It took just one game, a dominating 37-0 performance over FBS newcomer UMass, but the UConn defense is already considered one of the conference's best units. So it makes sense that the accolades have begun rolling in, too. The Big East announced Monday that linebacker Yawin Smallwood was the defensive player of the week.
Details via the news release:
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - University of Connecticut redshirt sophomore linebacker Yawin Smallwood (Worcester, Mass.) was named the BIG EAST Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.
Smallwood keyed a Connecticut defense that turned in its first shutout since the 2007 season with a 37-0 win against Massachusetts. He had a team-high seven tackles to go with a sack, 3.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup as the Huskies didn’t allow the Minutemen to cross midfield. Connecticut allowed just 59 yards of offense — the fewest of any Bowl Subdivision team in Week 1 — and limited Massachusetts to just three first downs and an average of 1.3 yards per play.
In case you were wondering: Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib earned Offensive Player of the Week honors, and conference newcomer Temple had kicker/punter Brandon McManus as the Special Teams Player of the Week.
The Huskies' D, meanwhile, has lived up to its reputation. We wrote back in June that there were at least five NFL-capable players on the roster, four from the defensive side of the ball. And that list didn't include redshirt sophomore Smallwood (only juniors and seniors are eligible to enter the NFL Draft). But if Smallwood continues to progress we'll be mentioning him in the same breath as Sio Moore, Trevardo Williams, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gratz.