- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here are my three top storylines to watch when UConn plays at Pitt on Wednesday night:
1. More Ray Graham? It is obvious the Panthers are going to need a heavier dose of Graham. The last time out, he had just 12 carries against Utah. While you can expect the Huskies to load the box, perhaps connecting on some early passes to him out of the backfield will loosen up the defense. Graham does lead the team in receptions (30).
"That's something we've got to do is get the ball in Ray Graham's hands," quarterbacks coach Todd Dodge said. "Our offense is one that can go several different directions and play to the strengths of the team we have and those are the things we're concentrating on. Obviously we're much better when Ray Graham touches the ball 20 times a game, whether it be running it or receiving it out of the backfield."
2. Protecting the quarterback. Neither team has done a good enough job avoiding sacks. Whether the quarterback hangs onto the ball too long or there are breakdowns in protection, UConn and Pitt are the two worst teams in the league in sacks allowed. UConn has given up 12 in its last two games as it has faced a variety of different blitzes. Pitt has given up 34 total, and will make a game-time decision on whether Lucas Nix can go. How these two teams protect their quarterbacks will be vital.
3. Third down. Neither team is particularly good at converting on third down, either. Both have been in many third-and-long situations, which has contributed to the problem. UConn has the No. 1 third-down conversion defense, so how the Panthers handle that will be another big key.