RB Andre Dixon

2007 Statistics

Coach: Randy Edsall
50-55, 9 years
2007 Record: 9-4
at Duke WON 45-14
at Pittsburgh WON 34-14
at Virginia LOST 16-17
at Cincinnati LOST 3-27
at West Virginia LOST 21-66
Wake Forest LOST 10-24

2007 Final Rankings
AP-37, Coaches-33, BCS-25

2008 Outlook

Some cold weather things go together – bears and hibernation, tailgating and grilled meats, and Connecticut football and Jim Edsall. His nine-year tenure here includes all eight of the Huskies’ FBS years (formerly I-A), so anything and everything pigskin originates with Edsall. The growth of the fledging program has seen both high and low points. Last year brags the former, with the nine wins tying the 2003 Husky squad for most wins ever at this level. Funny how the ’03 team’s 9-3 record was capped by a big 51-17 win over Wake Forest, though, no AP ranking was ever seen the entire campaign; the 9-4 effort last year ended with the Huskies’ second postseason trip ever, but this time Wake won the ender (Meineke Car Care Bowl) 24-10 after UConn reached as high as No.13 in Week 10. Still, Edsall had only four total victories over winning programs for his entire career here until the two he got last year. The program has seen measurable progress with each incoming class, and 2008’s momentum from such a successful '07 effort is why so many see UConn again nipping at the feet of the top 25.

The amount of starters returning – nine on offense and eight on defense – means that Edsall & Staff would have to try to mess things up for there to be a losing season. Savvy Tyler Lorenzen is the kind of QB who will take them far – his running dimension allows for open targets to be found when play-action is utilized, and he can hit the hole as well as most collegiate running QBs. All-Big East RB Andre Dixon keeps too many big hits from being levied on Lorenzen, and Donald Brown as the 1A works well so all legs are fresh and ready. The receivers get shuffled in this pro-style approach, but there are enough of the same faces to go with the new talent to make it all work, and the line is golden with four-of-five starters also back. Offensive consistency fell through when it was needed most in ’07 (the four losses were the four lowest scoring games of the year), so improving that scoring quality will tell all as to whether UConn has turned the proverbial corner and can finally win against the better defensive foes. Still, last year’s 344 total points scored was the most since the 8-4 campaign of ’04, so any improvements to the offense will surely produce more wins.

The defense also had a banner season, giving up the second-lowest point total in recent (FBS) program history. Three of the four ’07 losses saw the Huskies’ foes score under 30 points, so there is more consistency on this side of the ball already. That’s how champions are built, and why UConn was in the Big East race until that fateful night in Morgantown. Even with all of last year's other successes, the landslide of production allowed to the Mountaineers forced Edsall and DC Todd Orlando to re-approach the makeup of their stopping unit. The aberration seen due to WVU’s superior running game (517 rushing yards was over 25% of the total rushing yards allowed for all of last year) led to 66 points (which in turn was over 25% of the total point allowed in ’07). Without that game, UConn finishes second in the national rankings for scoring allowed. That’s why little will change, but the intensity will increase to pick up right where this D left off (before the Cincy game). The passing D will stay strong (Edsall’s forte), so, like WVU proved, the run D needs more love. The shakeup at LB has infused some more speed, and the athletic DL (smallish, but adept DTs) will tell as much as the offensive adjustments as to whether improvements will be seen in the win column.

Rentschler Field has been good to Edsall's boys since it opened prior to the '03 season - 28-8 (78% wins) at home means that since all three teams from last year's regular season losses are in Storrs, odds are good for payback. Trips to Louisville and New Brunswick kick off a sequence where four of five Huskie foes will determine the fate of where UConn finishes in '08. WVU is ostensibly the ultimate measuring stick since the Mountaineers - a team UConn has never beaten - still remain the conference favorite. Not giving up 66 points again looks assured, but getting the home win won't be easy. Pitt and USF (to close out) aren't a walk in East Hartford on a nice fall night, either.

