The Huskies' offense should be much improved, we know this. But it will be the defense that will keep UConn in close games, something that didn't always happen last season. Part of that can be blamed on inopportune breakdowns, usually in the pass defense, but there was also the issue of the offense struggling to move the ball through the air.
But the Huskies enter 2012 with plenty of playmakers on D, despite losing Kendall Reyes to the NFL. Earlier this summer, NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang listed four UConn defenders among the team's top 5 NFL prospects including Sio Moore, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Dwayne Gratz and Trevardo Williams.
SNY.tv's John Silver, who previewed the defensive backs last week, had this to say about starting cornerbacks Wreh-Wilson and Gratz:
Wreh-Wilson is a terrific player and is the prototype corner with long arms and length to cover bigger receivers. He’s a late starter to the sport, and only played his senior year of high school and was nabbed by a UConn coach watching someone else. Gratz is on the other side and also possesses good size, and is very good in coverage. The two haven’t been challenged for the jobs in three years.
After Gratz and Wreh-Wilson the third and fourth cornerbacks come down to junior Taylor Mack and redshirt freshman David Stevenson. Mack and Stevenson are both ball-hawking cover guys and both appear adept at playing the nickel position. Right now, Mack is the odds on favorite to be the third corner with Stevenson gaining ground.
Wreh-Wilson spoke with ESPN.com Big East blogger Andrea Adelson recently and said the knee injury that kept him out for part of last season is completely healed and he feels better than ever. Which is good news because as Silver notes, the Huskies under defensive coordinator Don Brown will continue their blitz-happy ways in 2012, which will put a lot of pressure on the secondary.
But a secondary's best friend is pressure and that's something Trevardo Williams can do all by himself. He registered 12.5 sacks last season and has set his sights on 16 this time around. Lofty goals, for sure, but in the right scheme, with the right players around him and with a lot of luck, he can certainly improve on last year's totals. By how much is another issue but we're guessing Williams would settle for fewer sacks if it meant more consistency -- and more wins -- for the Huskies.