UConn heads into its second season under head coach Bob Diaco with 13 returning starters, including seven on defense. The Huskies had reeled off four straight winning seasons between 2007 and 2010 — a stretch that included two conference titles and a Fiesta Bowl appearance — but look to end a string of four straight seasons without a bowl bid. UConn will face five of its 12 opponents for the first time in the 2014 season.
QB Tim Boyle is the only returning player on the roster who saw time behind center last season. QB Bryant Shirreffs, a transfer from North Carolina State and a former Northeast Georgia high school player of the year, figures to battle for the starting spot in 2015. RB Ron Johnson emerged as the Huskies’ leading rusher as a freshman last season. Johnson rushed for 429 yards and three touchdowns, while RB Arkeel Newsome and RB Joshua Marriner made contributions as freshmen as well. WR Noel Thomas had a team-high four touchdown receptions last year and is the Huskies’ top returning receiver. UConn returns three starters on the offensive line — OT Richard Levy, OT Andreas Knappe and OG Tyler Samara. C Ryan Crozier was named to the Rimington Trophy preseason watch list.
UConn could boast one of the more improved defenses in the nation thanks to the return of key players at every spot. DE Kenton Adeyemi and NG Julian Campenni anchor a veteran defensive line which returns its top four tacklers from last year. LB Marquis Vann (eighth), S Andrew Adams (10th) and LB Graham Stewart (12th) were all among the American Athletic Conference leaders in tackles. Vann finished the season with 105 tackles and seven tackles for loss. Stewart registered 94 stops with 10.5 TFL, two sacks and two forced fumbles. Adams proved to be an impact player in the secondary after he made 95 tackles with four interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
UConn will return both kicking specialists from last year. K Bobby Puyol was the regular placekicker and made 19 of 22 field goal attempts. P Justin Wain averaged 38.8 yards on an American Athletic Conference-leading 74 punts last season. Wain’s average was fourth in The American.