Last week, in the wake of the Blue-White game, we took a look at UConn's offense. It wasn't pretty. Partially because the wide receivers and quarterbacks were underwhelming during the spring, but also because that perception didn't change in the spring game. Much of that can be blamed on the weather -- it was windy and rainy -- as well as coach Paul Pasqualoni installing a new offense.
The Huskies' defense, however, has been nothing short of stifling. The unit recorded two interceptions for touchdowns during the Blue-White game and played the entire spring at a high level. That will have to continue into the fall if UConn is to be competitive while the offense works out the kinks.
For any defense, it starts up front with the pass rush. If you can get to the quarterback, everything else takes care of itself: the hurried throws, the sacks, the turnovers. ESPN.com's Big East blogger Brian Bennett ranks the conference's best pass rushers and UConn defensive end Jesse Joseph is No. 3 (after WVU's Bruce Irvin and Pitt's Brandon Lindsey).
Joseph is underappreciated nationally but really came on strong at the end of last year. The Huskies' defensive front is loaded with talent and experience, and Joseph should cause a lot of problems, along with teammate Kendall Reyes.
Joseph was a starter the previous two seasons, and had nine sacks and a forced fumble in 2010.
And like the offense, the defense is also changing under Pasqualoni. As the Journal Inquirer's John Silver noted following the Blue-White game, the new defense is: "…more scheme change than personnel change as nine starters return and most of the two-deep personnel. Under defensive coordinator Don Brown, UConn is going to a much more aggressive and play-making defense that will utilize 3-4 and 4-3 fronts and also blitz with impunity. The defense returns the entire secondary as well as its defensive line led by Kendall Reyes at tackle and Jesse Joseph at end.
Linebacker Sio Moore, who had 103 tackles as a sophomore, added "This defense right here, we will be in your face. … It’s going to be straight up, you are going to stop us or not. Coach Brown says solve your problems with aggression."
Put differently: the Huskies defense will be the Huskies' offense's best friend next season.