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UConn’s underclassmen on offense are showing their stuff

UConn’s offensive future is in good hands, provided they can keep the group together.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

After UConn football’s 31-3 thrashing of its lower-division Fairfield County rivals Sacred Heart, the future of the Huskies’ skill position was on display.

Sophomore running back Cam Edwards took advantage of a great offensive line performance to torture the Pioneers at the second level, finishing with 12 carries for 90 yards rushing and 18 yards receiving for a career-high 7.7 yards per touch.

After the departure of Devontae Houston from the running back room in mid-October, Edwards was thrust into a larger role and flourished with it. He hit his season high in carries and yards (24 and 150 respectively) against USF in the first game after the bye week and followed it up with 89 yards against Boston College.

“[Houston’s departure] has given Edwards a chance to stand up and show how tough he is,” head coach Jim Mora said on ESPN 97.9 radio.

Since supplanting sophomore Victor Rosa as a starter, Edwards has averaged 5.5 yards per carry and taken over as the Huskies' leading rusher on the season with 516 yards on the ground, impressing with his vision behind the line and fluid, downhill running style.

Watching sophomore tight end Justin Joly go off isn’t anything new for UConn football fans, but the past three games have seen him come into his own as a tremendous college tight end.

Over the stretch of games against Tennessee, James Madison, and Sacred Heart, Joly has caught 24 passes for 223 yards receiving, adding a touchdown this past Saturday. He’s UConn’s receiving leader by a nose over the more experienced Cam Ross, with 542 yards through the air, and has worked as a successful safety blanket for Roberson.

Joly’s nine-catch, 73-yard day against Sacred Heart is nothing to sniff at, either — the Pioneers had the top passing defense in the FCS coming into the game. UConn’s star tight end found a way to poke holes in their zone and shrug off man-to-man coverage, as evidenced by his touchdown catch.

Although he’s quickly become one of the stars of this UConn football team, Joly is one of the Huskies who could potentially see interest in the transfer portal this offseason.

Kylish Hicks hasn’t gotten much run with the starters on offense yet this year, but the redshirt freshman receiver could take on a bigger role next year.

Head coach Jim Mora had Hicks pegged for a larger role in the offense during preseason camp, but Saturday marked his first catch since the James Madison game and the first touchdown of his UConn career.

Now, with the postseason out of reach, Hicks could be in line for more playing time as evidenced by the game against Sacred Heart, where he and a number of younger players saw action.

“At no point in time are we going to say ‘Well, this season’s over, so let’s play a bunch of young guys,’” Mora said. “But we will look for opportunities to give them some time.”