Friday, October 12, 2012
Who will transform tomorrow?
By Matt Fortuna
Is it cheating if I pick a unit -- say, a three-headed monster -- instead of one individual player?
Because I think Connecticut's three starting linebackers are going to collectively have a very strong day tomorrow against Temple.
Yawin Smallwood, Sio Moore and Jory Johnson have been a force for the Huskies this season, keying the nation's No. 6 overall defense and the country's No. 8 rushing defense.
Smallwood, in particular, has been on a tear, notching 62 tackles through six games, including 11 for loss and four sacks. He has been the Big East's defensive player of the week twice already.
Moore and Johnson have combined for 86 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, with Johnson making the conference's honor roll the past two weeks.
UConn is facing a Temple team riding high off its Big East-opening win, and the Owls have utilized a strong ground attack that got new life last week. Boston College transfer Montel Harris rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns in place of the injured Matt Brown.
The Huskies have surrendered more than 100 rushing yards in each of their past two games, but I think this is the week they get back on track. Despite Chris Coyer's breakout performance last week -- he completed 16 of 20 passes -- Temple's passing game still has not proved a whole lot, and UConn's defense is much better than South Florida's.
I expect the Huskies to blitz often, take away the run game early and force the Owls to try to beat them through the air. That starts with those three guys in the middle, and they have a pretty good track record so far.