The Cincinnati Bearcats will become reacquainted with old friends this weekend, as they being American Athletic Conference play against the UConn Huskies. Since UC is having a reunion, it only seemed fitting that Down the Drive have one with its UConn counterpart on this here SB Nation network. That would be The UConn Blog. We spoke with Aman Kidwai, who you should follow on Twitter.
Down the Drive: During a pretty rough start to the season, are there any bright spots you can see?
Aman Kidwai (The UConn Blog)The offense is doing well. It’s currently ranked in the 76th in S&P+ offensively and has some upside as quarterback David Pindell continues to get comfortable with the weapons he has around him. First-year offensive coordinator John Dunn deserves a lot of credit for the job he’s doing.
DTD: David Pindell has given UConn a real dual-threat at quarterback. How has that changed how the team has approached offense?
AK: He’s a big-play threat with his arm and his legs, and is a hell of a lot more talented than all or at least most of his predecessors under center for UConn. Pindell has a good arm strength and accuracy, does a nice job of keeping passing plays alive while looking downfield, and is no stranger to designed runs either. He makes the offense dynamic, though there are a number of talented players around him as well.
DTD: While I know Pindell can run, what are your impressions of him as a passer?
AK: He’s been great. This year he looks a lot more confident and continues improving. He’s completing 66% of his passes and did that with three games against pretty good to very good teams.
DTD: Outside of Pindell, who are the offensive playmakers the Bearcats should be prepared for?
AK: Kevin Mensah at running back will definitely be someone to keep an eye on. He’s a solid runner who can do a little bit of everything. At receiver, Hergy Mayala and Kyle Buss are the top targets so far. Mayala is more of a possession guy while Buss operates out of the slot. Tight end Tyler Davis has also been productive.
DTD: The Huskies are allowing 54.5 points per game. What has been the biggest weakness of the unit that has led to such lofty scoring totals? Can it be fixed?
AK: When you’re giving up that many points per game, and allowing 9.8 yards per play, everything is the biggest weakness. Teams are having no problem running or passing against this extremely young UConn defense. Only time will fix it, reportedly.
DTD: Do you think defensive coordinator Billy Crocker, or anyone else on the staff, will be fired before the season is over? Hey wait, come back!
AK: I do not. Because of the youth movement, poor recruiting from the previous regime, and the change in scheme, this staff has bought itself some time. We knew it would be ugly, not this ugly, but I doubt anyone is fired during the season.
DTD: Is there still hope for this season? If not, what is your confidence level for the program over the next five years?
AK: The hope for this season comes at the end of the schedule which goes UMass, @Tulsa, SMU, @ECU, Temple) that they give us something to look forward to in 2019, and deliver a couple of wins in the process. Pindell is talented enough to win some of those on his own, and that slate is not too far from UConn in terms of competition, so that’s where we are. To think of reaching bowl eligibility would mean winning either all five of these games or 3-4 and stealing 1-2 from Cinc[y], Memphis, USF... that’s just not happening.
Nobody was expecting bowl, but nobody was expecting worst defense ever. Hopefully they don’t end that way.
DTD: BONUS QUESTION: Which three teams will join the UConn women’s basketball team in the Final Four next spring?
AK: Notre Dame, Louisville, Baylor
AK: UConn alum and reigning World Series MVP George Springer and the Houston Astros will both repeat.