For the first time in the Dino Babers era, Syracuse football is off to a 3-0 start after a dominant 30-7 win over Florida State last Saturday. Now the attention turns to a former Big East rival in UConn and even though the Huskies lead the all-times series (officially) 6-2, this season has been a very different story. Connecticut comes into the matchup with a 1-2 record and have been outscored by a combined 87 points through their first three games, but that doesn’t mean that the Huskies don’t have some talented guys out there and these three are the ones to watch.
If the Huskies are going to have any chance of beating SU on Saturday, then they’re going to have to run the football effectively and that all starts with starting running back Kevin Mensah. The sophomore out of Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley, MA is averaging a touch under 100 yards a game this season and he’s a huge big-play threat out of the backfield. In last week’s win over Rhode Island, Mensah went for a career-high 144 yards on 25 carries and picked up his first two touchdowns of the season, including a 22-yarder at the end of the game. The week before that against Boise State, he gashed the Broncos for a 55-yard carry. That kind of big-play potential is Mensah’s best weapon and if SU lets him get out into the open field, then he could rip off a couple of big ones
While Mensah is the big-play threat for the Huskies, quarterback David Pindell is the most consistent performer UConn has on the offensive side of the ball. The JUCO transfer from Maryland has accounted for more than 64% of the Huskies’ total offense and leads the team in both rushing and passing. Putting up those kinds of numbers is impressive enough, but then you look at some of Pindell’s other metrics and start to understand what makes him so good. Even though his team got blown out in the first two games of the year and his offensive line has been pretty porous, he’s still been able to keep his mistakes at a low level, completing more than 65% of his passes and only throwing three picks. He won’t wow you with his arm talent, but his ability to get outside the pocket and deliver accurate balls on the run still makes him a threat that SU will have to consider on Saturday.
Statistically, UConn has the worst defense in the entire FBS. The Huskies are allowing nearly 56 points and more than 670 yards a game this season, but there has been one piece of the Connecticut D that has impressed this year and that’s true freshman linebacker Kevon Jones. The East Hartford, CT native is currently second on the team in tackles with 25 through the season’s first two games. He’s also UConn’s most prolific presence in the backfield, totaling a team-leading four tackles for loss, all of which have come in the last two games. At 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, Jones is a physically intimidating presence in the LB corps that is only going to get better with time. If he’s already performed this way in the first three games of his collegiate career, imagine what he can do with more experience and playing time. This game against SU is going to set the perfect stage for Jones to continue his red-hot start and the Orange have to be aware of that extra dose of motivation come Saturday.