SMU is getting ready to host their conference opener in Dallas this Saturday against the UConn Huskies. Most of us know a little about the Huskies, but not enough to be an expert. Well today, I brought in that expert as Aman Kidwai, of The UConn Blog will help us gain a better understanding of the Huskies for this Saturday’s games
Nick Armstrong: After a disappointing tenure under Bob Diaco, what are your thoughts on the Randy Edsall era so far and the new coaching staff?
Aman Kidwai: Initial reaction of the hire was subdued until he made two really solid hires at offensive and defensive coordinator. Paired with some recruiting wins, the quality of the staff drove some excitement for the start of the season and the possibility of this year not being a full rebuild. Unfortunately, through three games, it looks more like a rebuild. I don't know that a lot of people have turned on Edsall, but being 1-2 and losing in this way has been pretty disappointing.
NA: Name two players, one on offense and one on defense, that can make an impact on Saturday's game.
AK: Defensively, senior linebacker Junior Joseph has the ability to make plays against both the run and the pass. He's a three-year starter who has been a tackling machine. Offensively, RB Arkeel Newsome is the home-run hitter. When the Huskies can get him the ball in space, good things happen.
NA: What positions have the most and the least depth?
AK: The most depth appears to be at wide receiver and running back, where a rotation of solid players have had a chance to contribute. The least is the secondary, which is having a lot of problems.
NA: What can we expect from Bryant Shirreffs or David Pindell?
AK: Bryant Shirreffs will be the starter. You can expect a tough gamer who is a decent threat with his legs but often inaccurate with his arm, especially with deeper balls. He can get the offense moving, but it isn't always pretty.
NA: Is there any fan concern since losing to ECU, and the teams only win coming against an FCS team?
AK: Absolutely. Expectations dropped after the drubbing at UVA but with a home loss to ECU it's hard to project more wins on the remainder of the schedule. The defense can't stop anyone, which is a problem. Offensively, the team looks as good as it has in years, but that progress is negated by defensive struggles, which are a rare sight for Husky fans.
NA: The offense looked much improved Sunday despite the loss. What made the unit better?
AK: I think just time with the new system and getting Shirreffs acclimated to first-team duties. They're finding the best ways to get Newsome involved and working in younger playmakers such as receivers Keyion Dixon, Quayvon Skanes and running backs Kevin Mensah and Nate Hopkins, all of which are true or redshirt freshmen.
NA: Final Prediction?
AK: SMU seems very much to be on the rise, while UConn is looking like a team in the early-to-middle stages of a "blow it up and rebuild" situation given the youth across the Huskies' two-deep depth chart. I don't have a final score, but I think SMU wins pretty comfortably in a high-scoring affair.