WR Jason Williams

2004 Statistics

Coach: Randy Edsall
32-37, 6 years
2004 Record: 8-4
DUKE WON 22-20
at Boston College LOST 7-27
at Syracuse LOST 30-42
at Georgia Tech LOST 10-30
at Rutgers WON 41-35
vs. Toledo WON 39-10

2004 Final Rankings
AP-33, Coaches-36, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

Their last campaign was UConn's best year ever in many ways. Terry Edsall had a core of talented veterans who blossomed as the program did. He's avoided calling this a rebuilding year, but it'll be hard to avoid a drop-off, especially after beating a highly-touted MAC foe (Toledo) in their first bowl trip. But Edsall has his work cut out for him now.

There's plenty of talent, especially for a program on nobody's map five years ago. Brockington and Caulley provide one of the best one-two running back punches available anywhere, and Mayne and Hargrave lead a deep defense. But quarterback is a huge question and the offensive line will need time to gel. So don't look for last year's gaudy point totals. Simultaneously, the LBs are revamped, so limiting foes to 2004's numbers also becomes impossible on D, too. It all equals a coaching test that is sure to speak volumes about what to expect in other turnover years to come.

While on the topic of turnover, UConn can impact consistency issues just by winning the "oops" battle. Orlovsky threw 15 INTs to secure the Huskie's 90th place finish in TO-margin rankings, so a few less giveaways by the QB and a few more takeaways from the under-producing DBs and UConn finally has fortune working for (and not against) it.

The good news is the schedule is light early. UConn plays three non-conference patsies to give Edsall time to break in the new starters. With trips to Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and West Virginia w, a win over any one would be an upset, though replacing BC with Louisville doesn't help. But UConn is good enough now that it should reliably beat lesser Big East opponents. Doing that, combined with a win over an unpredictable Syracuse squad, would then send them bowling again, quite an accomplishment in Storrs.

A new stadium (thanks Jason), a bowl win under their belts, and a coach just signed to a long-term contract all speak to the growing stability of this program. But maintaining a run-pass balance would provide the stability to guarantee this campaign to be a winning one.

Projected 2005 record: 6-5
DE Shawn Mayne
QB - 2 DL - 4
RB - 4 LB - 3
WR - 2.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Matt Bonislawski, 7-4-0, 22 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Cornell Brockington, 238 att., 1218 yds., 11 TD

Receiving: Jason Williams, 44 rec., 661 yds., 4 TD

Scoring: Matt Nuzie, 20-28 FG, 37-42 PAT, 97 pts.

Punting: Shane Hussar, 46 punts, 36.9 avg.

Kicking: Matt Nuzie, 20-28 FG, 37-42 PAT, 97 pts.

Tackles: James Hargrave, 88 tot., 49 solo

Sacks: Shawn Mayne, 5.5 sacks

Interceptions: James Hargrave, 1 for 0 yds.; Ernest Cole, 1 for 0 yds.

Kickoff returns: Larry Taylor, 12 ret., 31.3 avg., 1 TD

Punt returns: Larry Taylor, 24 ret., 14.6 avg., 1 TD


OFFENSE: Dan Orlovsky-QB, Chris Bellamy-TB, Matt Cutaia-WR, Keron Henry-WR, Brian Sparks-WR, Ryan Krug-OT, Brian Markowski-OG, Billy Irwin-C
DEFENSE: Tyler King-DE, Alfred Fincher-MLB, Maurice Lloyd-WLB, Justin Perkins-CB, John Fletcher-SS

Best-ever Dan Orlovsky is lost to graduation, and the bid to replace him is wide open. Junior-to-be Matt Bonislawski has been waiting his turn, but is inexperienced (seven attempts) and hasn't truly laid claim to anything yet. This ex-WR/DB is the top man entering spring practice; that's mainly because of seniority, but he's big and mobile and has played reasonably well in practice. Coaches expect Bristol's own soph D. J. Hernandez, who redshirted last year, to give Bonislawski a serious challenge. Coach Edsall recruited this Gatorade Player of the Year (2003) to succeed Orlovsky, but has indicated that Hernandez needs more seasoning before he's ready to command. Both are better runners than passers, and either would, least of all, be a departure from Orlovsky's drop-back style, and moreover, a step back due to the entire offense getting used to a new system with a new leader. But a running dimension here would ultimately expand this unit's current repertoire. If neither quarterback impresses in spring ball, Edsall has said he'll pursue a JUCO-transfer or give incoming freshman Billy Cundiff - another drop-back type - a shot. Even Miami's Dennis Brown (4.55-sec 40 speed) will get his look before fall, so don't be surprised to see his name in the stats. Mountain-man (240-pounder is the first Huskie ever from West Virginia) Shane Fogarty, a former walk-on, has impressed with his leadership skills and risen up the depth chart (listed third). The entire team will go as goes this unit's developments. But early pains will eventually produce a quality result, it will just take too long for the team to reap the benefits of such and then ride them to extra wins, like they did with Orlovsky.

