Game-By-Game Predictions for UConn's 2014 Season
After an impressive run that featured four seasons with at least eight wins and a Fiesta Bowl appearance, the Connecticut Huskies have went on a downward spiral, compiling a 13-23 record – including a defining 15-point loss to FCS Towson in the 2013 season opener at home.
Enter former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who brings life to a program that is mud on the shoe of a school with a title-winning basketball team.
This is a start from scratch project, and Diaco is the right man for the job. He’s young, energetic, brings the defensive mentality that has given UConn success in the past, and has distinct knowledge of the game and recruiting after spending four years under Brian Kelly at Cincinnati and Notre Dame.
However, starting from the bottom means that there will be tons of growing pains, and sometimes you must take a step back before you can take a step forward.
Think about it in similarity to starting a new business; the plan that was first drawn up doesn’t always go accordingly, and a lot of times there are bumps and bruises along the way. Adjustments are made and then noticeable results begin to form.
In most cases, it takes a few years for an investment to start profiting. That will be the case for Connecticut and its venture with Diaco, who has little to work with on both sides of the ball in 2014.
Here’s a game-by-game prediction for the Huskies’ upcoming season:
8/29 – vs. BYU: LOSS
A young, transitioning defensive front seven against the incredible dual-threat ability of BYU quarterback Taysom Hill and a 10th-ranked rushing offense? I’ll take the latter.
9/6 – vs. Stony Brook: WIN
Yes, Connecticut was one of the handful of FBS teams to lose to what should have been an inferior FCS school in 2013. But Towson went on to win 13 games and lose to North Dakota State in the NCAA Division I Football Championship, whereas Stony Brook won just five games (but came this close to beating Buffalo?).
9/13 – vs. Boise State: LOSS
Boise State is also getting its fresh start with Bryan Harsin after moving on from the Chris Petersen era, but is still well-stocked and should be in contention for the Mountain West Conference title.
9/19 – at South Florida: LOSS
This is where experience becomes a factor. In the team’s first road game of the season, it must travel 1,300 miles to a place with warm weather and beautiful women; some of these younger players might see it as a mini-vacation. While USF might not necessarily be more talented than UConn, it’s a year ahead of the Huskies in the rebuilding process and are set up for a few wins.
9/27 – vs. Temple: LOSS
UConn’s first win of the 2013 season came against Temple on the road by a score of 28-21. With questions along the defensive front, I expect Owls’ young star P.J. Walker to find lots of open space and shred a secondary that gets no help from its pass rush.
10/11 – at Tulane: LOSS
Diaco’s first bye week as a head coach will be to prepare for an extremely aggressive and effective Tulane defense that will surely cause plenty of problems for a Connecticut offensive line that replaces 103 career starts – and was already pretty bad to begin with.
10/23 – at East Carolina: LOSS
I hate to say it, but this matchup has bloodbath written all over it. It’s going to take some serious coaching and focus to get out of Greenville without getting beat by 40.
11/1 – vs. Central Florida: LOSS
The Huskies’ offense should be improved this season, especially at skill positions. But there are huge question marks on the offensive line, and neither Casey Cochran or Chandler Whitmer have proved themselves as reliable quarterbacks. UCF is going to have one of the best defensive units in the conference, if not the best, and could make things ugly early if it gets to a turnover-prone UConn offense.
11/8 – vs. Army: WIN
Jeff Monken will scatter a few good wins here and there throughout his career with Army, but the program’s inability to recruit the size and speed required to compete at a high level will continue to halt success. This is a game that Connecticut needs to and should win.
11/22 – vs. Cincinnati: LOSS
If the Huskies want any chance of staying competitive with Cincinnati – and avoiding a repeat of last year’s matchup – then they’ll need to put consistent pressure in the backfield. If not, Gunner Kiel will throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns at the minimum.
11/29 – at Memphis: LOSS
A difficult schedule may keep Memphis from bowling in 2014, but there’s no doubting the direction of the program. UConn blew the Tigers out on its home turf last season, but Memphis played very well against top AAC competition and should be well prepared to rebound this time around in the west side of Tennessee.
12/6 – vs. SMU: WIN
The pass-happy Mustangs aren’t going to like playing in the mid-70’s one week and then below-freezing with snow the next. UConn will take advantage of SMU’s frozen hands and end the season on a high note.
2014 Connecticut Projected Record: 3-9 (1-7)
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