December 9, 2003
CONNECTICUT HEAD COACH RANDY EDSALL
A veteran of 21 years of major college coaching with three years in the NFL, Edsall has tackled the challenge of bringing a former NCAA Division I-AA team up to par with the BIG EAST in a six year span head on. He has compiled a 24-33 career record in his five seasons at UConn, including wins in 13 of UConns last 16 games. Immediately prior to becoming UConns 27th head coach on December 21, 1998, Edsall served as defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech in 1998 under George OLeary. Edsall began his coaching career at his alma mater, Syracuse, from 1980-1990, working under Frank Maloney and Dick MacPherson in a variety of capacities. Amongst his highlights at Syracuse was being a part of the 1987 team that went undefeated at 11-0-1, tying Auburn, 16-16, in the Sugar Bowl. Edsall moved on to Boston College where he coached defensive backs under Tom Coughlin from 1991-93 before following Coughlin to the NFLs Jacksonville Jaguars, staying on the First Coast through the 1997 season. Edsall is a native of Glen Rock, Pa., and graduated from Susquehannock High School.
UCONN HAS RECORD TO ITSELF WITH NINE WINS
The 2003 UConn Huskies are the first team in school history to win nine games in a season. The 1998 team which advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals before falling, 52-30, at Georgia Southern, finished with a school-record 10 wins at 10-3 and is the only UConn team to ever win more than nine games. Five teams in school history won eight games. Connecticut was 8-3 in 1995, 1989 and 1986, 8-2-1 in 1973, and 8-2 in 1901.
UCONN RECORDS FIRST DIVISION I-A WINNING SEASON
By winning nine games in 2003, UConn secured a winning record in just its second season with the full compliment of 85 Division I-A scholarships. Coupled with last years 6-6 record, the Huskies finished consecutive seasons at .500 or better for just the second time since 1990. UConn went 7-4 in 1997 and 10-3 in 1998 in its only other such instance since a run of five straight winning seasons from 1986-90. By gaining nine wins this fall, the Huskies were also bowl eligible for the first time in school history but, with limited options due to its independent status, UConn was not selected for a game.
HUSKY WIN TOTAL STANDS STRONG AMONGST NATIONAL ELITE
It has been quite a run for the UConn football program. Since Nov. 1, 2002, the Huskies have posted a 13-3 record. The 13 wins tie for the 11th most regular-season wins of any school in the nation over that span. Oklahoma and Boise State are tied for the national lead with 16, followed by the trio of Kansas State, Miami (FL) and USC which have each won 15 games.
MOST REGULAR SEASON WINS SINCE NOV. 1, 2002
16 Boise State, Oklahoma
15 Kansas State, Miami (FL), USC
14 Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Tennessee
13 CONNECTICUT and eight others
HUSKIES AMONGST THE TOPS IN THE BIG EAST WITH ANY CONFIGURATION
With nine wins on the regular season, the 2003 Huskies won more games than any other current or future member of the BIG EAST Football Conference this past fall except for Miami which won 10. UConn is either tied with or ahead of all other BIG EAST members in terms of wins during the 2003 regular season, equalling Louisvilles nine, and topping West Virginia (eight), Virginia Tech (eight), Pittsburgh (eight), South Florida (seven), Boston College (seven), Syracuse (six), Cincinnati (five), Rutgers (five) and Temple (one).
NINE VICTORIES TIED FOR NUMBER 17 IN THE NATION
Only sixteen teams nationally have won more than UConns nine regular season games in 2003. Seven of those teams played more than the standard 12 games.
ONE OF AMERICAS HOTTEST TEAMS
Winners of each of their last five, the Huskies are tied with Tulsa for the 12th longest active winning streak in the nation entering bowl season. Miami (Ohio) leads the pack with 12 consecutive wins. UConn will move up at least one spot because two teams ahead of the Huskies, USC (eight straight wins) and Michigan (six), will face off in the Rose Bowl.
UConn has won each of its last seven games played in the month of November, posting a perfect mark in the calendars penultimate month since 2001. Last fall, the Huskies were a perfect 4-0 in November with wins over Florida Atlantic (Nov. 2), Kent State (Nov. 9), Navy (Nov. 16) and Iowa State (Nov. 23). UConn started off where it left off this fall by defeating Western Michigan, 41-27 on Nov. 1, Rutgers, 38-31 on Nov. 8, both at Rentschler Field and then posting a 51-17 win at Wake Forest on Nov. 15 to end the season. UConns last November loss came on Nov, 24, 2001 when the Huskies lost to Temple at Franklin Field in Philadelphia in a contest that was rescheduled to the end of the season after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
CONNECTICUT FOOTBALL: GOOD TO THE LAST DROP
Fans who left early from any of UConns final six games, except for Western Michigan and Wake Forest (both UConn wins), missed a treat. Four of UConns last six contests were settled in the final 30 seconds and three of them were settled on the final play from scrimmage. On Oct. 11 at NC State, the Wolfpack escaped with a 31-24 win when Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay returned an intercepted pass for a touchdown with five seconds to play. At Kent State on Oct. 18, UConn won the game in overtime when Dan Orlovsky hit ONeil Wilson for a 14-yard touchdown. Then, on Oct. 25, UConn defeated Akron, 38-37 when Matt Nuzie nailed a 27-yard field goal as time expired. UConn fell behind the Broncos 17-0 on Nov. 1 but managed to pull away for a 41-27 win. The excitement returned the following Saturday when a muffed Rutgers punt return with 1:19 to play set up UConn for a Cornell Brockington game-winning TD run with 26 seconds to play.
HUSKIES ON SECOND BEST 16-GAME STREAK EVER
UConn has posted a 13-3 record in its last 16 games, marking one of the finest stretches in the programs football history. UConn has never won 16 consecutive games, but did go 14-2 over a stretch of the 1942-45 seasons. UConn also had a 12-3-1 stretch over parts of the 1936-38 seasons.
SOME TURNOVER ON TURNOVER DOMINANCE
One critical element to UConns 2002 success was its large advantage in turnover margin. The 2002 Huskies finished the year +12 in turnover margin and outscored their opposition 110-49 off of turnovers (+61). For most of the 2003 season, UConn trailed in turnover margin but after gaining momentum with a 5-0 advantage against Rutgers, UConn finished the year with an even 20 takeaways and 20 giveaways. Still, despite losing the turnover battle, UConn held a decided advantage in points off of turnovers, one of its strong suits in 2002 when it held an 83-0 advantage over the final five games. Although UConn was merely even in turnover margin in 2003, the Huskies stood at +42 points in scoring margin off of turnovers, outscoring its foes 94-52. In all, UConn holds a staggering 177-52 advantage in points off of turnovers over its last 17 contests. Three of the seven touchdowns against UConn came directly on the turnover.