Running Back
The Huskies' backfield is loaded, and will have to carry the offense early on. Cornell Brockington led the Big East in rushing last year. Other guy Terry Caulley had 1,800-plus yards in 15 career games before tearing up his knee and missing all of '04. If he can return at full speed, this will be a dangerous duo indeed, one of the nation's best. Brockington, a bruiser, will get the first nod based on his more recent performance. But Edsall will be glad to have Caulley back, and the 5-7 speedster will add a breakaway dimension to this ground attack. Once-touted Matt Lawrence (4.4-sec 40-speed) is a nice third option, but will have to fight for meaningful carries. Converted-LB Deon Anderson is a big, solid blocker, but also sees three or four touches (more catches than carries) per game as the main fullback. This unit sees a disproportionate number of throws in play-action and roll-out modes, so trying to just stop UConn's ground dimension will open up these other possibilities.

Three of the Huskies top five receivers from last year have graduated, but this stable is still well-stocked. Ex-sprinter (4x100 state champ) Jason Williams is the go-to guy, and he'll stretch opposing defenses. Brandon McLean's not big, but he's impressed coaches and will be in the hunt for a starting nod. Speedster Brandon Young will be a big part of the offense, too. Expect him to breakout if fully recovered (foot injury kept him out all of 2004). Keep an eye on Seth Fogarty, too. The athletic sophomore was a heralded recruit, but has yet to contribute. Overall, the unit has slipped, and more size would help. But the potential is there for this group to produce, so the new QB play will tell all as to the extent to which this unit can help.

Tight End
Dangerous Dan Murray (ex-high jumper, 6'2" best) should see more throws. He's a big, soft-handed target (28 catches) who had UConn's second highest average per catch (14.1), so know that he goes deep, taking safeties and mismatched LBs along the way. There are no TEs on the three-deep who weigh in over 250lbs, so inside running issues exist.

Offensive Line
Graduation has battered this line, with three biggies lost. Veteran LT Grant Preston will anchor the unit, finally stepping out of the shadow of Krug and company. Big junior Craig Berry (320 lbs.) also returns, and don't be surprised when he slips over as a tackle-eligible/TE in goal line situations to bolster that weak link. Sophomore Brian Kersmanc, a first-team all-Pennsylvanian in high school, has stood out and should start at the other guard position and has the aptitude to get even better. The other spots are wide open; don't be surprised if incoming freshmen Mike Hicks and Joe Akers see time - Akers is presently slated as the starting center, a huge trust that shows his talent. The doubt we have pertains to size issues - these guys may be too big to get to the outside and then effectively block if the QB(s) take this tact. But these guys will gel quickly to bust holes for UConn's talented RBs, and then the passing developments can take care of themselves.

UConn could (and did) kill you in the air by setting foes up with the ground stuff. Bet on more runs than they had at the 47% rate just tried. While the Huskies have some depth and talent at receiver, they'll be breaking in a new quarterback and three new linemen, which is not the recipe for a big-time aerial assault like the 10th-ranked passing game they had with Orlovsky. Brockington and Caulley will "carry" this side of the ball, especially early. They've got the talent to do it on their own, but defenses will be keying on them. Whichever candidate wins the quarterback competition will be a better runner than Orlovsky, and creative play-calling should be able to keep defenses honest - the new field general just has to send a few over the top to establish that honesty. Edsall needs a quarterback to develop, and fast, if he is to have any shot at restoring his trademark two-pronged attack, and therefore wins.


TB Cornell Brockington


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Matt Bonislawski-Jr (6-4, 222) D.J. Hernandez-Fr (6-1, 208)
FB Lou Allen-Fr (6-1, 236) Anthony Barksdale-Fr (6-0, 235)
TB Cornell Brockington-Jr (6-0, 203) Terry Caulley-Jr (5-7, 187)
WR Jason Williams-Sr (5-11, 183) Brandon Young-Jr (6-0, 200)
WR Brandon McLean-So (5-10, 164) Nollis Dewar-Fr (6-3, 190)
TE Dan Murray-Jr (6-5, 250) Steve Brouse-Fr (6-4, 256)
OT Grant Preston-Sr (6-4, 309) William Beatty-Fr (6-5, 287)
OG Matt Applebaum-Jr (6-4, 295) Brian Kersmanc-So (6-5, 303)
C Trey Tonsing-Fr (6-2, 293) Keith Gray-Fr (6-2, 271)
OG Immanuel Hutcherson-Fr (6-1, 293) Donald Thomas-Jr (6-3, 284)
OT Craig Berry-Jr (6-6, 330) Matt Wood-Fr (6-4, 305)
K Matt Nuzie-Jr (6-0, 202) Graig Vicidomino-Jr (6-2, 208)



Defensive Line
This is a deep and talented bunch. Graduating DE Tyler King is a big loss, but his other line mates return. Shawn Mayne brings the heat at DE. He's quick and strong, and showed it last year with 10 TFLs. But without King, he'll face more double teams. Jason Ward filled in admirably at DE when King got hurt, and that experience will come in handy when he assumes the starting job. Big soph Dan Davis has speed and burst, and will break out to battle for starting time. The middle, though, is the key. Co-captain Deon McPhee is a big dude and has improved each successive campaign. He'll be a leader on this defense. Other DT Rhema Fuller has proven more productive, but foes can't double-team both, so expect more from inside. A pack of reserves, led by sophomores Dan Dunn and Afa Anoai, deserve playing time and will keep this unit fresh-legged. Watch for their 3.7 yards per carry allowed average to drop.

