With UConn’s season opener just two days away, we wanted to take a swing at some over/unders. Today we’ll go over the offense. Feel free to share your thoughts or guesses of your own in the comments!
Over/Under: 2500 Passing Yards for David Pindell
UConn has had one 2500-yard passer—Chandler Whitmer in 2012—since Dan Orlovsky left the building in 2004. Can UConn’s new hope under center reach the mark in his first year as a Husky?
Aman Kidwai: Over - The new staff recruited Pindell as the immediate answer to the school’s well-established quarterback woes and he responded by winning the job over Bryant Shirreffs. Along with the modern approach from new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, UConn’s roster gives Pindell plenty to work with in the passing game, including experienced receivers Hergy Mayala and Tyraiq Beals as well as tight ends Alec Bloom and Tommy Myers. Running back Arkeel Newsome will also be a threat out of the backfield in an offense which I think will be less reliant on the running game than previous years. I think he’ll absolutely get to 2,500 this season and should get over 3,000 next year.
Dan Madigan: Under- During Rhett Lashlee's time as offensive coordinator at Auburn, quarterbacks threw for more than 2,500 yards just once when Nick Marshall eclipsed that total single-handedly in 2014. I haven't had the chance to see Pindell in person yet, but I'm willing to bet he won't be as good as Marshall was in 2014, when Marshall spent a decent chunk of the season in the Heisman trophy discussion.
Daniel Connolly: Over - Last year, Shirreffs managed 2,000 yards despite only playing in nine games in the second-to-worst offense in the country. With Rhett Lashlee taking over, I think Pindell is more than capable of reaching the 2,500-yard plateau, even if it is a somewhat rare occurrence for the Huskies. I don't think Pindell is the second-coming of Orlovsky, but I think he'll be more than serviceable.
Over/Under: Arkeel Newsome 1200 Yards from Scrimmage
Newsome went for 1253 in 2015 but unfortunately took a step back in 2016 with 988 yards from scrimmage. The new leadership should be better at using the talent on hand, but does that mean Newsome is the focal point of the offense?
Aman: Under - I think Newsome will be a very productive player and that the offensive staff will find the best ways to use him. But I also think there will be too many mouths to feed and that Newsome won’t exactly be a feature back, with heavy doses of Nate Hopkins and Jason Thompson subbing in to keep him fresh. Newsome’s excellence this year will come in the form of efficiency—high yards per carry and yards per catch, propelled by his home-run ability—as opposed to volume.
Madigan: Over- Newsome is a truly special player that can do a little bit of everything. Although he was essentially handcuffed last season due to the revolving door of offensive coordinators in Diaco's final season, he still managed nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage. Even with last year's issues at offensive line, Newsome managed nearly as many rushing yards (715) as his breakout sophomore season, where he had 788. The decrease in yards from scrimmage came in the receiving category, but Newsome still averaged essentially the same yards per reception as 2015 but just had fewer touches. This year, Newsome will likely be the centerpiece of Lashlee's up-tempo offense, meaning Lashlee will be trying to get the ball in his hands in any way possible and making over 1,200 yards from scrimmage easily attainable for the senior from Ansonia.
Connolly: Over - I think everybody has been predicting the breakout of Arkeel Newsome for the past two seasons, but now there's tangible reason to believe it's actually happening this season. Newsome is one of the best talents in UConn history, who was horribly misused by the last regime. Now that the coaching staff, with a real offensive coordinator, understands what offense is, I wouldn't be surprised if he is one of the best weapons in the the Group-of-Five this season.
Over/Under: 22 Points Per Game for the UConn Offense
Aman: Over - UConn will face enough weak defenses and make enough offensive improvement via scheme and QB upgrade to hit this very modest baseline of competence. 22 ppg would put them at around 100th in the country last year, which would be a solid step forward.
Madigan: Under- I'm trying to be optimistic here, but I'm still traumatized from the Diaco era, so I'll believe 22 points per game when I see it. Lashlee's up-tempo offense will obviously be an improvement, and I think the Huskies will hover around 20 points per game. I'm hoping I'm wrong, but for now I'll take the under.
Connolly: Over - It shouldn't feel like a huge achievement to get over 22 ppg considering UConn has reached the mark all but once under Randy Edsall as members of the Big East. If Newsome a big senior year and Pindell proves to be an upgrade at quarterback as we expect, it should be achievable for the Huskies. I don't think they're going to become an offensive juggernaut overnight, but they'll have the ability to put up points this season.