ACC-ELERATING TO A BIG WIN
UConns 51-17 win at Wake Forest on Nov. 15 was noteworthy for the final score. With its explosive offensive display, UConn became only the third non-conference team in the past 20 years to score at least 50 points in an ACC stadium. In his return to Chapel Hill, Mack Browns Texas Longhorns beat North Carolina 52-21 on Sept. 14, 2002 while Joe Paterno and Penn State hung a 70-7 loss on Maryland on Oct. 2, 1993 at Byrd Stadium. Prior to those two instances, the last time a half a hundred points were hung on an ACC scoreboard by a non-conference team came back on Oct. 1, 1983 when Howard Schnellenbergers Miami Hurricanes beat Duke, 56-17 in Durham en route to the schools first national championship. Placing himself in elite company, Dan Orlovskys name is alongside those of Bernie Kosar, Kerry Collins and Chris Simms as the starting quarterbacks from those contests.
RECENT GROVES GUESTS, BESIDES THE NOLES, LEFT IN UCONNS WAKE
When UConn took to the field at Wake Forests Groves Stadium with an 8-3 record on Nov. 15, the Huskies had the most wins of any team, other than Florida State, to play there in 13 years. Prior to UConn, the last time a team with at least eight wins, not coached by Bobby Bowden, went to Winston-Salem was on Nov. 17, 1990 when Georgia Tech entered its contest at Wake with an 8-0-1 record. Bobby Ross Yellow Jackets stung the Deacons, 42-7, that day en route to the schools fourth national championship. UConn had similar results, in its 51-17 win.
HUSKIES POST LONGEST WINNING STREAK IN EIGHT YEARS
UConn had a six-game winning streak snapped, one which ranked as the sixth-longest in the nation at the point of termination with a 24-14 loss to Boston College on Sept. 13. The Huskies won the final four games of the 2002 season, defeating Florida Atlantic, Kent State, Navy and Iowa State, and then captured the first two games of the 2003 campaign with wins over Indiana and Army. UConns six-game winning streak was the Huskies longest since winning seven in a row between the 1994 and 1995 seasons and tied for the fourth longest in school history. The Husky football squads winning streak though pales in comparison to the UConn record for all sports, the NCAA-record 70 consecutive wins rattled off by the womens basketball team that was snapped in March by Villanova. Also noteworthy is that during UConns six-game winning streak, no two wins have come over members of the same conference, as UConn has defeated a foe from the Big Ten (Indiana), Big 12 (Iowa State), Conference USA (Army), Mid-American (Kent State), an Independent (Navy) and a Division I-AA team (Florida Atlantic). During the six-game streak, UConn outscored its opponents 281-86 while holding a 2,830-1,569 yard advantage in total offense, advantages of 32.5 points per game and 210.2 yards per game.
FELDEISEN NAMED COSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICAN
Senior wide receiver Shaun Feldeisen was named a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American on Dec. 1. Feldeisen was honored for maintaining a 3.63 GPA in marketing in addition to his fine work on the field. He is the second player to be so recognized in the programs history, joining offensive lineman William Leahy who was also named to the Academic All-America second team in 1978.
Each week head coach Randy Edsall issues an award for the Scout Team Player of the Week on both offense and defense. In recognition of their often-overlooked hard work, those players earn a spot on the Husky travel squad and dress list for that weeks game. The weekly honorees are listed below.
Game Offense Defense
Indiana OT Chad Atwell DE Jason Ward
Army WR Seth Fogarty CB Nick Berube
Boston College TB Jon Wholley LB Ryan Henegan
Buffalo OT Brian Kersmanc LB Christian Helies
Virginia Tech QB Shane Fogarty LB Mike Hall
Lehigh TE Tom Blumenhauer DB Ricky McCollum
NC State TE Conn Davis SS Donnell Ford
Kent State OG Ken Rice DL Harold Stanback
Akron WR Aaron Smith LB Ryan Henegan
Western Michigan WR Matt DAgata CB Donnell Ford
Rutgers QB Peder von Harten DT Ray Blagman
Wake Forest WR Tony Atkinson DE Gary Mack
2003 SEASON GAME BALLS
After each UConn win, head coach Randy Edsall awards a game ball to an offensive, defense and special teams player of the game in recognition of their efforts. After UConns 34-10 win over Indiana in Rentschler Fields inaugural game, Edsall also presented special game balls in the locker room to both UConn President Philip Austin and Athletics Director Jeffrey Hathaway for their vision and hard work towards making both Rentschler Field and UConns Division I-A status a reality. Additional special game balls were awarded after UConns win over Rutgers. Edsall presented a game ball in the locker room to Connecticut Governor John Rowland for his staunch support of the university. Hathaway also presented a game ball to Edsall for his guidance of the UConn program. Legendary UConn mens basketball head coach Dee Rowe was also given a special game ball from the Wake Forest game for his staunch support of the football team during its time of transition.
INDIANA: ONeil Wilson (offense), Sean Mulcahy (defense), Kinnan Herriott (special teams).
ARMY: Dan Orlovsky (offense), Tyler King (defense), no special teams.
BUFFALO: Offensive line (Ryan Krug, Brian Markowski, Billy Irwin, LeAndre Dupree, Grant Preston), Dan Murray and Terry Caulley (offense), Terrance Smith (defense), Jason Williams (special teams).
LEHIGH: Brandon Young (offense), Justin Perkins (defense), Cedric Baylor (special teams).
KENT STATE: Chris Bellamy (offense), Uyi Osunde (defense), Jeff Fox (special teams).
AKRON: Shaun Feldeisen and Dan Orlovsky (offense), Tyler King (defense), Matt Nuzie (special teams).
WESTERN MICHIGAN: Cornell Brockington (offense), Alfred Fincher (defense), Deon Anderson (special teams).
RUTGERS: All 19 seniors.
WAKE FOREST: Cornell Brockington (offense), Allan Barnes (defense), Terrance Smith (special teams).
HUSKIES DOMINATING BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL
UConn was outgained by Rutgers 455-321 on Nov. 8. It is significant because it marked the first time since losing at Vanderbilt on Oct. 26, 2002, that UConn had been outgained, a span of 16 games. In its other 11 games this year, UConn averaged 491.7 yards per game of total offense and 329.5 yards per game of total defense. The Huskies have outgained 16 of their last 17 opponents.
HUSKIES RECEIVE FIRST EVER DIVISION I-A POLL VOTES
Connecticut received six votes in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll on Sept. 1, the first Division I-A votes in the programs history. After falling out the following week, UConn returned to the polls after the Wake Forest game. UConn made its debut in the AP poll by garnering 10 votes on Nov. 16 while also earning two in the coaches poll that day.
