EAST HARTFORD, Conn. – After breaking the NCAA record for most points allowed in a season and most yards allowed per game in 2018, Connecticut will look to begin its turnaround when it hosts FCS opponent Wagner on Thursday night. The Huskies, who lost their final nine last season, will have to do so with a new man under center.
TV: 7 p.m. EST, ESPN3. LINE: Connecticut -17.5.
Coach Randy Edsall announced last week that Mike Beaudry, a graduate-transfer from Division II West Florida, would replace David Pindell, who rushed for a single-season record by a quarterback in school history last season. "Is it going to be a lot like it was last year? No, but there are a lot of things you can do with a big guy like Mike," quarterbacks coach Mike Moyseenko told the New Haven Register of the change under center. Beaudry, boasting a 6-foot-5 frame, threw for 3,215 yards in 2017 before playing just one game a season ago. Beaudry gets a favorable matchup against a Wagner defense that surrendered at least 41 points in all seven losses in 2018.
ABOUT WAGNER (2018: 4-7)
The Seahawks will have lots of new faces on offense, including graduate-transfer quarterback Christian Alexander-Stevens from Florida International, who threw for 427 yards and one touchdown last season. In addition, every starting skill-position player departed, leaving the team to rely on a pair of veterans in wide receiver Joshua Decambre and tight end Adam Giordano. Despite the offensive turnover, the defense remains mostly intact with the return of lineman Chris Williams and linebackers Cam Gill and Santioni Graham, all of whom were All-Northeast Conference preseason selections.
ABOUT UCONN (2018: 1-11)
Much of the team's historically bad 2018 defense can be attributed to youth and inexperience -- at one point the team was starting all freshmen -- and 14 players return who saw action in at least nine games a year ago. Edsall said he expects to use a plethora of defenders once again, including eight different defensive linemen. Kevon Jones, Travis Jones and Caleb Thomas are among the top-producing defensive linemen from 2018 returning for the Huskies.
1. Connecticut's defense gave up more than 40 points or more in all but two contests in 2018.
2. Wagner has never beaten an FBS team since becoming an FCS program in 1993.
3. UConn's lone win in 2018 came against FCS opponent Rhode Island.
PREDICTION: Connecticut 52, Wagner 30