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UConn Takes on Option Happy Navy on Saturday in Maryland.

POSTED September 06, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney


TORRINGTON: Oh, the dreaded option.

Many a defensive coordinator stays up late trying to think of a way to stop the multi-pronged attack that is inherently maddening by design.

After a less than impressive win over Maine by a 24-21 score in their home opener on September 1, the University of Connecticut football team takes to the road, facing a team that loves to run the option as often as possible.

The Huskies are heading to Maryland to take on Navy on Saturday at 3:30 and face a team, even without their top quarterback, that will be very hard to slow down.

The Midshipman lost senior Tago Smith to a torn ACL in the second quarter of the team’s 52-16 win over Fordham.

Smith had been the back up to Keenan Reynolds, who re-wrote the record book a year ago behind center, had waited for his turn to guide his team will be lost for the season after he has surgery.

Even without their number one signal caller, Navy is still an awful match up for most teams based on their depth and fullback Chris Smith, who carried the ball 10 times for 176 yards and a pair of scores in that opening week win.

Senior Will Worth will start against the Huskies on Saturday and was 3 for 3 against Fordham after coming in and threw for 78 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown pass to Toneo Gulley.

Navy ran the ball 53 times while churning up 427 yards on the ground.

It’s the old, “Here it comes, good luck stopping it” offensive approach and UConn will be tested heavily in game two.

Navy beat the Huskies by a 28-18 score a year ago in East Hartford behind Reynolds who was a nightmare to defend against.

UConn got by the Black Bears on Thursday night by scoring the game’s last 10 points over the final 6:36 of the fourth quarter.

Their offense took a long while to get going after being led almost exclusively by quarterback Bryant Shirreffs in a first half that saw the second year signal caller take off from the pocket far too often.

In the later stages of the came when UConn came back, Shirreffs was more patient, slid around the pocket a bit more giving his receivers a better opportunity to get open and it was effective.

When the dynamic back field combination of Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson got going, so did the offense for the Huskies.

Noel Thomas was a force at wide receiver with nine catches good for 70 yards while Tyler Davis broke into action with a pair of catches good for 21 yards.

Only one throw went to one of the two starting tight ends as Tommy Myers caught one for 15 yards in the second half.

If Shirreffs is your leading rusher, as he was on Thursday with 95 yards gained, the offense is not performing the way the coaching staff, led by third year head coach Bob Diaco wants it to.

Johnson (65 yards) and Newsome (40 yards) have to be given running room by an offensive line that was spotty in the opener, if the UConn offense is going to perform on a consistent basis.

Justin Wain was again far too busy in the opener with five punts but he averaged just over 42 yards per kick and dropped three inside the Maine 20-yard line.

Bobby Puyol kicked his first ever game winner with 11 seconds to go, a 37-yarder that allowed the Huskies to avoid a very hard to explain potential first game loss.

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