EXPERIENCE LEVEL SPREAD EVENLY
Having finished one complete five-year coaching cycle, head coach Randy Edsall has compiled a team that is well diversified in its makeup. The Huskies featured between 14 and 18 players at each level of their eligibility in 2003 amongst the 79 players currently on scholarship. Despite this balance, the starting lineup was younger, with the Huskies set to return 16 of 22 projected opening day starters, and place kicker Matt Nuzie, for their crucial 2004 season, the teams first as a member of the BIG EAST Football Conference.
YOUTH IS SERVED
Six true freshmen played for the Huskies in 2003. The secondary saw the largest infusion of freshman talent as Allan Barnes, Dontá Moore, and Jahi Smith all got into the defensive backfield mix in addition to working heavily on special teams. Offensively Sam Dorvil and Matt Lawrence were the lone true freshmen to see action, with Dorvil spelling Deon Anderson at fullback and Lawrence stepping up to help fill the void left by Terry Caulleys injury. Graig Vicidomino saw action as a place kicker for the Huskies. Brian Ushler was listed on the UConn two-deep all year as the backup deep snapper, but was not forced into action. Overall, seven true freshmen played for UConn in 2002.
OUR OWN LITTLE EPCOT CENTER HERE IN STORRS
While the overwhelming majority of the 2003 UConn football team was comprised of players from the northeastern United States, the Huskies had a far greater foreign influence than your typical college football team with players hailing from three different continents. UConn had five Canadian players, two from Ontario (Hakeem Kashama and ONeil Wilson) and a trio of Quebecois (Dan Desriveaux, Shawn Mayne and Jason Ward). Although now a Canadian citizen, Kashama was actually born in Zaire while Uyi Osunde was born in Nigeria. Punter Adam Coles is a native Australian while offensive tackle Aloys Manga is a native of Duana, Cameroon. Although not a foreign nation, UConns Conn Davis grew up outside of the 50 states in the Virgin Islands.
Senior wide receiver Shaun Feldeisen, defensive tackle Sean Mulcahy and defensive end Uyi Osunde were named as the teams tri-captains this past spring in a vote of their teammates who could not have chosen better personifications of where the UConn program has gone during their careers. None of the three were heavily recruited - Feldeisen was originally a walk-on and spent a year as a place kicker - but through hard work, all three currently harbor realistic thoughts of playing the NFL.
DAN-O STILL PUTTING ON A SHOW
Junior Dan Orlovsky, highly-recruited out of high school, continues to live up to the local hype he generated as a high school All-American and the Connecticut Player of the Year in 2000 at Shelton. In 2003, Orlovsky was named the teams MVP after hitting on 279-of-475 passes (58.7%) for 3,485 yards with 33 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for a 137.40 rating. This run included a school-record five touchdown passes in UConns 48-21 win at Army, a total that he equalled against Akron. Those games helped him to a total of 33 on the year which broke not only the UConn individual record, but also the previous school record for an entire team. He also set UConns seasonal records for passing yardage (UConns first 3,000-yard season), completions and attempts in 2003. He had a total of five 300-yard passing games to his credit this year (Indiana, Army, Virginia Tech, Western Michigan and Wake Forest) with two 299-yard efforts (NC State and Akron). Orlovsky has now thrown a whopping 44 TD passes during the last 16 games (2.8 per game) and stands in third place in UConn history with 61 career TD strikes. Orlovsky also owns an active streak of 24 consecutive games with a TD pass, another school-record. Orlovsky presently ranks 13th in the nation in total offense, 10th in points responsible for, eighth in passing and ninth in passing yards, while his 33 TD passes tie for fifth in the nation.
A poised and mature Dan Orlovsky has seen his statistics make a dramatic improvement of late. Below are his statistics from the first 18 games of his career and the last 16 (record listed is only in games which he started):
TD INT YPG CMP% EFF REC*
First 18 17 20 167.2 52.5% 103.60 3-11
Last 16 44 16 271.0 60.3% 142.02 13-3
By throwing for 316 yards in UConns game at Virginia Tech on Sept. 27, Dan Orlovsky joined some elite company. Since the start of the 2001 season, only seven quarterbacks have thrown for 300 yards in a game against the Hokies stringent defense. In that regard, Orlovsky joins Florida States Chris Rix, Miamis Ken Dorsey, Marshalls Byron Leftwich, Syracuses Troy Nunes, Pittsburghs Rod Rutherford and Virginias Matt Schaub.
FINISHING IN THE RED IS GOOD
You wouldnt want your financial ledgers to be full of red ink, but UConns late season success was in part due to finishing its time in the red zone in style. UConn has presently scored on each of its last 27 possessions in the red zone, dating back to its Oct. 18 game at Kent State. The run, which the Huskies will carry into the 2004 season, includes 20 touchdowns and seven field goals.
SLICIN AND DICIN WITH FELDEISEN
Shaun Feldeisen had a career year as a senior. The former walk-on turned captain and Academic All-American led UConn with 65 catches for 860 yards while also making seven touchdown grabs. The 65 catches tied for the sixth-best seasonal total in UConn history. More important was Feldeisens production in pressure situations. Of Feldeisens 65 catches this past fall, 50 were good for a UConn first down. Also, 25 of the 65 receptions came on third down with five more coming on critical fourth down plays. In all, 22 of Feldeisens final 23 catches in 2003 went for a first down, including nine of his career-high 10 grabs against Wake Forest. A dependable performer in big games, Feldeisen was UConns leading receiver this year in games against Boston College, Virginia Tech, NC State and Wake Forest.
NO SACKS ALLOWED
Thanks to the performance of UConns offensive line in 2003, equipment manager Larry Hare had one less jersey to clean, that of quarterback Dan Orlovsky. The Huskies allowed just 10 sacks in 2003, tying for the third fewest sacks allowed in the nation. Run-oriented Air Force allowed only one sack in 2003 while Toledo permitted nine. UConns 10 tied for third with Louisville and ranked one ahead of the trio of Arkansas, Rice and South Carolina which each allowed 11.
CAULL TO THE BULLPEN
A season-ending right knee injury (torn ACL and a posterolateral corner tear) to tailback Terry Caulley created an opening for two freshmen and one junior to display their talents for the remainder of the season. The tailback by committee was successful as three different Huskies rushed for over 100 yards in a single game on the season. Junior Chris Bellamy, redshirt freshman Cornell Brockington and true freshman Matt Lawrence of Bloomfield each had an opportunity to rush the ball for the Huskies. Prior to Caulleys injury, only Brockington saw reserve action in the first five games in relief of Caulley. Lawrence, who the coaching staff had hoped to redshirt but kept prepared just in case, stepped onto the field for the first time at Virginia Tech and started against Lehigh and NC State. Lawrences starting debut against the Mountain Hawks was a successful one, carrying 19 times for 88 yards with one touchdown. Against NC State though, Bellamy asserted himself, gaining a career-high 166 yards on 29 carries and continued to be the teams top rusher, eclipsing the century mark in three straight games. With Bellamy hurting against Western Michigan though, Brockington took off, rushing for 186 yards on 29 carries and scoring five touchdowns, four of them on the ground. Brockington rushed for 188 more against Wake Forest. Thanks to this group, UConn had a 100-yard rusher in eight of its 12 games this year.
