The wait is almost over. UConn will be kicking off later today, but before that happens, your friends at The UConn Blog dot com would like to share their wild and wacky predictions for this season. We made some offensive guesses earlier this week, and have a roundtable coming out later today. Enjoy!
Over/Under: 14.5 TFL + Sacks for Luke Carrezola
Carrezola rocked 14.5 in 2015 and 14 in 2016. Will he remain consistent or surpass his previous season’s totals?
Aman Kidwai: Over - I was leaning towards under because I think a lot more people will be involved in the defensive havoc than in the past, but Carrezola is a beast. Even as an end with his hand down, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to bust into backfields.
Dan Madigan: Over- I think Carrezola will be a monster this year, and I really like how he fits in with Billy Crocker's new defensive scheme. While I don't think it's a definite that he will rack up a lot of sacks, he will still get his fair share and wreak havoc in the backfield too and get plenty of tackles for loss.
Daniel Connolly: Over - Carrezola has hit the 14 sack/TFL mark each of his last two seasons and I'm expecting him to have a monster senior season. It felt like he was a little misused the past few seasons and I think he's a sleeping giant on that defensive line. Not only do I think he'll reach the over, by the end of his year he could finish with one of the best seasons for a pass rusher in UConn history.
Over/Under: 10 team interceptions
Huskies posted an impressive 21 picks in 2015 but regressed to the mean hard with just seven in 2016. With five defensive backs and a more aggressive approach from the front seven, the secondary may have more chances to take advantage of broken plays.
Aman: Over - Interceptions tend to fluctuate and depend on luck more than people care to believe, but I think Jamar Summers and Tre Bell could reach this total on their own. Don’t sleep on Tyler Coyle either. That dude is a playmaker who knows how to win the ball when it’s in play.
Madigan: Over- 2015 was a fluky year in a good way for the UConn defense, and 2016's dramatic drop was due to a little bit of regression from Jamar Summers. This year, I think Summers returns to form and gets around 5-7 picks this year. Throw in a few other interceptions from the rest of the team and 11 or more is certainly attainable.
Connolly: Under - Overall, I don't think the defense is going to be bad but there are a lot more question marks in that secondary than answers. Most people are expecting a dramatic turnaround from Jamar Summers, but we don't know if that's going to happen. Tre Bell should be good, but he hasn't played in a game in over a year. The safety position never settled down last season, and they lost Obi Melinfonwu. I think they'll be able to hold their own, but they won't get their hands on a ton of balls.
Over/Under: 26 points per game allowed by the defense
Aman: Over - I think we’re going to see UConn in a lot more shootouts than we’re used to. In another shocking turn of events, the Huskies should be fairly competitive in those games, whereas previously that was a far cry from their preferred style of play.
Madigan: Under- Say what you want about Bob Diaco, but he recruited well enough defensively to give the Huskies a good foundation to build off of. Crocker's new scheme combined with an improvement from Summers and a strong linebackers unit should be able to put together an improved defense that will help keep the Huskies in each game this season.
Connolly: Under - The 28.7 points-per-game last season was likely inflated by the blowouts at the end where they gave up 30+ points to East Carolina, Boston College and Tulane. The defense should be solid this season and while they may run into trouble if a pass-heavy team comes along, they should keep most teams under that mark this season, especially if the offense is functional enough to give them some rest.