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Today at No. 120: UCONN Coach: Bob Diaco (2-10, entering second season, 2-10 overall) 2014 record: 2-10, 1-7 in American Athletic Conference; 10th place...

college football lock pickToday at No. 120: UCONN

Coach: Bob Diaco (2-10, entering second season, 2-10 overall)

2014 record: 2-10, 1-7 in American Athletic Conference; 10th place in American

Look back: First-year UConn coach Bob Diaco, a former hot shot assistant at Notre Dame, was just laying the foundation for the Huskies program last season. The team struggled throughout the season, recording just two wins — defeating nonconference opponent Stony Brook and upsetting eventual league co-champion UCF. The Huskies ranked last among FBS schools for red-zone offense and No. 123 out of 125 schools in total offense, but they fared better on the defensive side of the ball. The team ranked No. 49 out of 125 teams on total defense. UConn ended the season on a four-game losing streak after its big win against the Knights.

Offensive starters returning: 6

Offensive starters lost: 5

Defensive starters returning: 8

Defensive starters lost: 3

Key losses: CB Byron Jones, WR Geremy Davis, WR Deshon Foxx

Top returnees: QB Tim Boyle, RB Ron Johnson, OL Richard Levy, OL Adreas Knappe, LB Graham Stewart, LB Marquise Vann, LB Vontae Diggs

Strengths: There’s no question UConn’s greatest strength was on the defensive side of the ball and that should continue to be the hallmark of Diaco’s team headed into the 2015 season. Although the Huskies lost Jones, a defensive back who broke the NFL combine record in the broad jump recently, the team welcomes Florida State transfer E.J. Levenberry to join experienced linebackers Marquise Vann and Vontae Diggs. Levenberry collected 60 tackles in 25 games during the past two seasons with the Seminoles. UConn is also looking to get some solid production from its tight ends.

Weaknesses: UConn is still searching for a starting quarterback. Bryant Shirreffs, a transfer from NC State, got the start for the Huskies in the spring game and completed 13 of 24 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown pass to Sean McQuillan. The lack of a true starting quarterback will undoubtedly be the biggest issue for the Huskies to tackle in August along with addressing the passing game following the loss of Geremy Davis, who tallied 2,292 career yards and seven touchdowns at UConn, depth at the running back position and continuity on the offensive line.

Outlook: UConn still faces a long climb toward joining the conference elite and a tough schedule certainly won’t do much to help the win column. Seven of the first nine opponents on the Huskies’ 2015 schedule boasted winning records last season. UConn’s nonconference schedule is challenging, with road contests against BYU, Missouri and a home game against Army. After ranking near the bottom nationally in total offense last season, UConn is hoping to generate more production with the hire of new offensive coordinator Frank Verducci, a former tight ends coach at Northern Iowa.

2015 schedule

Sept. 3 vs. Villanova

Sept. 12 vs. Army

Sept. 19 at Missouri

Sept. 26 vs. Navy

Oct. 2 at BYU

Oct. 10 at UCF

Oct. 17 vs. USF

Oct. 24 vs. at Cincinnati

Oct. 30 vs. East Carolina

Nov. 7 at Tulane

Nov. 21 vs. Houston

Nov. 28 at Temple

Vincent Rizzo

College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com

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