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UConn football vs. Wagner Seahawks: How to watch, by the numbers, what to watch for

Everything you need to know going into the season opener.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

KICKOFF: 7 p.m.

TV: ESPN3

ANNOUNCERS: Doug Sherman (play-by-play), Tyoka Jackson (color analyst)

RADIO: UConn IMG Radio Network; TuneIn; 97.9 ESPN Hartford, WINE 940 AM, WGCH 1490 AM, WICC 600 AM, WAVZ 1300 AM, WATR 1320 AM WILI 1400 AM and 95.3 FM

ANNOUNCERS: Mike Crispino (play-by-play), Wayne Norman (color analyst), Adam Giardino (sideline), Bob Joyce (pregame host)

RECORDS: UConn (0-0); Wagner (0-0)

POINT SPREAD: UConn -17.5

OVER/UNDER: 70.5

SERIES HISTORY: This will be the first-ever meeting between UConn and Wagner on the football field.


Fun With Numbers

71 - The Huskies’ winning percentage in season openers dating back to 2002, when they moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS) leve (12-5).

5.0 - UConn’s average margin of victory over FCS schools since the Towson loss in 2013.

6 - The number of catches that receivers in the participation squad made last season for the Huskies.

67 - How many players that could potentially see action against Wagner, according to Randy Edsall.

98 - The number of career starts for UConn’s offensive line, which ranks 11th in the nation.

11 - Total seniors on the Huskies’ roster, tied for fourth-fewest in the country. Four of those players came to Storrs as grad transfers.

16 - UConn’s wins over FCS opponents since moving up to FBS in 2002. Their sole loss came to Towson in 2013 (16-1).


What to Watch For

Beaudry Debuts at QB

Thursday night will be UConn fans’ first look at new quarterback Mike Beaudry. The West Florida transfer won the job over redshirt freshman Steven Krajewski during training camp and will be tasked with running the Huskies’ offense under first-year coordinator Frank Giufre.

Beaudry seems to have all the intangibles — on and off the field — to be a quarterback, but he hasn’t played in a live game since 2017 and that was at the Division II level. Can he handle the jump to the FBS level under the bright lights? There may be nerves the first drive or two but after that, look to see if Beaudry can settle in, makes his reads and get the ball to his receivers.

How does the defense look?

Last season in one of UConn women’s basketball’s exhibition games, freshmen Olivia Nelson-Ododa broke out with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Geno Auriemma was quick to point out that Southern Connecticut didn’t have anyone that could actually guard her but “[she] could’ve just as easily gone out there and not done that.”

So what’s that have to do with football? Thursday night won’t tell us everything about how much UConn’s defense is improved from last season. But if the Huskies can’t stop Wagner — just like they couldn’t stop URI last season — they won’t be stopping anybody.

But if UConn can play well and hold the Seahawks under, say 24 points, then that’s a good sign that things are at least trending in the right direction.

Offensive line play

There’s been plenty of talk about how UConn should have a strong offensive line this season — and for good reason. The Huskies’ line was solid last season and is returning four starters, so theoretically that progress should only continue.

However, that one player not returning is center Ryan Crozier. The center is the quarterback of the offensive line and that loss shouldn’t be discounted. Wagner isn’t exactly an FCS juggernaut, so the line should overpower the Seahawks’ defense. And with the game at home, there won’t be any crowd noise when UConn has the ball so communication shouldn’t be an issue.

But if the Huskies get pushed around and/or struggle with communication, that’s going to be a red flag going into the FBS-portion of the schedule

Special teams starters

They may not be the sexiest of position battles (for some), but Thursday night will give us a glimpse at who kicks for the Huskies and who returns the kicks and punts. Barring a shocker from Edsall, Luke Magliozzi has the punting job locked down. After that? It’s still up in the air.

At kicker, the battle is between Clay Harris and Noah Iden, with Harris holding the edge as of Sunday according to Edsall. At kick returner, the JI’s Neill Ostrout predicted on The UConn Pod that Ardell Brown and Quayvon Skanes were the likely candidates.