THAT NAME RINGS A BELLAMY
A wide receiver on opening day, Chris Bellamy rushed for over 100 yards three times. The junior entered the year with 332 career rushing yards and had 589 this season. Bellamy played in nine games as a redshirt freshman in 2001 with one start, and five more last year, including a start against Georgia Tech, before Terry Caulley blew past him on the depth chart, running to Freshman All-America honors. With strong depth in the preseason at tailback compliments of Caulley and promising freshmen Cornell Brockington and Matt Lawrence, Bellamy moved to wide receiver, where he worked until Caulleys Sept. 27 knee injury. Bellamy was quickly switched back to tailback and played well in relief of Lawrence a week later against Lehigh, picking up 42 yards on eight carries, including his first career touchdown. Although not even listed on the two-deep that week, Bellamy was given an opportunity to see significant playing time at NC State, and he seized the moment, rushing for 166 yards on 29 carries (5.7 avg.). He followed up that performance with a 33-carry 212-yard game (6.4 avg.) at Kent State and a 101-yard rushing day against Akron. Bellamys performance against the Golden Flashes was the first 200-yard game by a UConn runner, other than Caulley, since Tory Taylor ran for 256 yards against Boston University on Nov. 4, 1995.
HISTORIC 200-YARD TWOSOME
Terry Caulley rushed for 234 yards at Buffalo on Sept. 20 and Chris Bellamy ran for 212 at Kent State on Oct. 17. This marked the second time in school history that UConn had two 200-yard rushing performances in the same season and the first time that two different backs have ever gone over 200 in one year. In 1989, Kevin Wesley ran for 272 yards against Massachusetts on Oct. 14 and 223 against Boston University on Nov. 11 in UConns only previous instance of a season with two 200-yard rushing games. Prior to this year, no Husky had gone over 200 yards on the ground in a game since Tory Taylor rushed for 256 against Boston University on Nov. 4, 1995. In total there have been 14 200-yard rushing games in the nation this fall and UConn joins Oklahoma State (Tatum Bell) and North Texas (Patrick Cobbs) as the only schools with two such games.
RECAULLING SOME HIGHLIGHTS
The UConn offense suffered a blow when starting tailback Terry Caulley was lost for the remainder of the season after suffering a right knee injury early in the Virginia Tech game on Sept. 27. At the time of the injury, Caulley was leading the nation with 601 rushing yards and ranked second by average at 150.3 yards per game. He stood tied for fourth nationally in rushing touchdowns (seven), fifth in scoring (12.0 ppg), and Caulley also ranked eighth in all-purpose running (170.5 ypg) despite the fact that he does not return either punts or kickoffs. Entering the Virginia Tech game, his 1,848 career rushing yards led all other sophomore rushers in the nation by a margin of 442 yards on the heels of a 2002 campaign in which he was the nations leading freshman rusher. Earlier in the season, at Army, Caulley broke Vin Clements school record set in 1968 by hitting the century mark on the ground for the sixth consecutive game. Caulley currently has 10 career 100-yard rushing efforts in just 15 career games played, good for a tie for second on the UConn career chart. Caulley had also scored at least one touchdown in each of his last 12 games played prior to the injury.
BALANCED ATTACK STRIKES BACK
Head coach Randy Edsall preaches a balanced offensive attack, evenly mixing rushing and passing plays throughout his tenure at UConn. The 2003 season was no exception. The Huskies had 483 passing plays to their credit this past fall and 463 rushing plays.
HENRYS HAT TRICK
When he caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Dan Orlovsky during the second quarter of the Buffalo game on Sept. 20, Keron Henry completed a rare career trifecta. Henry has now caught, thrown and rushed for touchdowns in his UConn career. He joins Ken Sweitzer (1978-81) and Tory Taylor (1995-98) as the only Huskies to accomplish this impressive feat.
MUST BE WAYNE GRETZKY FANS
Members of the UConn offense have narrowly missed milestone games three times this year due to their final numbers ending with the number 99. Twice this year (NC State and Akron), Dan Orlovsky has thrown for 299 yards. In the sandwich game between those two outings, at Kent State, Orlovsky was similarly clipped narrowly short of the 300-passing yard plateau when he finished the game with 293. Also, against Boston College on Sept. 13, Terry Caulley had a string of six consecutive 100-yard rushing games snapped when he finished the game with 99 yards. On the receiving end, Shaun Feldeisen was stopped with 98 yards at Army on Sept. 6.
OFFENSE MAKES DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT IN 2003
The UConn offense made a marked improvement in 2003 from its totals from 2002. Overall, the 477.5 yards per game rank seventh in the nation at the conclusion of the regular season while the 297.9 passing yards rank 10th.
Total Offense 359.2 ypg 477.5 ypg
Passing Offense 222.6 ypg 297.9 ypg
Rushing Offense 136.6 ypg 179.6 ypg
DEEP LIKE THE OCEAN
Due to good solid competition and also some unfortunate injuries, UConn accomplished these strong numbers with a hodge-podge lineup. The Huskies started four different tailbacks in 2003, three different tight ends and five different wide receivers.
GOING FOR TWO IS SOMETHING NEW
When Dan Orlovsky hit Keron Henry to tie the Huskies game at Kent State 28-28 late in the fourth quarter, you couldnt fault the Golden Flashes for not having scouted UConns two-point conversion plays. It was the first time UConn had attempted a two point conversion in its last 22 games, dating back to the Nov. 17, 2001 contest at Middle Tennessee when Dan Orlovsky connected with Cliff Hill.
GOING THE DISTANCE
UConns offense put together some impressive marches this past fall. The Huskies made 11 touchdown drives of at least 80 yards this season, including a pair in the season finale at Wake Forest. This continues a trend from last season when UConn had 14 drives of 80-yards or more, including four of 90 yards or longer. With the exception of overtime play, UConns 53 touchdown drives this year have averaged 61.9 yards.