In the end analysis, this is a squad that will seem unpredictable from week to week against many bigger foes. Can they repeat similar success? Yes... but the range of results to also possibly float the Huskies around .500 is just as much of a contingency. This team has to band together and play Us-versus-The-World football, like we've seen for years from the Huskies, to pull off any national rankings. Usually, no one expects much from UConn, so they can then come out of nowhere to surprise. But that they now will fill the role of favorite more often, UConn will see if they have the metal to remain on their modest perch. A small school with an attitude playing in a BCS conference sure can shake things up, and Connecticut will do so again at different times in '08. A bowl year? Yes... But a double-digit win total will be the real challenge.

Projected 2008 record: 9-3
CB Darius Butler
QB - 3.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 4 LB - 3.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 4
OL - 3.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Tyler Lorenzen, 197-347-6, 2367 yds., 13 TD

Rushing: Andre Dixon, 167 att., 828 yds., 3 TD

Receiving: Terence Jeffers, 44 rec., 582 yds., 5 TD

Scoring: Tony Ciaravino, 22-27 FG, 34-38 PAT, 100 pts.

Punting: Desi Cullen, 75 punts, 40.7 avg.

Kicking: Tony Ciaravino, 22-27 FG, 34-38 PAT, 100 pts.

Tackles: Lawrence Wilson, 113 tot., 53 solo

Sacks: Julius Williams, 8.5 sacks

Interceptions: Robert Vaughn, 7 for 112 yds.

Kickoff returns: Darius Butler, 4 ret., 17. 5 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Jasper Howard, 6 ret., 8.7 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Larry Taylor-WR, Donald Thomas-OG, Terence Jeffers-WR
DEFENSE: Dan Davis-DT, Danny Lansanah-MLB, Tyvon Branch-CB

If UConn is to make a better finish than second place in the Big East, it is on offense that they will need to turn it up. Ok, so true fans point to their 87% success rate in the red zone and consistency in scoring evenly over all four quarters. But that meant only 51% TDs inside the 20 and a mere 35% overall third-down conversion rate. The offense was suspect in all three late season losses. Building on last year’s success (es), we see improvements in production with all of the Husky skill players back and four of the line’s five starters also returning.

Senior Tyler Lorenzen, prototypically sized for his dual-threat label, minimizes mistakes (mere six INTs) and relies on consistency rather than flash. Originally at Iowa State (native), he brought his JUCO All-American status into Storrs and was on the first-team by last summer. Take away his sack yards and he almost leads the team in rushing, too. His talents freeze safeties (looks off intended receiver) and subsequently make LBs commit to the box during play-action (ultimately matching up poorly in UConn’s spread looks). Coordinator Rob Ambrose, also the QB coach, only need improve his play calling to make Lorenzen truly shine. Backup Dennis Brown, not on the ’07 roster but the next in line at QB, has transferred, leaving the backup slot wide open this spring.

Both RBs can affect a game with their soft hands. More needs to be made of the Husky aerial assault if production is to take any next steps. The ground game is fine, but if UConn runs it nearly 200 more times than they throw it, like last year, better defenses will again control UConn’s via offensive predictability. The junior pair of Andre Dixon and Donald Brown is interchangeable, making it so little is telegraphed in the play calling when they substitute for each other. Brown, 25lbs heavier than Dixon, can take it to the house just as well as Dixon can run between the tackles. Dixon (Second Team All-Big East) seems to lose fewer yards, so he eventually got the start over Brown. But when you factor in Lorenzen’s quick feet and soph FB Anthony Sherman’s untapped ball-handling skills, the Husky’s 49th-ranked running game will continue to pull foes into the box and therefore make it easier to beat them over the top. Will they oblige?

This is similar to the situation at receiver – top snarler Terence Jeffers has transferred, affording coach Edsall a competitive spring in which to find his third-through-fifth WRs. Senior D.J. Hernandez becomes their biggest target underneath as he likely replaces Jeffers. Speedster Brad Kanuch, a deep threat in ’06 with a 22.2 ypc average, will stretch the field nicely and knows the plays well since he was the other starter in ‘07. Kashif Moore is an exception – Connecticut doesn’t get many three-star recruits, and his 37” vertical leap will be valuable for YAC. Watch for starting CB Darius Butler to get a good many opportunities to play offense as well while lining up at the WR spot. He caught one pass in the spring game that wound up being the game winner. Expect him to take four to eight snaps a game here. TE Steve Brouse is a heady H-Back type who can play many roles, with one of them to open up the deep middle since foes have to mark him (or else).

