Friday, September 16, 2005

Georgia Tech / UConn Game Preview

Well, I'm sitting here fighting off a bad flu that has completely knocked me out, so I'm not up for the full breakdown of the UConn game. However, I will give you some thoughts............

What would think if I told you we were about to face a team that is #9 in the nation in total offense? How about #2 in rushing offense? How about #8 in scoring offense at 48.5/game? How about #6 in rushing DEFENSE, giving up only 47 yards/game? How about #4 in pass defense, giving up only 96 yards/game? How about #2 in the nation in overall defense? How about #1 in scoring defense, having yet to give up a point? How about a team #6 in the nation in 3rd down conversions (61%)? A team that has beaten their opponents by a combined score of 97-0.

Sounds intimidating. Sounds like it's time for ESPN Primtime. Sounds like Auburn was just a warm-up. Well, you've read enough to know by now that Connecticut's 2 victories came against Buffalo and Div I-AA Liberty. Ok, not exactly football factories, but not the Mother's of Grace either.

UConn Coach Randy Edsell, the former Jacket assistant, returns to the ATL for the final in a 3-game series, as he tries to bring UConn to I-A respectability. They're getting there. The schedule may not have been much so far, but they have done absolutely everything you would possibly want to do offensively and defensively. Holding opponents completely scoreless and putting that many points on the board is impressive no matter what the level of competition. And folks, they've won 23 of their last 30 ball games. Nothing to sneeze at. They actually led the Big East in both total offense and total defense, so proceed at your own risk.

The bottom-line is that all the statistics are about to come back down to earth for the Huskies. Georgia Tech brings a speed and physicality that the Huskies have not seen yet. However, Jackets fans better not chalk up victory #3 so quickly. UConn brings some things to the table

#1 A very good running game. While the names Cornell Brockington and Terry Caulley may not be familiar names, these guys are actually one of the best 2-man RB tandoms in the nation. Can anyone name Adrian Peterson's backup? There is no doubt that beating UConn will take shutting down the running game......... again. This has to be focus #1. Brockington actually led the Big East in rushing and had some electifying games along the way. Caulley is another 100+ yard rusher as a freshman who missed all of last season due to injury. In fact, when he went down in 2003 after 5 games, he was leading the nation in rushing. Sounds like a familiar story to Jacket fans with Tony Hollings.

#2 A very decent QB. While standout Dan Orlovsky is now sitting on a bench in the NFL, new junior QB Matt Bonislawski is doing just fine. He's 29/43 for 338 yards, 4 TD's, 1 INT so far. Oh did I mention he can run also? He's a pretty mobile guy, with 97 yards rushing in 2 games as well. This will be the Jackets 3rd 1st-year starting QB to face, so watch out yet again for those INT's late in the game.

There's another problem - Eric Henderson may not play this weekend, as he's been healing from a twisted ankle. Pressuring an inexperienced QB continues to be the theme right to UConn as well, and this could be an issue for the Jackets. Darrell Robertson will certainly have a chance to shine.

A STRONG DEFENSIVE FRONT FOUR. All four starters from last season return, so this is a good group. Running out the clock in the 4th quarter could prove very challenging again with this group.

SPECIAL TEAMS. They have one of the best return men in the nation in Larry Taylor, who handles both punt and kick0ff returns. He led the Big East The Jacket coverage team better buck up or he could break a long one this week. Taylor is also the 3rd string running back.

There are some opportunities and weaknesses though........... On offense, UConn lost their 1st and 3rd best WR and the remaining group is fairly young. Brandon Young is the anchor of the group................ The offensive line only returned 2 starters, and I think we all know how important that can be. This is a group that just does not have much experience................ They only return 1 starting linebacker, and lost the Big East leader in tackles in 2004, Alfred Fincher. That kid averaged almost 12 tackles/game, so no way can they replace that. However, the guys coming in might be better athletes, but will they be better playmakers?.................. The defensive backs are athletic but very inexperienced. Only one full time starter - MJ Estep, returns. They lost another talented corner in Donta Moore, due to suspension over a litany of assualt and weapons charges against him....................

This is a full blown trap-game. I said last week that the UNC game was NOT a trap game. The trap games are UConn and Wake Forest. That's still the way I see it. The Jackets better show up. They better ber ready to play. We have better athletes, but not as much as you might think. Look for another game very similar to the first two. Look for the Jackets to try and stop UConn's dynamic run-game, try and exploit the inexperienced DB's and LB's, which means look for another 40 passing attempts from Reggie Ball. Once again, look for turnovers to be key, and once again watch to see if we can run in the 4th quarter.

This game is going to be closer than most think, but the Jackets pull out the win 31-17 and move to 3-0............... What is your prediction?

This is ACC / Big East weekend, as GT/UConn...... MD/WVU............ UVA/Syracure are all on tap................ Most importantly, you need to root for Clemson to take down Miami and put them 2 games behind Tech in the Coastal race...............

On a side note, there will be two more important visitors this weekend who the Jackets hope to land on the hoops team, 6'8" Philllip Nelson from Oregon, and 6'10" Brad Sheehan from NYC....... Both are very high on the Jackets but we need this visit to help push them over the edge........