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    Friday, December 01, 2023

    UConn vs. South Florida game capsule

    Location: Rentschler Field, East Hartford

    Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

    Records: UConn 1-5, South Florida 3-4

    Last game: UConn won at Rice, 38-31, Saturday, Oct. 7; South Florida lost to Florida Atlantic, 56-14, Saturday

    Series: UConn trails, 12-5, losing eight straight to former American Athletic Conference foe

    Players to watch: UConn, r-jr. QB Ta’Quan Roberson (85 for 141, 970 yards, 7 TDs, 2 int.), so. RB Victor Rosa (75 carries, 399 yards, 2 TDs), grad WR Brett Buckman (22 catches, 261 yards, 1 TD), r-jr. WR Cam Ross (23 catches, 230 yards, 1 TD), so. TE Justin Joly (23 catches, 291 yards, 1 TD), r-jr. DT Jelani Stafford (20 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 1 fumble recovery); r-so. DE Pryce Yates (20 tackles, 7 for loss, 2 sacks); sr. LB Jackson Mitchell (55 tackles, 1 int. 1 fumble recover for a TD), grad LB Noah Plack (31 tackles), jr. DB Durante Jones (36 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack), r-jr. George Caratan (44 yards per kick)

    South Florida, so. QB Byrum Brown (136 for 228, 1,662 yards, 12 TDs, 5 ints., 506 rushing yards), graduate RB Nay’Quan Wright (404 rushing yards, 3 TDs), graduate WR Sean Atkins (43 catches, 493 yards, 3 TDs), jr. WR Naiem Simmons (24 catches, 438 yards, 3 TDs), graduate DB Daquan Evans (35 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3 sacks), graduate DB Logan Berryhill (32 tackles, 2 ints), sr. LB Jhalyn Shuler (47 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery), sr. LB DJ Gordon IV (38 tackles, 2.5 sacks),

    Noteworthy: Roberson’s improved play at quarterback in recent weeks has allowed the coaching staff to dive deeper into the playbook. His two touchdown passes of 41 yards and 59 yards vs. Rice represented the team’s longest scoring strikes of the season.

    Quotable: “Having that confidence in your quarterback as a coordinator allows you to just open things up,” coach Jim Mora said. “You’re not as hesitant to call things that you want to call to get the ball down the field because you know he’s going to make the right decision and your receivers are going to catch the ball.”

    Four down territory

    • Mobile quarterbacks have given UConn fits this season. The outcome of the game may depend on whether the Huskies can contain two-way threat Byrum Brown who leads the AAC in rushing yards (512). He’s been responsible for 116 of his team’s points.

    • UConn’s offense has come to life, averaging 35.5 points in the last two games.

    “We attribute it really to all three phases getting involved, finally,” Mora said. “The defense getting a takeaway. The special teams getting a takeaway. The offense making some big plays. That’s when you’re able to put points up on the board, when you play that way.”

    The Huskies should be able to continue to pile up points against a USF team that allows an average of 36.1 points and 433.9 yards of total offense per game. The Bulls have given up 56 points in each of the last two games.

    • The Huskies are a plus-five in turnover margin in the last two games. They forced a season-high four turnovers against Rice. In the last two games, defensive back Chris Shearin has two interceptions and Mitchell has an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

    • Will UConn show any rust coming off a bye week? To hopefully prevent that, the Huskies didn’t take as many days off as in the past during the break.

    “I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was concern,” Mora said. “It’s something that you address in practice. Sometimes it’s hard to get a team going again.”

    Extra points: Annual Cancer Awareness Day. … UConn is 1-2 vs. AAC teams since becoming an independent in 2021. The Huskies were a member of the American from 2013 through 2019. … Common opponents: Rice (UConn won, USF won 42-29 on Sept. 23). .. Game of note: South Florida played nationally-ranked Alabama tough before losing 17-3 on Sept. 16. … Up next: UConn visits Boston College at noon on Oct. 28.

    — Gavin Keefe

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