Connecticut (2-1) at Western Michigan (1-2)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 22, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dwight B. Waldo Stadium (30,200) -- Kalamazoo,
Michigan. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: UConn 1-1, Western Michigan
1-0 Away Record: UConn 1-0, Western Michigan 0-2. Neutral Record: UConn 0-0,
Western Michigan 0-0. Conference Record: UConn 0-0, Western Michigan 0-0.
Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Connecticut Huskies will try to win for the second time on
the road in as many weeks when they invade Kalamazoo to square off with the
Western Michigan Broncos in a non-conference affair at Waldo Stadium.
After its first two games were at home, UConn traveled to College Park to
take on Maryland and former head coach Randy Edsall last week. The Huskies
came away with a 24-21 win in the contest and are now 2-1 in the early
season. Connecticut played a game on the road against a MAC foe in week four
last season, posting a 17-3 win against Buffalo.
Western Michigan will be playing its second home game of the season and will
hope to recapture the offensive firepower of that 52-21 win over Eastern
Illinois in this matchup. The Broncos did not fare as well in two road games
against Big Ten foes Illinois and Minnesota. In the loss to the Golden
Gophers last weekend, the Broncos fell 28-23 to put them at 1-2 on the
Last season the Broncos came into Rentschler Field and downed the Huskies
38-31 despite a 300-yard passing performance from Johnny McEntee. The win
evened the series at 1-1.
Consistency was the key for the UConn offense in its win over Maryland. The
Huskies scored in each quarter of the game and had seven different drives of
at least five players including a 10-play, 76-yard drive that took up nearly
10 minutes in the fourth quarter and ended with what turned out to be the game
Despite last week, UConn's offense has not been very effective in terms of
yards production. The Huskies are ranked last in the conference in yards per
game (278) and that includes Temple and Cincinnati, which have each played
only two games this season.
Running Lyle McCombs is the squad's one star player and the back
currently ranks sixth in the conference with 236 rushing yards on the
season. He is coming off a season-high 94 yards rushing in the win over
Maryland. Nick Williams has been a dynamic backup for McCombs as well as a
dangerous return man. In the game against Maryland, Williams had 112
all-purpose yards on just four touches.
The rushing attack accounted for most of the offense in the contest, as the
Huskies managed only 70 yards passing, led by Chandler Whitmer, who completed
10-of-16 passes for 68 yards.
While the offense has been near the bottom of the league it has been
Connecticut's defense that has pushed it to an early 2-1 record. The Huskies
are allowing only 10.3 points per game and an impressive 174.0 total yards per
game, which is tops in the Big East and third in the nation. The Huskies are
especially tough against the run, allowing only 153 yards to opponents on the
ground this season.
In the win over Maryland, UConn allowed 205 total yards, a 4-for-14 conversion
rate on third down, while collecting six sacks. Yawin Smallwood led the attack
and continued his strong season with 14 total tackles, including a game-high
four for loss, three of which were sacks. Smallwood was named Big East
Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Sio Moore also had three sacks
in the game as he and Smallwood have combined to form one of the best
linebacking tandems in the country.
Western Michigan came up just short in a 28-23 loss to Minnesota but still
had a solid offensive showing. Although it was off the squad's normal clip
for the season (421.3 ypg), the Broncos finished with 374 yards in the loss
to the Gophers.
The Broncos like to pass the ball and keep the ball in the hands of
quarterback Alex Carder. The senior is currently second in the MAC with 812
passing yards after he completed 24-of-44 passes for 209 yards and a score
last time out. Carder also threw an interception, an issue he has struggled
with this season, with five picks already.
Running the ball has not been as big a priority for the Broncos but after
last week that strategy may have to be rethought. Dareyon Chance ran the
ball 29 times for 144 yards and a score, while the team as a whole had 165
yards on the ground. It was Chance's first career 100-yard game and the
first by a Bronco this season.
Jaime Wilson launched himself to the top of the MAC in receiving with a
10-reception, 117-yard game against Minnesota. The wideout now has 330
receiving yards and 29 receptions this season both good enough for the top
spot in the conference. He is also tied for the national lead in receptions
with Marqise Lee of USC.
Western Michigan has been the best team in the MAC in terms of yards allowed
this season (329.7) but that hasn't translated into wins. Against Minnesota
the Broncos surrendered 397 total yards and a perfect 3-for-3 conversion rate
in the red zone. All three attempts resulted in touchdowns for the Gophers.
Although the team had six tackles for loss in the game, led by a pair from
Travonte Boles, the Broncos were unable to get consistent pressure and
finished with just one sack. Justin Currie led the team with nine tackles.
So far UConn's defense has made up for the shortcomings of the offense, but
that weakness could get exploited in the near future. Unfortunately for the
Broncos, they do not have the type of offense or defense to take advantage of
the Huskies' lack of firepower.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 26, Western Michigan 21
09/19 10:45:03 ET