UConn football fans come into this season expecting an improvement from the 3-9 stinker the Huskies laid down last year. He who shall not be named took a promising football program and drained the life out of the team and it's fanbase. New head coach Bob Diaco should make an immediate difference with his improved strength, conditioning and nutrition programs so at least the same players we had last year are stronger, faster and have more endurance. Will this translate to more wins? The schedule is not so tough and with seven out of twelve games at home and an eighth at Yankee Stadium, at the very least they will have the crowd behind them in 75% of their games. That should count for something right?
At any rate, we surveyed The UConn Blog staff with a simple question: Over/Under 5.5 wins this year?
Matt Stypulkoski, new to The UConn Blog, Daily Campus Class of 2014:
Under. While the Huskies' schedule sets up to give them a chance at bowl eligibility, there are seemingly too many questions facing the team. Among them: Will the offensive line, which was dreadful for much of last season and has just one returning starter, manage to improve against the odds? Who will start at quarterback and will they be able to retain the role for the duration of the season? How will a defense that lost Shamar Stephen and Yawin Smallwood to the NFL Draft cope, while also implementing Diaco's new system? Those questions just skim the surface, but they seem to add up to a win total less than six. Look for either four or five victories this season.
Over. There are five tough games on the schedule: BYU, Boise St., ECU, UCF, Cincinnati. A win in any of those would be spectacular, and we could maybe pull it off against a BYU team which will be missing multiple key players but we can't count on any of those for wins. Out of the remaining seven, Stony Brook, Army, Memphis, and Temple have to be wins. And then two of SMU, Tulane, USF would get us to six. I know it's optimistic and I know there are question marks, but whoever our QB is it will be someone with experience. With a solid running attack and good defense, we should be able to stay in games which we actually have no business of being in, which is why I think we could sneak out a win against one of the first four teams I mentioned. I know, I know, I am forever the optimist but I really think it'll happen in Year 1 because this isn't a full on rebuild. We actually had some decent recruiting classes before last year so the talent cupboard is not as bare as you may think.
Dan Madigan, Current Daily Campus Staff, UConn Blog Contributor:
Over. I think it is fully reasonable to see the Huskies going bowling and winning six to seven games in their first year under Bob Diaco. Despite a weak offensive line, the Husky offense features a solid core of running backs and one of the nation's best wide receivers in Geremy Davis. The defense will have its ups and downs but the strong secondary led by Byron Jones should be enough to carry the team to its first bowl game since 2011. Diaco's enthusiasm has my energy bucket full for a much better season than last year.
Ben Cantor, The UConn Blog Football Correspondent:
Over. In what is a relatively weak American Athletic Conference with no clear favorite, UConn should be able to improve on their 3-5 conference and 3-9 overall record by returning the very few bright spots from what was a very depressing year. UConn gets back the only receiver to have a 1,000 yard season in Geremy Davis, most of their linebacking core highlighted by the extremely motivated Florida transfer Graham Stewart, and the most talented safety Bob Diaco says he has ever been around in Sophomore Obi Melifonwu. These players are going to create some excitement around the program just like first year head coach Bob Diaco has been able to do, and this excitement should translate into more victories on the field.
In a quick glance at the schedule, I see 6 games that are absolutely winnable for this UConn team including Stony Brook, at USF, Temple, at Tulane, Army, and at Memphis. They won't necessarily win all 6, but I believe UConn has the ability to steal a few games in the other half of the schedule, possibly upsetting BYU in the home opener, or even winning home games against UCF, Cincinnati, or SMU towards the end of the year. Two games that will poise the biggest challenge for this UConn team is against Boise State and at East Carolina. This is a monumental year for Diaco and UConn, as the college football landscape is rapidly changing and UConn must fight to not get left behind. I believe they will answer the call with a convincing first season under Diaco's leadership.
Andrew Callahan, Resident Football Expert:
Under. The momentum from the end of 2013 was strong, but graduation robbed the Huskies of their primary contributors in two areas they struggled most in: offensive line and pass rush. From this view, in addition to facing those issues, there are also too many question marks in critical areas (quarterback, the trenches, special teams) to definitively project six wins. That being said, the product the 2014 Huskies put on the field ought to be markedly better and markedly cleaner. It just isn't likely to translate to a significant jump in record--yet.
What do you think?