Oct. 3, 2012
By Scott Waggoner
Scoring was plentiful in the UConn football team’s 40-22 victory over Rutgers University last November at Rentschler Field.
Eight total touchdowns were registered by both teams combined -- including two each from UConn running back Lyle McCombs and quarterback Scott McCummings -- as the two teams combined for over 700 yards of offense.
Those numbers won’t likely be replicated Saturday afternoon when UConn goes on the road to play the No. 21/22-ranked Scarlet Knights at High Point Solutions Stadium. Game time is 12:00 p.m. on ESPNU and the UConn IMG Sports Radio Network.
The game will feature two of the stingiest defenses in the country. Connecticut has only given up 15.6 points per game this season, while Rutgers only allows 12.8 points a contest -- good for the 23rd and tenth best marks in the country respectably.
Both defenses thrive off getting to the quarterback and Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni sees a lot of similarities in the two.
“Like us they shut down the run and try and make it uncomfortable for the quarterback,” Pasqualoni said.
Quarterbacks have felt anything but comfortable against a Connecticut team that has produced 16 sacks through its first five games, the tenth-highest total in the country.
“Our mentality is to keep attacking every game as hard as we can for 60 minutes,” redshirt senior linebacker Jory Johnson said. “We’re not the type to sit back and see what the offense is doing, we want to come out and get after the quarterback.”
Connecticut will face a formidable offense on Saturday and Pasqualoni says it starts with slowing down Rutgers junior running back Jawan Jamison.
“He’s an excellent back and he makes plays against everybody,” Pasqualoni said. “He’s very productive and can score and quickly ice the game.”
UConn will need another strong performance from their defense Saturday and redshirt senior defensive tackle Ryan Wirth knows that if the Huskies are to win everyone needs to execute.
“I think the whole team in all phases has to come out and do well for this to be a successful game,” Wirth said.
Wirth, who was a part of the Connecticut team that ended the Scarlet Knights’ BCS bowl hopes last year, puts little stock into last season’s game.
“Last year doesn’t matter,” Wirth said. “We have to go out this week and prepare the right way and we could have a game like last year.”
Pasqualoni said Connecticut will need to start fast Saturday much like they did last year and hopes that the Huskies can run the ball more consistently than they have in the first five games of 2012. He likes the improvement his team has shown each week and understands the importance of Connecticut’s first BIG EAST conference game.
“This has huge impact on the conference standings and we’re all after the same thing,” Pasqualoni said. “It’d be naive to think it’s not an important game.”
Johnson also understands the significance of Saturday’s contest and knows what a victory could mean for the Huskies down the road.
“A win against Rutgers to start off BIG EAST play would turn our season around in a positive direction and set the tone for the rest of our conference play,” Johnson said. “It’s a big game and the type of one that you love to play in.”