In their second home game of the 2021 season, Army football is on the quest to add another win to their schedule and go 3-0. Last week’s match-up against Western Kentucky was a win, but could have easily gone the opposite direction in the second half. In theory, UConn (0-3) should be just another victory notch for the Black Knights, but Jeff Monken’s side has a number of mistakes to clean up before Saturday.
The Huskies, on the other hand, have a unique challenge of their own. This is UConn’s first full football season after having all of their games canceled last year due to COVID-19. The football team also left the AAC to become an independent, allowing their other athletic teams, namely basketball, to be part of the Big East — which has no football league. Sitting at 0-3, UConn has had a rough year so far after being shutout by Fresno State and Purdue, and losing their season opener to FCS side Holy Cross.
Army offense vs. UConn defense
Army has a number of rushers that have emerged over the past few weeks to UConn’s possible detriment. Tyrell Robinson and Anthony Adkins both got a touchdown apiece against WKU, and Jakobi Buchanan got to the red zone twice too. Now, no one is forgetting the early fumble in the first drive against the Hilltoppers or the two fumbles against Georgia State Panthers in the first week. While two of UConn’s three games have been shutouts, the team currently holds their opponents to just 21 points during the first half, a notable stat against an Army team that nearly lost last week’s contest in the last quarter.
However, it’s unlikely UConn defense is formidable enough to correct for those slip ups.
Sophomore LB Jackson Mitchell leads the team with 26 tackles, 15 of them during the Purdue game. Next up, is sophomore DL Travis Jones who leads the team with two sacks and three tackles for loss.
Overall, the Huskies defense is currently allowing just 4.3 yards per carry. But Army also averaged 5.1 rushing yards against WKU and 3.9 against Georgia State. It’s not a close contest, but UConn's defense will likely be their saving grace if any, this Saturday.
Army defense vs. UConn offense
Our friends over at The UConn Blog have noted that Huskies QB Jack Zergiotis might not be the plan of attack when Saturday’s game kicks off. The sophomore started against Fresno State and Holy Cross, wherein the latter he completed 17 of 41 passing attempts, threw for 174 yards. He recorded three passing touchdowns, but three interceptions, too. That leaves mostly like Steven Krajewski under-center. Krajewski threw for 99 yards and averaged 3.8 yards against Purdue. The Huskies also have Micah Leon and Tyler Phommachanh in their quarterback slot to choose from.
But even without Zergiotis starting, we already know Army DB Marquel Broughton is slowly adding to his interception counter which could pose an issue for the Huskies who totaled 3 fumbles against Holy Cross. Army struggled against WKU last week and allowed for 435 yards through the air, but if this type of play continues for the Huskies, holding them to a low score could be an easy task for Army defense. This squad, which includes Andre Carter, who leads the country in sacks with 4.5 total, is allowing just 22.5 points per game. Army also has CB Julian McDuffie, a senior who has 15 total tackles so far.
All eyes will likely be on UConn running back Kevin Mensah, the standout senior who is averaging 48.5 yards per game. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons in 2019 and 2018, but it’s unclear if he’ll have the support to cover him in the red zone.
Essentially the Huskies have their passing and run game cut out for them, which could mean it’s time to try something totally new.
At this point, some Huskies’ fans have tried to make the case for the team to take a tip from the Service Academies and start running the triple-option, seeing as previous years have shown the team has obstacles to overcome in the recruiting department and is currently looking for a new head coach. Former coach Randy Edsall recently stepped down as part of a “mutual decision.” While not guaranteed these off-the-field challenges will have an impact when facing Army, it’s important to note UConn has much more than the spread stacked against them.
How to Watch
Kickoff: Saturday, September 18, 12:00 p.m. EST
Where: Michie Stadium — West Point, N.Y.
Watch: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Army is currently favored by 33 points, with the over/under at 48.5 points in most books.