NCF Nation: Tim Willman

UConn loses starting DE Joseph for year

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
10:20
AM ET
UConn starting defensive end Jesse Joseph is out for the season after tearing his Achilles' tendon, a big blow to the strong Huskies' defense.

Joseph was hurt against Maryland, and coach Paul Pasqualoni said the team will apply for a medical reshirt because the injury happened in the first three games of the season.

The Huskies are suddenly thin at defensive end. Top backup Teddy Jennings is also lost for the season because of a knee injury. Trevardo Williams mans the other side and already has 4.5 sacks this season. But whoever ends up replacing Joseph will have no starting experience.

Pasqualoni said E.J. Norris, Tim Willman and Kenton Adeyemi will all be in the mix to start. Norris is a true freshman; Adeyemi is a redshirt freshman. Willman has been in the program the longest but has seen limited playing time. Joseph had 12 tackles and a sack this season.

The UConn defense ranks first in the NCAA in tackles for loss, third in total defense, fifth in rushing defense, fifth in pass defense, and third in sacks. We'll see if the Huskies can continue on with their dominant play without one of their best defenders.

UConn defense starts strong

September, 5, 2012
9/05/12
4:00
PM ET
Only one game has been played, and it was against a program that is in its infancy on the FBS level.

But there were some excellent signs from the UConn defense last week.

[+] EnlargeYawin Smallwood
Michael Ivins/US PresswireHuskies linebacker Yawin Smallwood earned Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors after his big game against Massachusetts.
The linebacker group played very well, confirming what many thought would be the case with three returning starters. Yawin Smallwood was honored as Big East Defensive Player of the Week after he recorded seven tackles -- including a sack and 3.5 for loss.

The defensive line dominated up front, and the secondary looked vastly improved. And UConn was one of five schools in the entire country to post a shutout. Not only that, the Huskies are currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense, having given up only 59 yards.

Yes, it is early, but it's still something for the Huskies to be proud of because clearly they have made significant strides.

"We’re a little more experienced," coach Paul Pasqualoni said earlier this week. "At the safety position, we played two freshmen as the year went on [last season] and we didn’t have any experience at the linebacker position. So overall, we have more returning players. We’ve been in the system a full year, they know the system better and they know each other better. That to me is the biggest difference."

Now having said all that, we should know a lot more about this group after a big test this weekend against NC State, which features 3,000-yard passer Mike Glennon.

While Glennon did not get off to the best start last week -- throwing four interceptions in a loss to Tennessee -- the Wolfpack do have a veteran offensive line with four starters returning and depth at running back. Plus, UConn is going to be without tackle Shamar Stephen and top reserve end Teddy Jennings, both out with injuries.

"Losing Teddy is a big deal," Pasqualoni said. "That’s a huge loss for us. Somebody else is going to have to step it up. Tim Willman will come in; he needs to step it up. Elijah Norris played a little bit; he’s going to have to step it up. I thought Ryan Wirth played a solid game for us. I think the younger guys in there, Angelo Pruitt and Julian Campenni, they’ve got technique to improve on. They gave effort in there and at times they looked OK. They’ve got to step it up as well this week."

That may very well be the key to UConn posting another impressive defensive performance.

SPONSORED HEADLINES