For a team most people figured to finish near the bottom of the Big East, the Huskies were a bright spot for the conference during the first week of regular-season action. UConn blanked UMass, 37-0, first-year starting quarterback Chandler Whitmer looked good while doing it, and the defense was its usual dominating self. Both important factors if the Huskies are going to improve on last year's 5-7 mark.
ESPN.com Big East blogger Matt Fortuna highlights the defense in his Week 1 recap:
UConn's D may be one of the league's best: The linebacker play in particular -- a position in which the Huskies return all their starters -- looked dominant. Yes, they were playing a first-time FBS team in UMass, but they made sure to give the Minutemen a rude awakening, holding them to three first downs and 59 total yards in a shutout.
One of those linebackers, Yawin Smallwood, had five tackles and a sack against the Minutemen, talked about the importance of that first win.
“It’s going to be very important," he said after the game. Our offense and defense got a lot of confidence from tonight’s win. We are ready for NC State. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
Ah, yes, the Wolfpack, who come to Rentschler Field Saturday. They'll provide this Huskies' D with its first real challenge. And a week later, UConn will take part in the Edsall Bowl in suburban Washington, D.C. when they play Maryland.
For now, the Huskies have moved on from the UMass win and are focused on NC State. And before we do the same, we just wanted to point out one more thing: ESPN.com's Big East blog does weekly bowl projections. And through the first week, they have UConn slated to face off against an SEC school in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Early September prognostications don't mean much but it's a lot better than being picked to bring up the rear in the conference.