100-YARD TWO-PACK AGAINST WOLFPACK
In UConns Oct. 11 game at NC State, Chris Bellamy gained 166 yards rushing while ONeil Wilson gained 106 receiving yards. This was the 29th time that UConn had a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in the same game, and the first such instance in a regulation contest since Oct. 10, 1998 when Barry Chandler ran for 130 and Carl Bond picked up 104 through the air against Hofstra. In a three-overtime game against Villanova on Oct. 16, 1999, Taber Small rushed for 175 yards while John Fitzsimmons gained 107 through the air.
LASSEN LASSOES TOUCHDOWNS
UConn tight end Tim Lassen has made the most of his 11 career receptions. Five of the 11 have been good for touchdowns, including one during the second half of UConns comeback win over Rutgers.
SHARING THE WEALTH
For the second consecutive season, Randy Edsall hoped to utilize a deep rotation of wide receivers to help the offense flourish and got just that result. Seven different Huskies caught at least 20 passes in 2002 which tied for the fourth in the nation during the regular season. In 2003, Edsall had a variety of weapons at the position, where Shaun Feldeisen and Keron Henry may have been listed as starters, but Edsall considered all within the group worthy of the honor. Matt Cutaia, ONeil Wilson, Jason Williams and Brandon Young formed the core of a formidable group that saw Feldeisen and Wilson share the teams offensive MVP award following the season. In 2003, 15 different players have caught a pass for UConn and eight Huskies hit double figures in receptions. The shared receptions also created an even distribution of receiving yardage. Despite the fact that UConn has thrown for 6,246 passing yards over the past two seasons combined (260.3 ypg), the Huskies have had just four 100-yard receiving games, Shaun Feldeisen last year against Georgia Tech, Brandon Young on Oct. 4 against Lehigh, ONeil Wilson on Oct. 11 at NC State and Feldeisen on Nov. 15 at Wake Forest. Also, 10 different Huskies caught a touchdown pass in 2003.
BUSTING OUT OF THE GATES
The UConn offense wasted little time in putting points on the scoreboard in 2003, scoring 34 in the opener against Indiana and 48 in the second game of the season, coming at Army. The Huskies scored 82 points through two games in 2003, setting a school record for the most points scored through the first two games of a season. The previous highest scoring start came in 1998 when UConn scored a combined 80 points in wins over Colgate and Maine. Through nine games, UConn is 32nd in the nation, averaging 30.9 points per game.
JUNIORS DOMINATE OFFENSIVE LINE
UConns offensive line had a wonderful combination of both youth and experience in 2003. Starting one senior, three juniors and a sophomore, the bulk of the group will all return for the 2004 season, but combined had a total of 79 career starts worth of experience with 84 combined games played between them at the start of the 2003 season. The line gelled late in the year, allowing just two sacks on UConns final 220 passing attempts.
TIGHT CALL AT TIGHT END
After losing tight end Tommy Collins, the teams leading receiver in 2002, to graduation, the race at tight end was one of the more difficult to call of the offseason. Sophomore Tim Lassen seemed to step forward as the heir apparent to Collins, but suffered a shoulder injury during fall drills. Senior Terry McClowry edged out redshirt freshman Dan Murray for the starting post although both saw playing time in the season opener against Indiana. Murray started against Army, BC, Buffalo and Virginia Tech when McClowry suffered a shoulder stinger and he was backed up by an interesting combination of fellow redshirt freshmen. Ziggy Goryn played a majority of the reserve downs, but in goal line situations, tackle Craig Berry checked in as an eligible receiver at tight end wearing number 94. McClowry returned for Virginia Tech and started against Lehigh. Lassen recovered from his injury in time to make his debut at NC State where he started along with McClowry as UConn opened the game in a two tight end set.
YOUTH REIGNS IN CONNECTICUT BACKFIELD
Fullback Deon Anderson and tailback Terry Caulley started last season as true freshmen and with a year of experience, they led a very talented young backfield as the season opened. The group was bolstered by a trio of freshmen this year. True freshman Sam Dorvil spelled Anderson some this fall. Redshirt freshman Cornell Brockington and true freshman Matt Lawrence dueled all September for the top backup role behind Terry Caulley and later battled for the starting position in the wake of Caulleys season-ending injury.
THREE AND OUTS BECAME COMMON FOR UCONN FOES
The UConn defense forced Indiana into five three-and-outs in the season opener and followed that performance up with several similar showings throughout the 2003 season. UConn forced its 2003 opponents to go three-and-out 43 times in 162 possessions, a strong 27-percent. In 2002, UConn forced a three-and-out on 30-percent of opposing possessions, including a season high eight on just 12 possessions at Navy.
HUSKIES SHOW UB PUNTER MILANO WHOS THE BOSS
The UConn defense swarmed over Buffalos offense forcing 11 Bull punts by Dominic Milano out of 13 UB possessions. The lone exceptions came with the end of the first half and a failed fourth-down try late in the game. UConns defense was also solid against Virginia Tech in this category. The Huskies forced the Hokies to punt six times in the game, the same number of punts that Virginia Tech had made in its first three games of the year combined. Two weeks later, NC State had to punt nine times against the Huskies, the Wolfpacks most punts in a game since at least 1999. Overall, UConn forced its opponents to punt a staggering 85 times (7.1 per game) in 2003. Although the NCAA does not keep this as a category leader, on the flip side, only Arizona (98), Baylor (93), Iowa State (87) and Stanford (86) were forced to punt more times as a team in 2003. By comparison, the UConn offense punted just 60 times this past year.
LINEBACKERS FINALLY JOIN SACK ATTACK
On Oct. 11, linebacker James Hargraves sack of NC State quarterback Philip Rivers on third-and-10 on the UConn 11 yard-line with seconds remaining in the first half was critical as it held the Wolfpack to a field goal. However, it was also noteworthy. Coming at the mid point of the seventh game of the year, it was UConns 17th sack of the year, but its first sack by someone other than a defensive lineman. UConn made 39 sacks this past year with 34.5 of them coming from the defensive line. In 2002, non-linemen recorded 7.5 of UConns 23 sacks with the linemen making the other 15.5.
PRESSURE PUSHING DOWN ON QUARTERBACKS
The UConn defense did a much better job in 2003 of pressuring opposing quarterbacks. UConn was credited by the coaches with 126 pass pressures while all throughout of the 2002 season, UConn was credited with 76 pass pressures. Meanwhile, UConns 39 sacks was 70% more than its 23 in 2002.
RIVERS DOESNT FLOW AGAINST HUSKIES
NC State quarterback Philip Rivers, considered a prime Heisman Trophy candidate who Dan Orlovsky called "far and away the best quarterback in the country" during an October live chat on UConnHuskies.com, found himself stifled by the Husky defense. The efficient Rivers, who entered the game with an amazing .751 completion percentage, was held to a season-low .548 (23-for-42) by the Huskies. It was his lowest completion percentage of the season and the seniors lowest ever in a non-conference game, including three bowl appearances. Rivers 234 passing yards against UConn was also a season low to that point.
