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UConn football vs. Utah State Aggies: How to watch, by the numbers, what to watch for

Year 1 of the Jim Mora era begins on Saturday afternoon in Logan, Utah.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Utah State Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

KICKOFF: 4 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCERS: Alex Faust (play-by-play) and Petros Papadakis (color analyst)

RADIO: UConn IMG Radio Network; Varsity Network App; 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)

RECORDS: UConn (0-0), Utah State (0-0)

LAST WEEK: It is the first game for both teams in the 2022 season.

POINT SPREAD: Utah State - 26.5

OVER/UNDER: 59.5 (Odds via Borgata)

SERIES HISTORY: The UConn Huskies and Utah State Aggies have met once before on the gridiron. The Aggies came to Memorial Stadium in Storrs in 2001 and beat the Huskies 38-31.

DEPTH CHART: UConn; Utah State


Fun With Numbers

1,037: Number of days between FBS wins (as of game day)

2: This is UConn football’s second year as an independent in football after seven years in the American Athletic Conference

120: Tackles by junior linebacker Jackson Mitchell last season. Mitchell is on the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, given to the top linebacker in college football.

4,534: Elevation of Logan, Utah above sea level

12: Number of consecutive home openers won by Utah State against non-conference opponents

36: Touchdowns thrown by Utah State QB Logan Bonner last season

57: Players returning for UConn from last season, which includes 12 starters (six on both sides of the ball)

What to watch for

Who takes snaps under center?

Jim Mora named four quarterbacks as the starters with “OR” designations on his first depth chart release of the season. Taquan Roberson was listed first, followed by Cale Millen, Zion Turner, and Tyler Phommachanh, who may still be feeling some lingering effects of last year’s season-ending injury.

Roberson is expected to start and take the majority of the snaps, but that isn’t a guarantee. Someone else is likely to see time under center, but will it be Phommachanh or freshman Zion Turner, who may be a legitimate contender for the starting role? Millen was a backup at FCS Northern Arizona and has never taken a snap as an FBS QB, so he seems like the depth guy.

Will UConn show any signs of progress?

Last year’s Week 0 opener on the road against a quality Mountain West opponent did not go well, at all. The Huskies were shut out as the offense looked completely incompetent and the defense gave up 45 points, with 31 coming in the first half.

With the additions made to the roster via transfer and the retention of many key contributors from last year’s team, we do expect this year’s Week 0 performance to be better than last year’s Fresno State game. UConn should be able to get some points on the board and make a few more stops than it did last year. If that happens, it will be a good first outing for Jim Mora’s Huskies.

Defensive question marks

The Huskies no longer have a defensive coordinator, but the bigger question marks are on the field. The D-line is replacing Travis Jones and Lwal Uguak, two disruptive figures who are now playing for the Baltimore Ravens and TCU, respectively. UConn’s front seven does appear to be reasonably solid, and has a chance to at least keep the Utah State run game in check. In the passing game, the secondary will be tested by an experienced quarterback and offense. There will likely be some big plays and breakdowns here, but if UConn can keep those to a minimum, that would be a good sign.

New-look offense?

Hope always springs eternal with a new head coaching hire, but many Husky fans are probably more excited about the change UConn made at offensive coordinator from last year. Out goes the guy who was a good O-line coach and never had been an OC before, in comes Nick Charlton, who has had some success at the FCS level with Maine and seems to understand the modern version of football required to succeed today. He’s no superstar, but should represent an upgrade from 2021.

Of course, in the first game of the season, we won’t see the whole bag of tricks, but based on the formations, play calls, and situational decisions, we’ll at least start to get some idea of what the style is offensively.