There are big shoes to fill here, too. Senior co-captain James Hargrave, the only returning starter, will anchor this unit, and based on his last two efforts, he'll do it well. He's an athletic menace who led the club in TFLs. But, like Mayne, he'll have to adjust to being the guy who gets double-teamed. Talented Taurien Sowell will get first crack at Fincher's old job. He didn't see much action last year, but played well as a weakside backup in 2003. Sophomore Danny Lasanah emerged last season, and takes over their other open spot, but ultimately, this group takes a step down, and they'll be lots to learn from Hargrave. This unit was the key to UConn's 27th-rated (total) defense, so expect the impacts here to reverberate throughout the entire team's results.

Defensive Back
This has been a strength in recent years, and it will be again in '05. Junior M. J. Estep impressed at FS. Estep brings the wood on every play, but needs to get into opponents backfields more when allowed. Dontá Moore knows the drill of keeping the play in front of him, a must for his other safety spot. Allowing just 12 TDs means ay returners also know this need. CB Ernest Cole, a hard-hitting veteran, has solidified his side's coverage needs. Allan Barnes, a fast veteran who's split time with Cole, should also see playing time if he overcomes a knee injury which cost him half of '04. Tyvon Branch, the former NY-prep track star who has wowed coaches, is the nickel back who offers no drop off when inserted. This is a deep group, strong on pass coverage. But it lacks vertical size and that becomes a challenge against those taller Big East WRs (Greg Lee of Pitt, to name just one). With the weakened linebacking corps, the backfield will have to play more run support. Therefore, expect the 19th-rated pass defense to slip, but not too far. If they can just increase the low INT total (10), many other aspects then become moot.

The losses here are big, as Fincher, Lloyd, King and Perkins were some of the best players ever to wear UConn blue. But it was a young unit last year, and most of the line and backfield starters return with valuable experience, so the transition shouldn't be too painful. Mayne, Hargrave and Estep will be the leaders whose tutelage will make or break the D. Each themselves blossomed in the shadow of a star, which reflects the strong mentoring that is part of the flow here. They will now lead the defense in their own right. The front-four should be able to pressure opposing passers, and they'll be helped by a solid cover team in the backfield. Stopping the run, however, should prove a challenge with the new linebackers and small D-backs. Overall, they won't be as stout, but they won't be a liability, either. Realistically, though, it always comes down to points allowed, and 26 total TDs equaling foes averaging 21.7 in will be hard numbers to repeat.


LB James Hargrave


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Shawn Mayne-Sr (6-3, 239) Cody Brown-Fr (6-3, 225)
DT Deon McPhee-Sr (6-1, 283) Ray Blagman-Jr (6-2, 307)
DT Rhema Fuller-Jr (6-2, 280) John Baranowsky-So (6-2, 281)
DE Dan Davis-So (6-1, 265) Jason Ward-Jr (6-3, 253)
SLB James Hargrave-Sr (5-11, 230) Justin DeRubertis-So (5-11, 218)
MLB Taurien Sowell-Sr (6-1, 235) Ryan Henegan-So (6-1, 240)
WLB Danny Lansanah-So (6-0, 240) Johnathon Smith-Fr (6-1, 219)
CB Darius Butler-Fr (5-10, 177) Courtney Robinson-Fr (5-11, 190)
CB Ernest Cole-Jr (5-10, 177) Tyvon Branch-So (6-0, 195)
SS Dahna Deleston-Fr (6-0, 193) Marvin Taylor-So (5-11, 188)
FS M.J. Estep-Jr (6-2, 208) Allan Barnes-Jr (6-1, 198)
P Shane Hussar-So Chris Pavasaris-Jr




Junior Matt Nuzie broke out last year, hitting on 20-of-28 FGAs and being named a semifinalist for the Groza. He had an awful freshman year, so Edsall hopes consistency is now established. Coverage will again hold foes to under 20 per return.

Sophomore Shane Hussar will start his second season as UConn's punter. Edsall's hoping it's better than his first. Hussar averaged just 36.9 yards per try, but put 16 (of 46) inside the 20 as well as having eight fair caught. He's capable of better, evidenced via Hussar's 44 yard average from his senior year in prep. Net results will be marginally better, and how much better will go a long way toward winning the field-position battles this offense desperately needs to win.

Return Game
These were jobs-by-committee, especially on kickoffs. But tiny, speedy Larry Taylor (5-6, 157) got the bulk of the assignments and finished second in the nation for KO returns and 17th in PRs - he ran back one of each for scores. Matt Lawrence and Tyvon Branch will likely fill in at times, but Branch's "fumblitous" and Taylor's prowess mean Branch has permanently lost his first chair.