ON ANY GIVEN OSUNDE
With his sack at NC State, Uyi Osunde became UConns all-time career tackles for loss leader. He finished his career 47, a sum bolstered by making a career high-five against Akron. The previous record of 31 was shared by Razul Wallace (1999-2002) and Jamar Wilkins (1997-2000). Osunde led the Huskies with 11 sacks on the season in 2003 and 24.5 total tackles for loss. His 84 total tackles led all UConn defensive linemen. Osunde, who has been invited to several senior all-star games, ranked third in the nation during the regular season with 24.5 TFLs and 12th in sacks.
A KING AINT SATISFIED UNTIL HE RULES EVERYTHING
As defenses tried to clamp down on Uyi Osunde, Tyler King was able to rise to the occasion on the opposite end. After making 66 tackles, 13 TFLs and 6.5 sacks in his first two seasons combined, King recorded 77 tackles in 2002 with 17 TFLs and eight sacks, ranking second only to Osunde for UConn in the later two categories. King announced his presence with authority at the end of a critical series late in the first half against Akron. The Zips drove to the UConn 19 with about 4:00 to play in the second quarter already holding a 28-21 lead. King saved the Huskies from an imposing halftime deficit by sacking Akron quarterback Charlie Frye on both first and second down, followed by a stop on Frye for a gain of just two yards. The resulting negative yardage forced Akron to punt on their red zone possession and kept UConn in a game the Huskies would rally to win 38-37.
INTERCEPTION TOTALS PERK UP
Junior cornerback Justin Perkins, who missed all but the first half of the season opener in 2002 with a knee injury, regained the form that made his the teams top cover corner in 2001. Perkins also found his interception knack, snaring a total of six opponent passes this past fall, tying for 13th in the nation with 0.50 interceptions per game. He made two interceptions against Rutgers and is tied for sixth place on UConns all-time seasonal record chart with his six pick-offs in 2003.
POTENT HOKIES SHUTOUT ON THIRD DOWN
A concern for UConn entering the Virginia Tech game was the Hokies startling third down efficiency. Virginia Tech had converted on 67% of its third down tries in 2003 entering the contest (26-for-39) but against UConn the Hokies went 0-for-8. It marked the second year in a row that UConn has held a team without a third down conversion, after stopping Navy on each of the Midshipmens 12 attempts last Nov. 16.
CONSISTENCY IN STARTING LINEUP
UConn started the exact same defensive lineup in eight of its 12 games. Taurien Sowell started for a banged up Maurice Lloyd at Army, while Kinnan Herriott and Allan Barnes got starting nods against Western Michigan and Barnes again against Rutgers. Rhema Fuller started for Sean Mulcahy at Wake Forest, but otherwise the lineup was perfectly constant. The four down linemen were Tyler King, Ryan Bushey, Sean Mulcahy and Uyi Osunde in all but the final contest. Alfred Fincher, Lloyd and James Hargrave served as the predominant starters at linebacker while Justin Perkins, Terrance Smith, John Fletcher and Ernest Cole have comprised the starting backfield eight times. UConn never opened a game in its nickel package.
EXPERIENCE ON THE LINE
UConn boasted a tremendous amount of experience amongst its starters on the defensive line, which will lose three seniors and retain just one junior, all of whom saw considerable playing time in their UConn careers. The unit was further bolstered in 2003 by the guidance of two of the teams three captains in Sean Mulcahy and Uyi Osunde. Entering the season, the four starters on the defensive line averaged 21.3 career starts between them. Osunde is first in UConn history with his 47 career tackles for loss, a sum which includes 9.5 sacks in 2002 and 11 more this past fall. Osundes sack of Bryan Randall was the first one Virginia Tech yielded in 2003 and didnt come until the Hokies fourth game. Tyler King was a perfect complement to Osunde at the other defensive end spot. The 6-6 255 pound junior has an ever-charging motor that propelled him to 77 tackles in 2003, including 17 for a loss. The tackles were both seniors in Mulcahy and Ryan Bushey. Bushey missed much of the 2002 season, but he regained his form from 2001 where he started all 11 games. One of the teams most media-friendly personas, Mulcahy has 136 career tackles to his credit with 20.5 for a loss. With the exception of senior end Hakeem Kashama, the reserves were young though. Sophomores Shawn Mayne and Deon McPhee plus redshirt freshmen Rhema Fuller spelled the starters on game day.
LORDY, LORDY, OUR DEFENSE RANKS IN THE TOP 40
While UConn defense slipped some towards the end of the 2003 season, it still maintained a spot in the NCAAs weekly top 40. UConn at the conclusion of the regular season, UConn checked in at number 36 in total defense (340.00 ypg). The Huskies are also 48th in rushing defense (138.83 ypg), 34th in passing defense (201.17 ypg) and 32nd in passing efficiency defense (114.18 rating). The Huskies also rank 58th in scoring defense (25.00 ppg) although UConn surrendered a school-record eight non-offensive touchdowns in 2003.
LINEBACKERS LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS
Before the season, it appeared that the UConn linebacking corps would be one of the teams stronger units and the group did not disappoint in 2003. The three starters on the unit ranked first, second and fifth on the team in tackles. James Hargrave, the lone new starter of the bunch, ranked fifth overall with 76 tackles, including eight tackles for loss, despite missing almost two full games with a hand injury. Alfred Fincher and Maurice Lloyd wrestled for the teams overall tackle lead all season. Lloyd came out on top with 121 total tackles on the season after making a whopping 14 (12 solo) against Rutgers and 11 more at Wake Forest. The weakside post saw not only strong play by Lloyd, but also exceptional play off of the bench by Taurien Sowell. Starting in place of an injured Lloyd at Army, Sowell led UConn with 14 tackles in the game. He has also made noteworthy contributions on special teams. Fincher solidified the middle, making 113 tackles this past year with 11.5 for a loss.
