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    Monday, March 04, 2024

    UConn vs. Utah State

    Location: Rentschler Field, East Hartford

    Kickoff: 12 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

    Records: UConn 0-4, Utah State 1-3

    Last game: UConn lost to Duke, 41-7, Saturday; Utah State lost to James Madison, 45-38, Saturday

    Series: UConn trails 2-0, losing last season on the road by a 31-20 score. The Huskies led 14-0 before giving up 24 second quarter points.

    Players to watch: UConn, r-jr. QB Ta’Quan Roberson (47 for 90, 500 yards, 3 TDs, 1 int.), so. RB Victor Rosa (42 carries, 218 yards, 2 TDs), grad WR Brett Buckman (18 catches, 205 yards, 1 TD), r-jr. WR Cam Ross (13 catches, 105 yards), so. TE Justin Joly (13 catches, 151 yards), r-jr. DT Jelani Stafford (16 tackles, a team-best 6.5 for loss); r-so. DE Pryce Yates (16 tackles, 6 for loss, sack); sr. LB Jackson Mitchell (a team-best 32 tackles), grad LB Noah Plack (25 tackles, 2.5 for loss), jr. DB Durante Jones (26 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), r-jr. George Caratan (44.7 yards per kick)

    Utah State, fr. QB McCae Hillstead (46-for-79, 619 yards, 7 TDs, 3 ints.), jr. RB Davon Booth (42 carries, 238 yards, 2 TDs), Sr. WR Terrell Vaughn (38 catches, 347 yards, 6 TDs), jr. WR Jalen Royals (19 catches, 197 yards, 2 TDs), so. DB Ike Larsen (30 tackles, 1 int, 1 fumble recovery), jr. LB MJ Tafisi (29 tackles, 3.5 for loss), r-jr. LB Anthony Switzer (27 tackles, 1 int.)

    Noteworthy: UConn has dropped six straight dating back to last season, the third longest current losing streak in the country behind Virginia (7) and Nevada (14).

    Quotable: “The attitude and effort was how it has to be if you ever want to have a chance to succeed,” coach Jim Mora said about last week’s loss to nationally-ranked Duke. “That’s why I feel optimistic about where things are headed, which may sound crazy… Even though we’re sitting here at 0-4, my innate feeling based upon my experiences in this profession tells me that we’re still doing the right things. We’ve just got to do them better and we’ve got to continue to recruit the best players that we can and develop the heck out of them.”

    Four down territory

    • Utah State has a potent offense, averaging 37.8 points (6th in the country) and 430.5 yards per game. The Aggies are 25th in the country in rushing yards per carry at 5.3 per game.

    “They spread the field,” Mora said. “They make you defend width and depth really well. That’s a challenge.”

    But Utah State’s defense has been shredded, allowing 34 points per contest.

    Can the UConn offense, which is scoring 13 points per game, finally have a breakout performance? The Huskies have been dreadful, averaging 286.3 yards per game and only 4.4 yards per play.

    “There’s a lot of issues,” Mora said.

    • Count running back depth as one issue after reserve Brian Brewton and starter Devontae Houston decided to leave the program, with the latter bolting earlier this week. They both plan on entering the transfer portal. That leaves sophomore Victor Rosa as the starter and graduate Jalen Mitchell and sophomore Cam Edwards as back-ups.

    • The Huskies have spent nearly the entire season playing from behind. They’ve led just once this season, taking a 7-0 lead on the season-opening drive against North Carolina State.

    • UConn has forced just one turnover — a fumble — through four games. Just one of many categories that the Huskies need to improve on.

    Extra points: Third straight home game for the Huskies, who are 0-3 at The Rent this season. Schedule stiffens after Saturday with four of the next five games on the road. … UConn is 1-6 all-time against Mountain West Conference competition. … Stafford, a 303-pound defensive lineman, has rushed three times for seven yards, picking up two first downs and scoring his first career TD. … Utah State junior DB Gabriel Bryan is from Windsor. … In its only win, the Aggies scored 78 points vs. Idaho State. Losses came against Iowa, Air Force and James Madison. … UConn and Pittsburgh agreed to a two-game series, with the Huskies playing on the road in 2027 and serving as hosts in 2028. The two teams last met in 2012.

    — Gavin Keefe

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