UConn arguably has the best defense in the Big East and they showed it against Buffalo. The Bulls were missing their top offensive prospect in RB Branden Oliver and could not get into a rhythm. Buffalo had to rely on trick plays like hitch-and-pitches and jet sweeps to compete with the Husky defenses.
As for UConn, Blidi Wreh-Wilson and his running mate at cornerback Dwayne Gretz shined, Trevardo Williams flashed, and a handful of other notes here from this Big East vs. MAC game.
MDD Staff Scout: Alex Farnworth
#8 OLB Trevardo Williams
-Lines up outside with hand on the ground about 45% of the time
-Forces QB back inside, strong enough to bring them down with arm tackles while still engaged in blocks
-Very disciplined, forces runs back up the middle
Overview: Williams stayed on his side of the field for the most part and consistently forced the scrambling quarterback to the middle of the field. Williams would go unblocked on several plays, when that happens he needs to get the sack, no questions asked.
#3 OLB Sio Moore
-Blows up the run game
-Not fooled by play-actions
-Recovered a botched snap on a punt
-Untouched on several blitzes, fails to swat the pass
Overview: Moore was an anchor in the Husky run defense in this matchup. Although the stat sheet doesn’t show it (6 tackles, 0.5 for loss), Moore took on blockers allowing other players to make plays in the backfield. Moore’s forte is definitely run defense, but showed solid versatility throughout the game.
#5 CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson
-Physical in press coverage
-Missed several tackles on QB-run plays
-Plays the outside WR
-Mirror’s the route, runs with the WR step for step
Overview: UCONN has a very physical cornerback tandem that excels in man coverage. Wreh-Wilson is 6’2 who loves to pressure the WR at the line of scrimmage and s rarely fooled. Buffalo WR struggled to get open all game.
#94 TE Ryan Griffin
-Lines up on the line almost every play
-Blocks using mostly his upper-body strength
-Quick out of his breaks, blew by LBs on a seam route for a 30+ yard score
-Breaks through arm tackles with ease
-Doesn’t chip the DE when he goes out for a pass
-Lined up in shotgun at split back in third quarter. Ran to the flats, no target
Overview: Griffin was not used a whole lot in this matchup; he only had one target and his playtime might have been affected by the amount of running Connecticut did. Griffin shows great speed as a big tight end (6’5), but needs to improve in pass protection.
#7 CB Dwayne Gratz
-Got turned around a few deep-balls, none were caught
-Long arms, deflects touch passes with ease
-Good recovery speed
-Steps up in the run, makes tackles at the line of scrimmage
-Caught up on a play-fake with 3:12 left in the fourth quarter, bailed out by bad throw
Overview: Gratz is more raw than Wreh-Wilson but is still a shut down corner in the Big East. Gratz’ ball skills are not up to par and he plays the ball in the air poorly but has the size and speed to recover and deflect passes at the last second. As a #2 corner, he steps up into the run game on the weak side but needs to improve his form-tackling; arm tackles won’t cut it in the NFL.
#6 WR Michael Smith
-False start called last in the first half
-Zero targets through first half
-Redzone target in mid-third, caught on sideline, fought to the 3 yard line
Overview: The Huskies did not pass the ball a lot and when they did, it was mostly check-downs or designed screens. Smith stayed focused all game and was ready to make plays when thrown to in the second half. A physical, possession receiver, who does not go down easy.
#63 OG Adam Masters
-Lines up as right guard (listed as a tackle on depth chart)
-Very quick in his pulls; gets downfield
-An undersized mauler
-Athletic, but, needs to get stronger
Overview: Masters needs to bulk up if he plans to play at the next level. Playing right guard he was overpowered at times but did good at getting out in front of the play on screens. Listed at 298 but plays like he is 240, needs to hit the weight room, could be coached into a great guard.
#40 DE Steven Means
-Shows ability to hunt down RB’s in the passing game
-Low center of gravity, doesn’t allow OL to get leverage
-Drew a lot of double teams
-Fights off his blocks, pursues the run even past the line
-Involved in a lot of gang tackles, needs to show he can do it himself (4 tackles, all assisted)
Overview: Means is a 6’4, 250 pound defensive end who shows the ability to play as an edge-rusher in a 3-4 NFL defense. He lacks explosiveness out of his stance but stays low and gets around blockers. He needs to improve his tackling.