SECONDARY TURNED TO SOME SECONDARY PLAYERS
With the unexpected losses of Jason Dellaselva, Marlon Jones and Chris Meyer over the summer, the UConn secondary had some fresh but capable faces in 2003. The unit that ranked fifth in the nation in passing defense in 2002 immediately benefited from the return of a healthy Justin Perkins. Perkins was the Huskies top cover corner in 2001 but missed all but the first half of the season opener at Boston College with a knee injury. Ernest Cole won a tight battle with Cathlyn Clarke for the starting role at the other corner. Both saw ample playing time through the first nine games but true freshman Allan Barnes overtook Cole for the other starting post. late in the season and even earned a game ball after making a team-high 12 stops in the win at Wake Forest. Terrance Smith was the teams lone returning starter from 2002 as he again manned the right safety post. Junior John Fletcher earned the other safety spot during fall camp. Two other true freshmen, Dontá Moore, and Jahi Smith found themselves in the mix for playing time in the defensive backfield along with redshirt freshman safety M.J. Estep who was the teams top nickel back.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
THE CROCODILE PUNTER
Senior Adam Coles, a native of Gladesville, Australia and a former Australian Rules Football player, made a solid transition to the American version of football and is quietly made noise in UConns record book. Coles graduates in December ranking first in UConn history in every single career and single-season punting category. Coles entered his senior campaign off of another consistent season in 2002, kicking for a 39.9 average, including a long of 64 at Miami. He picked up on the right foot (his left) in 2003, punting 57 times thus far for a school record 42.0 yard average. At Kent State, he masterfully killed two of his three punts at the Kent State two yard line in a tight game that would not be settled until overtime.
RETURNERS ROTATE ONCE MORE
UConns return game, both on punts and kickoffs, saw some personnel adjustments as the 2003 season progressed. M.J. Estep started the year as the lone deep back for kickoffs and averaged a solid 20.0 yards for the two that he returned. Estep was replaced by Jason Williams for the Boston College game after Williams recovered fully from a shoulder injury suffered during fall camp. Williams has done a solid job in that role, earning a game ball on special teams at Buffalo after an 82-yard kick return that was stopped just shy of becoming UConns first kickoff return touchdown since 1998. Due to a nagging injury, Williams was replaced as the kickoff returner at NC State by true freshman Allan Barnes so he could get some more plays in as a wide receiver. Barnes shined brightly in his collegiate kickoff returning debut, averaging 39.5 yards on his two kickoff returns. Starting with the Akron game though, UConn switched to a two-deep formation on kickoffs with Barnes and Brandon Young as the returners. Meanwhile, the punt return chores have already come full circle. David Sanchez began the year in that role but was lifted for Young when Young recovered from a hamstring injury suffered during fall camp. Young played well against Boston College, averaging 6.5 yards per return, but was replaced by Sanchez at Buffalo after muffing consecutive punts in the second quarter. Sanchez finished the season the teams starting punt returner.
START SPREADING THE NUZIE
Replacing three-year starting place kicker Marc Hickok, redshirt freshman Matt Nuzie had a roller-coaster ride of a season of epic proportions. Nuzie started out strong in UConns wins over Indiana and Army. He then faltered, missing 10 of his next 12 field goal tries, including two each of 34-yards or less against both Boston College and Buffalo. True freshman Graig Vicidomino was also given a hard look at this point of possibly filling the place kicking post but didnt help his chances by missing a PAT try against the Hokies and two field goals against Lehigh. Nuzie secured the starting role after hitting on all three of his point after attempts against NC State and adding a 21-yard field goal. He then hit on two of his three field goal tries at Kent State and both of his extra point attempts. Nuzies season reached a crescendo against Akron when he drilled a 27-yard field goal as time expired to give UConn a 38-37 win, earning him a lift on his teammates shoulders off of the field and a gameball in the locker room. In addition to improved field goal work, Nuzie also hit on 31 consecutive PAT tries late in the 2003 season, the second longest streak in school history, one which was snapped against Western Michigan on a 37-yard PAT try after UConn was flagged for a celebration personal foul following a TD. He scored a career high 15 points in UConns win at Wake Forest, hitting three field goals and all six of his PAT tries.
MOVIN ON UP TO THE EAST SIDE
The Huskies moved into brand new Rentschler Field in East Hartford for the 2003 season with the stadium opening its doors on August 30 when UConn defeated Indiana, 34-10. Conveniently located within miles of Interstates 91, 84 and 384, Adriaens Landing and downtown Hartford, the new home of the Huskies lies on 75 acres of land donated to the State of Connecticut from the historic Pratt & Whitney Airfield by company founder Frederick Rentschler. The new stadium boasts a capacity of 40,000 with 38 luxury suites in a massive press box tower which helps enclose the natural grass field. The $91.2 million construction project is an integral part of Governor John Rowlands economic development program for the Hartford metro-area. While UConn football will serve as the primary tenant, the facility will also attract other prominent events to Hartford. Rentschler Field hosted two concerts by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, September 16 and 18. The opening ceremonies for the State Games of America were held at Rentschler Field on August 8.
40,000 HUSKY FANS CANT BE WRONG
UConn sold out its season finale against Rutgers, drawing an even 40,000 fans to Rentschler Field. It was its second sell out of the season, joining the 40,000 who also attended the Boston College game on Sept. 13. Overall, UConn played to 93-percent of capacity in its first season in East Hartford, drawing 222,356 fans, or an average of 37,059 per game. UConn finished the year ranked 40th in the nation in attendance based on percentage of capacity, just ahead of Clemson, Kansas State and Texas A&M.
CONNECTICUT HAS NATIONS FASTEST GROWING FAN BASE
With an increase in attendance of 134% or 21,252 fans from the 2002 season to 2003, UConn made the nations best improvement in home game attendance. UConn moved from 15,807 fans per game at Memorial Stadium in 2002 to 37,059 fans per game in Rentschler Fields inaugural season of 2003. The 134% jump more than doubled the next biggest gainer, Troy State, which improved 57% from its 2002 numbers. The 21,252 jump in average attendance was well ahead of second-place Pittsburghs 14,515 fan per game surge. In 2004, three of the top five teams in the nation in this category will be members of the BIG EAST Conference as , in addition to UConn and Pittsburgh, Rutgers was fifth with a jump of 9,276 fans per game.
RENTSCHLER FIELD NATIONS NEWEST STADIUM
Rentschler Field is the only new stadium in the country to open for college football this year. Prior to UConn, the last Division I-A team to open a new facility was Pittsburgh which inaugurated Heinz Field, along with the NFLs Pittsburgh Steelers, in 2001. The last opening of a true college football facility came in 2000 when SMU began play at 32,000-seat Gerald J. Ford stadium after years of using the Cotton Bowl for home games.
RENTSCHLER FIELD PROVES FRIENDLY FOR HUSKIES
With its 38-31 win over Rutgers on Nov. 9, UConn completed a 5-1 home record in its inaugural season at Rentschler Field. The five home wins in 2003 tied the school record for a single season. Five times UConn won five games in a season at Memorial Stadium, going 5-0 in 1986 and 1989 and posting a 5-1 mark in 1987, 1995 and 1998.
STARTING A COMMOTION
Swelling interest in the Husky football program as it gradually moves up into BIG EAST play is perhaps best evidenced by a rise in attendance. For the 2003 season, UConn sold approximately 24,000 season tickets at Rentschler Field, a staggering sum considering that the 2001 season ticket base was around 5,000. In 2002, UConn, fueled by a season-ticket base of 11,300, ranked 23rd in the nation by playing to 97.58% of Memorial Stadiums 16,200 seat capacity. UConn needed just three games in its new home to record a season attendance of 113,431, by far eclipsing the previous record of 94,843 set last fall.
