Huskies will be led this season by 10 players that make up the leadership council, a group selected by the coaches to lead the Huskies in 2017. The council consists of players that displayed leadership qualities to the coaching staff and will be responsible for holding teammates accountable, leading respective units and relaying information back to the coaches in order to benefit the team. The members of this year’s leadership council: junior wide receiver Hergy Mayala, senior defensive linemen Luke Carrezola, redshirt senior defensive back Tre Bell, redshirt senior tight end Tommy Myers, senior linebacker Junior Joseph, senior tight end Alec Bloom, redshirt junior offenisve linemen Ryan Crozier, redshirt sophomore offensive linemen Matt Peart, senior linebacker Vontae Diggs and redshirt junior running back Jason Thompson
FATUKASI NAMED TO WATCH LISTS
UConn redshirt senior defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi has been named to three watch lists; the Wuerffel Trophy, Outland Trophy and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
The Wuerffel Trophy is college football’s premier award for community service and is presented to the FBS player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement. Semifinalists will be announced November 2 and finalists November 22. The 2017 recipient will be selected on December 5 at the National Football Foundation’s press conference in New York City.
The Outland Trophy is awarded to the top interior linemen in FBS. Semifinalists are announced on Wednesday, Nov. 15 and finalists on Nov. 21. The Outland Trophy will be awarded on Dec. 7 at The Home Depot College Football Awards. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy honors the best defensive player in college football. Finalists are revealed on Thursday, Nov. 16.
Fatukasi recorded 43 tackles in his junior season, including 3 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss in 12 games started for the Huskies.
FOUR OTHERS ON WATCH LISTS
In addition to Fatukasi, four other Huskies were named to watch lists this preseason – senior linebacker Junior Joseph for Butkus Award, senior tight end Alec Bloom for the John Mackey Award, redshirt senior quarterback Bryant Shirreffs for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Senior linebacker Vontae Diggs has been nominated for the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, one of the most prestigious off-the-field honors in college football. Players nominated have demonstrated that they are actively involved in a charitable organization or service group while maintaining a strong academic standing.
HUSKIES VS. NON-CONFERENCE FOES SINCE 2002
Connecticut boasts a 50-34 record against non-conference opponents in the regular season since making the move to the FBS in 2002. The Huskies have won 23 of their last 38 regular season non-league games overall. UConn has posted the following records in non-conference regular season games: 6-6 (2002), 9-3 (2003), 4-1 (2004), 3-1 (2005), 3-2 (2006), 4-1 (2007), 4-1 (2008), 4-1 (2009), 3-2 (2010), 2-3 (2011), 3-2 (2012), 0-4 (2013), 1-3 (2014) and 2-2 (2015) and 2-2 in 2016.
To help enhance the fan experience, bobblehead giveaways will take place at 3 home football games this season. Additionally, fans who purchased season tickets prior to the April 24 Priority Seating Deadline will receive a special edition “Jonathan the Husky” bobblehead.
The giveaway dates and bobbleheads include:
September 9 vs. USF – Head Coach Randy Edsall
October 28 vs. Missouri – Former QB Dan Orlovsky
November 4 vs. East Carolina – Former RB Donald Brown
Bobbleheads will be produced in limited quantities and will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis upon entry into the stadium on the announced dates. More information about distribution will be released at a later date.
The Huskies moved into Rentschler Field in East Hartford for the 2003 season as UConn enters its 14th season of play there on Thursday. The stadium officially became known as Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in 2015.
Located within miles of Interstates 91, 84 and 384, the home of the Huskies lies on 75 acres of land donated to the State of Connecticut from the historic Pratt & Whitney Airfield. The stadium, like the former airfield, was originally named for that company’s founder, Frederick Rentschler. The stadium boasts a capacity of 40,000 with 38 luxury suites.
UConn has an all-time record of 60-35 at Rentschler Field and a 33-15 mark in non-conference games. UConn has played to 85.3-pct. of capacity all-time there, drawing 3,242,208 fans, or an average of 34,128 per game. UConn set a new all-time single-game attendance record at Rentschler Field on Sept. 21, 2013 against Michigan with a crowd of 42,704. That capacity was achieved with extra bleachers brought in for that game.
Fans attending game at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field this season will notice some exciting game day experience changes.
Here’s a look at some changes for 2017:
UCONN AND “TAILGATE GUYS”
For the past eight years, Tailgate Guys has been offering guests first-class, turnkey tailgate experiences and is proud to offer the same opportunity to Husky fans this year.
UConn patrons now have the option to purchase tailgate packages, which include premium parking spaces, tents, chairs, tables, linens and options for amenities such as televisions and personal signage.
All tailgate packages are available to the public and can be viewed online at TailgateGuys.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (860) 729-0815 with questions and reservation inquiries.
Tailgate Guys, founded in 2009, works with campuses and in bowl games around the Southeast, Atlantic region, and with the addition of UConn -- the Northeast. Current partners include Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia Tech, Texas, the Peach Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, TCU, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Penn State.
UCONN AND “HUSKY SEATS”
Fans can now lease a season long Husky Seat at Husky football games and have it installed for them before the season begins and it remains there the entire year! This eliminates the hassle of picking up your seatback before each game and putting it in yourself and provides premium comfort for all of the gridiron action.
The chair backs can be ordered at HuskySeats.com or by calling 844-331-5066. The season-long seatback costs $40 if ordered before July 21, 2017, $45 if ordered between July 22 and August 25 and $50 after August 25.
The seatback style will be allocated based off of the type of seating for each ticket holder. Single-game seatback rentals will still be available at the stadium for the price of $10 per game.
IMG College Seating has been in operation since 1998 and offers a quality product with a high level of personal service. The seat program allows sports fans to enjoy their gameday experience to the fullest with not only comfortable seating to loyal fans, but a high quality fan service.