The line takes a hit with backup junior guard Lawrence Green missing the upcoming season after knee surgery in February. The OL also loses Thomas at guard, so Mike Hicks could again find himself moved in from tackle to compensate (rumor says he will go from the right to the left side, but only spring/summer will tell). If so, junior Dan Ryan can step in (started four games when Hicks was at LG) with effectiveness. Hicks is the man at 336lbs, and bookend William Beatty has the talent to be great if he can seal his side (Lorenzen’s blindside) better. There have been some top-notch OL recruits in the past few classes. The Husky run blocking is usually coordinated and sound, so if the pass protection can step it up (30 sacks allowed), Lorenzen won’t be forced to use his able feet so much (and take hits due to it).

UConn moves it in a balanced manner outside of the red zone, earning 110 first-downs on the ground and 112 by passing it. But then, once inside the 20, they have to keep from becoming more conservative and therefore more predictable. It cost them the Virginia game and nearly the USF one, too. If they keep developing like they did in 2007, this Huskie offense will modestly improve (the win total) from their last showing.


QB Tyler Lorenzen


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Tyler Lorenzen-Sr (6-5, 222) Cody Endres-Fr (6-4, 231)
Zach Frazer-So (6-4, 233)
FB Anthony Davis-So (5-11, 242) Anthony Sherman-So (5-11, 239)
TB Andre Dixon-Jr (6-1, 202) Donald Brown-Jr (5-10, 208)
WR Isiah Moore-Fr (6-2, 199) Kashif Moore-Fr (5-9, 177)
WR Brad Kanuch-Jr (6-0, 190) Ellis Gaulden-Sr (6-2, 192)
WR D.J. Hernandez-Sr (6-1, 211) Marcus Easley-Sr (6-3, 212)
TE Steve Brouse-Sr (6-4, 252) Yianni Apostalakos-Fr (6-4, 242)
Martin Bedard-Sr (6-3, 233)
OT William Beatty-Sr (6-6, 300) Mike Ryan-Fr (6-5, 314)
OG Alex LaMagdelaine-Jr (6-3, 307) Gary Bardzak-Fr (6-3, 282)
C Keith Gray-Sr (6-2, 276) Trey Tonsing-Sr (6-3, 301)
OG Mike Hicks-Jr (6-6, 329) Mathieu Olivier-So (6-5, 290)
OT Dan Ryan-Jr (6-8, 290) Zach Hurd-So (6-7, 305)
K Tony Ciaravino-Sr (6-2, 225) David Teggart-Fr (6-0, 210)



If you take away the 517-yard rushing total for West Virginia, you see a run defense that would have ranked 31st instead of 62nd. But the WVU game - though, one of only two games in which UConn gave up 200+ yards on the ground - truly measured the Huskie ground defense after it had built its success upon stopping teams like Maine (I-AA), Duke (1-11) and Akron. Even Temple’s 108th-ranked rushing attack gashed UConn for close to 200 yards (189), but the inconsistencies seen up front in ‘07 should be lessened as three of four starters return. Senior Rob Lunn is the biggest body in the middle, but at a modest 280+, you can see why girth will not be the reason [if] the DL improves. The big gamble seems to be in procuring Jarrell Miller (the only four-star recruit in the last four years) as the other DT (to replace Davis). A Parade All-American at ILB, Miller seems expendable with so many other back seven prospects available. Only time will tell if athleticism can effectively clog inside running lanes, and Alex Polito headlines the few other DT options. Outside, seniors Cody Brown and Julius Williams (three forced fumbles) bring their combined 28 TFLs and 16 sacks back into the mix. Brown uses his speed to threaten opposing QBs as a true rush end, but he holds his own in run defense, too. Cox and Witten are rotated in early and often, keeping all the big men fresh late. UPDATE: DT Jarrell Miller has left the program.