UNIVERSITY RECEIVES GOVERNORS LEADERSHIP AWARD
The University of Connecticut was presented with the 2003 Governors Leadership Award on Dec. 3 for its efforts in the first year of play at Rentschler Field. The award, presented by Governor John Rowland, was given at the Ninth Annual Team Connecticut Rally and was accepted by UConn President Dr. Philip Austin and head football coach Randy Edsall. The annual award is given to an individual or group that had done an outstanding job in bringing together a wide spectrum of people and resources to bear on a significant development issue in Connecticut. UConn was cited for working hard to assure that Rentschler Field was a significant economic resource for the greater Hartford region and a point of pride for the high quality of life in the area that business leaders seek.
RENTSCHLERS GLORY DAYS ARRIVE
Proving that the new home of UConn football isnt hiding on the backstreets of the national road map, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played two shows there on September 16th and 18th. On its recently completed 14-month, 123-show world tour to support its triple Grammy Award winning album "The Rising," Rentschler Field was the only facility where the band played multiple shows whos primary tenant is a collegiate team.
RADIO/TV COVERAGE NOTES
THE UCONN HUSKIES: MUST SEE TV
UConn had seven of its 12 games this fall broadcast on live television in Connecticut, for a total of 15 live telecasts over the past two seasons, despite not having a conference television package as an independent school. WFSB-TV 3, Hartfords CBS affiliate, carried five games as the Huskies battled Indiana, Boston College, Kent State, Rutgers and Wake Forest on WFSBs airwaves. The Virginia Tech game aired on ESPN Regional as the BIG EAST Conference Game of the Week and aired locally on WTXX TV-20 in Hartford. The YES Network broadcast the Akron game live from Rentschler Field to its cable audience in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and eastern Pennsylvania. Also, FOX Sports Net Pittsburgh picked up WFSBs feed of the Kent State and Rutgers games and rebroadcast them that night.
PLENTY OF FOLKS ARE TUNING IN
The Nielsen numbers continue to grow as the Huskies set a football school record when the Wake Forest game pulled down an 8.7 rating in Hartford on WFSB despite a very lopsided 51-17 score. WFSB also recorded a 23 share for its coverage of the UConn-Boston College game on Sept. 13, a UConn football record. The previous high for UConn football on WFSB had been set just two weeks prior when the Indiana game garnered a 6.6 rating and 19 share. In all, UConns five games on WFSB averaged a 6.7 rating and a 17.8 share in the Hartford TV market. Both numbers were increases from 2002 when UConn averaged a 4.3 rating and an 11.6 share, both of which were record highs at the time.
HUSKIES PLAY THE BCS FIELD
UConn faced opponents from three different BCS Conferences this past season, playing teams from the ACC (NC State and Wake Forest), BIG EAST (Boston College, Virginia Tech and Rutgers) and the Big Ten (Indiana). Over the past two seasons, UConn has faced members of five of the six BCS conferences, also playing against the Big 12 (Iowa State) and SEC (Vanderbilt) last season. UConn presently has no scheduled games against the BCSs sixth member, the Pac-10.
HUSKIES BEAT THE BCS FIELD
UConn defeated teams from three different BCS conferences in 2003, topping members of the ACC (Wake Forest), BIG EAST (Rutgers) and Big Ten (Indiana). Nationally, UConn was one of just 12 teams to beat teams from three different BCS conferences during the 2003 regular season. In addition to the Huskies, the impressive list also includes Florida State, Iowa, Miami (FL), Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Purdue, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Including UConn's 37-20 win in last year's season finale at Big 12 member Iowa State, the Huskies have defeated teams from four different BCS conferences in their last 13 games.
BYE BYE BYE
Weeks off have been a rather foreign concept to the Huskies of late and 2003 was no exception. For the 13th time in the last 21 seasons, UConn rolled through its schedule without a breather. The stretch includes a run of eight straight such seasons from 1983-90. This may not be a bad thing as UConn is 1-4 under Randy Edsall after a bye week and just 2-6 since 1991. UConn was one of eight teams nationally without a bye this year, joining Akron, California, Louisiana-Lafayette, Minnesota, Purdue, Stanford and UCLA.
The Huskies have become quite familiar with the Mid-American Conference over recent years and the Huskies played four more teams from the league this past fall posting a perfect 4-0 record. UConn defeated Buffalo, Kent State, Akron and Western Michigan this season. Overall, eight of the 14 MAC schools won four or fewer conference games this year. UConn posted a 3-1 record in four games against MAC members in 2002. UConn also faced four MAC teams in 2000, posting a 2-2 record, and three MAC schools in 2001, going 1-2. UConn stands at 17-10 all-time against MAC schools and has won seven of its last eight meetings with MAC schools. Ten of UConns last 19 wins overall have come against MAC schools.
WHO ARE YOU? WHO? WHO? WHO? WHO?
As a part of their move to Division I-A status the Huskies are facing revamped schedules. In 2002, the UConn football slate featured six first time opponents for UConn and 2003 was no different as the Huskies faced four opponents for the first time in Indiana, North Carolina State, Western Michigan and Wake Forest and went 3-1 in those games. In 2002, the Huskies opposed Georgia Tech, Ohio, Miami (Fla.), Vanderbilt, Florida Atlantic and Iowa State for the first time ever on the gridiron, posting a 3-3 record in these games. In fact, fellow-Division I-A neophyte Buffalo and Rutgers were the only 2003 opponents that UConn had faced more than 10 times. Entering the season, a total of just 61 games had been played all-time between UConn and its 2003 opponents combined. In addition to its new opponents, UConn faced its first ever member of the Big Ten Conference in Indiana and is faced its fourth and fifth members of the ACC in North Carolina State and Wake Forest.
For just the third time in school history, and the second consecutive season, UConn played 12 games in a season this past fall. After a 51-17 win at Wake Forest on Nov. 15, the Huskies are now a perfect 3-0 in their 12th games. In 2002, UConn posted a 37-20 upset win over bowl-bound Iowa State in Ames in the Week 12 season finale. The first such instance at UConn came in 1998 when UConn was chosen for the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs after a 9-2 regular season. UConn defeated Hampton, 42-34, in the first round on Nov. 28 in Storrs in that inaugural 12th game. The Huskies fell at Georgia Southern the following week in its only 13th game to a season. In 2003, as in 2002, schools were allowed by the NCAA to schedule 12 games because there are 14 Saturdays between the first permissible playing date and the last playing date in November.