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Thursday, June 13, 2013
Weak and strong: UConn

By Andrea Adelson

We are almost done with our series looking at the weakest and strongest positions on each team in the league. Up today: UConn.

Strongest position: Defensive line.

Yes, it took me a few minutes to pick a group because there are questions at virtually every position on this team, both on offense and defense. But a look at returning starters and returning experienced players shows the defensive line has a chance to continue to be one of the better groups in the American. Having said that, losing Trevardo Williams is absolutely huge. He led the league in sacks over the past two seasons. So there is a major hole to fill. The Huskies also lost starting tackle Ryan Wirth. But there is depth across the line, and UConn does return end Jesse Joseph, who has 30-plus starts in his career. Also returning: Shamar Stephen, with 70 career tackles, Angelo Pruitt, Julian Campenni, Tim Willman, B.J. McBrydeKenton Adeyemi and Elijah Norris. UConn has the players to get a good rotation going, and to continue to be disruptive up front -- even with two starters gone.

Weakest position: Running back/offensive line.

I could make a case for every position on offense. Quarterback and receiver are not exactly strengths. But UConn is a running team first and foremost. And, well, UConn could not actually run the ball last year. It takes two to get an effective ground game going, so I am calling out both positions here. Lyle McCombs took a step back in 2012 in part because the offensive line in front of him did not do a very good job blocking. You are not going to win many games if you average 2.5 yards per carry. McCombs returns for 2013, and so does nearly every starter on the offensive line. The Huskies have changed offensive coordinators, so the hope is they can be much more effective running the ball, while opening up the offense with a bit of forward passing. But given what we witnessed out of this group last year, running back/offensive line faces much steeper expectations and much more pressure headed into the season. There is no depth behind McCombs, and no real depth behind the starting five up front. Needless to say, this group has to be massively improved for the Huskies to be any better on offense.

For more on this series, click here.