UConn defense could spell trouble for Temple

UConn's Byron Jones and Yawin Smallwood (33) stop Rutgers' Jawan Jamison. The Huskies rank sixth in total defense.
UConn's Byron Jones and Yawin Smallwood (33) stop Rutgers' Jawan Jamison. The Huskies rank sixth in total defense. (Getty)
Posted: October 10, 2012

Running back Montel Harris is emerging as a threat for Temple, but he will be tested Saturday by one of the Big East's best defenses.

Connecticut (3-3, 0-1 Big East) is ranked in the top 15 in four defensive categories among Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

"I think they are fantastic," said Owls coach Steve Addazio, whose team will face the Huskies in East Hartford, Conn. It will be homecoming at UConn.

"Not a lot of people are running the ball well against them," Addazio said. "So you'd better be able to open that thing up and throw."

Allowing just 248.82 yards per game, Connecticut ranks sixth nationally in total defense. The Huskies are eighth in rushing defense (82.33 yards per game), 11th in passing defense (166.5) and 15th in pass effeciency defense (103.66 rating).

Inside linebacker Yawin Smallwood leads the conference in tackles (62) and tackles for losses (11) and is third in sacks (four).

Defensive end Trevardo Williams has the most sacks in the conference with 61/2.

"We've got our hands full," Addazio said.

The Owls (2-2, 1-0) might have to rely heavily on Harris now that he is fully healed from a strained hamstring.

The ballyhooed Boston College transfer is a rugged runner, who is also dangerous catching passes out of the backfield.

Harris was named Big East offensive player of the week after rushing for 133 yards and two touchdowns Saturday in a 37-28 win over South Florida. Seventy-four of his yards and both of his touchdowns came in the fourth quarter.

Harris' backfield mate, Matt Brown, is listed as day-to-day after injuring his left ankle.

"Matt is an awfully competitive guy," Addazio said. "So if anybody's got a chance to play, it's certainly Matt Brown. In his mind, there's no doubt that he'll be playing. So we'll see how that plays out."

Temple vs. Rutgers. Temple's conference game against Rutgers on Oct. 20 at Lincoln Financial Field will begin at noon. The Big East Network will televise the matchup as the conference's game of the week. It will be shown locally on 6ABC.

Honors for linebacker. Freshman linebacker Tyler Matakevich was named to the Big East weekly honor roll. He had a career-high 15 tackles against South Florida in his first career start.


Saturday's victory bumped Temple up to sixth in Keith Pompey's Big East power rankings. philly.com/owlsinq

Temple at UConn

Saturday at 1 p.m.

Line: UConn by 51/2


Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog, Owls Inq, at www.philly.com/owlsinq

 

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