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Syracuse vs. Connecticut football preview: Q&A with The UConn Blog

“Friends” is a strong word. Former neighbors?

Boise State v Connecticut Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange are now 3-0 after last week’s upset over Florida State. But can they get to 4-0 for the first time since 1991? Our old (basketball) nemesis the Connecticut Huskies (1-2, 0-1 in the AAC) come to the Carrier Dome as 27.5-point underdogs, so... you be the judge.

Since we’re (thankfully) not Huskies fans, we went ahead and asked one about what to expect in this game. The UConn Blog’s Aman Kidwai (who you should follow on Twitter) joins us to talk about UConn (obviously). We also provided some responses over there, which you can read here.

‘Sup, jerks! Getting those pleasantries out of the way, how’s the AAC?

Hello, John, so nice to hear from you. The AAC is great, thanks for asking. I don’t know if you heard but we have the reigning national champions in football. Orange is an ugly color.

Despite a pretty rough start to the season for UConn, David Pindell’s put up some big numbers so far. What’s he doing so well?

What has made Pindell so dangerous is that he’s a true dual-threat. His predecessor Bryant Shirreffs racked up rushing yards too but he was mostly running for his life. Pindell has slightly better protection in front of him but also possesses better downfield accuracy, pocket presence, and mobility. On designed runs, Pindell has the ability to get big chunks of yards.

After a shaky start to his time at UConn, the former junior college transfer is starting to look really confident. He’s mostly making good decisions, even when plays break down, and could be the leader of a solid offense this year. He also has a lot of weapons to work with. If there’s one positive about the current roster, it’s that it’s not lacking for talented pass-catching options.

Connecticut v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

What happened to the Huskies’ defense against URI? Seems like they were able to move the ball pretty much at will?

The defense is very bad. We knew it would be bad, we didn’t think it’d be giving up 62 to Boise State and 49 to URI (56 to UCF felt about right) ... There are five upperclassmen on the defensive two-deep, and a lot of freshmen starting, including some true freshmen, especially in the secondary. It hasn’t helped for these kids to start their careers against UCF and Boise State, but when they struggled to stop URI... yikes.

There really is no strength to this defense right now. Last year the front seven was a bit stronger and teams could just kill the Huskies with the pass. The situation is, unfortunately, worse this year, with teams now able to run and pass at will. URI has a good offense for an FCS team, but they put up ridiculous efficiency numbers, and it wasn’t luck. It’s just a young, sloppy UConn defense on a team that is in the early stages of a rebuild.

How did you feel about the squad before the Rams game, versus after? Did a close game against an FCS opponent affect your outlook for the team?

Honestly about the same. Slightly more concerned about the defense that we already expected to be bad. With that kind of performance, it’s hard to expect UConn to contend in many games this season.

On the plus side, feeling better about the offense, as 56 points scored is a strong performance no matter the opponent. The offense also showed good signs in the opener against UCF. Given that the new OC John Dunn is new to OC’ing, this is promising.

What concerns you most about this Syracuse team? Does the level of fear depend on whether Eric Dungey’s fully healthy or not?

If the players on your offense have a pulse and all of their limbs working, they will score points against UConn. With or without Dungey, Syracuse should not have trouble moving the ball, based on what we’ve seen from UConn’s defense so far.

While the Husky defense may be the more overmatched unit, my bigger concern is that the Syracuse defense is for real and can stop UConn consistently and this becomes a blowout.

SU’s defense looked pretty good against Florida State, which was a nice change compared to the Western Michigan game. Which version of the Orange D do you expect to see Saturday?

The UConn offense against the Syracuse defense is actually a pretty interesting matchup. Florida State is clearly a mess, but still, Syracuse was disruptive in that one. I think UConn will be able to put some points on the board, though, let’s say closer to 42 than 7.

Connecticut v SMU Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Who’s the unsung UConn player that Orange fans should get more familiar with?

I’ll go with WR Keyion Dixon, a 6-ft-3 local product who played QB at Glastonbury High School, where he was also an accomplished track athlete. He’s a redshirt sophomore coming off a 33-reception season who is a deep threat but also gets the ball on end-arounds and quick routes like bubble screens and slants because he can make people miss.

It has been a relatively quiet start to the season for Dixon, who also returns kicks, but he could break a big play or two and potentially make the difference in a game.

How many days until Connecticut basketball starts?

The Dan Hurley Era begins on November 2nd with an exhibition game against SCSU.

We will see you at Madison Square Garden on November 15th - less than two months!

Prediction time: What happens in this one, and why?

I think the better team gets it done here: UConn 124, Syracuse 0


Thanks again to Aman for taking the time out to answer these. Be sure to follow The UConn Blog and check out the site too, for all things Connecticut.