The loss at MLB has Edsall shuffling bodies – “Husky” LB Scott Lutrus will succeed Lansanah inside, and SS Dahna Deleston moves in to replace Lutrus on that strongside. This compliments the Miller move to DT - Deleston often was brought into the box during his safety tenure, and Lutrus has the speed to cover as well as the strength to impact opponent’s inside running. You can count on Deleston bumping into one-on-one matchups against any extra WRs. But Lutrus (at 220lbs) and Deleston (a shade under 200) round out a group that may be quick, yet also, like the DL, lacks the heft to clog lanes without eventually being pushed aside by worthy OLmen. UConn plays well as a unit, so we don’t want to make it seem like the size dimension dictates all results, especially seeing that this was last year’s No.14 scoring D. These moves will hopefully allow the Huskies to run better (both laterally and north-south) with the WVUs of the college football landscape. That has been the concerted aim during spring, and DC Todd Orlando likes what the sees (so far). Like Lutrus, WLB Lawrence Wilson excelled last year as a Freshman All-American, so this entire corps will gel even more as they remain on the upside of the learning curve. Things are being kept basic. “When you upgrade the talent level, you don’t want (to give them complicated schemes) to slow them down,” Orlando noted.

The secondary schemes works especially well since Edsall has a specialized focus there from his NFL days (Jacksonville Jaguars). Many seasons of solid pass defense (with mostly two-star prospects) prove this isn’t just due to player personnel. Ranked 10th for efficiency and 17th overall against the pass, there is enough talent and experience here to assure similar results this time, too. Like at LB, Darius Butler may be small enough to have fallen through the cracks of other major I-A programs, but he knows the ropes well and can lock his side down at times. Freshman Harris Agbor is being brought to the forefront immediately after his redshirt year – you just know Edsall is psyched to see what he recruited out of Mesquite (TX). Foes won’t be able to throw away from both. McClain was sharp as a nickel guy, earning more INTs than Butler. Robert Vaughn (not from U.N.C.L.E.) led the squad with seven INTs, and opposing coaches realize that his ability to spy and clean up as a free safety is why this secondary has no weak spot. Kijuan Dabney looks like he’s ready to step into the vacancy at SS. An ex-QB, Dabney has to hold of Jameson Davis and ex-sprinter classmate Jonathan Jean-Louis. Overall, UConn’s 23 INTs tied them for fourth in the nation. This defense seems to be cohesive enough to put its CBs/DBs on islands and concentrate a bit more on run stopping. This was the blueprint for how to have stopped WVU in their by-default league championship game last November, but UConn’s LBs were spread out just as the Mountaineer plays were designed to do, and the Huskies looked sad in the rout. Such an improvement could allow for an eighth man to sneak into the box, which would pay dividends when up against strong running teams.

Defense is what got Connecticut to their current level, and with eight returning starters backed by solid reserves, we expect things on this side of the ball to be ratcheted up a notch. Speed can replace size if a swarm mentality can remain successfully employed. Otherwise, UConn’s D continues to play well together versus lesser teams, but still struggles when the best come to town.


DE Julius Williams


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Julius Williams-Sr (6-2, 258) Oliver Bernsen-Fr (6-4, 239)
Mike Cox-So (6-3, 243)
DT Rob Lunn-Sr (6-4, 279) ..
DT Twyon Martin-Fr (6-2, 267) Alex Polito-So (6-6, 271)
DE Cody Brown-Sr (6-3, 246) Lindsey Witten-Jr (6-5, 244)
SLB Dahna Deleston-Sr (6-0, 211) Greg Robinson-So (6-2, 228)
MLB Scott Lutrus-So (6-3, 228) Aaron Bryant-Jr (6-3, 221)
WLB Lawrence Wilson-So (6-1, 217) Matt Ashmead-Jr (6-0, 236)
CB Darius Butler-Sr (5-11, 181) Derek Foster-Fr (5-9, 179)
CB Harris Agbor-Fr (5-11, 187) Robert McClain-Jr (5-9, 197)
Terry Baltimore-Jr (5-10, 171)
SS Kijuan Dabney-So (6-1, 204) Jameson Davis-Sr (5-10, 208)
FS Robert Vaughn-Jr (6-0, 192) Aaron Bagsby-Fr (6-1, 185)
P Desi Cullen-Jr (6-1, 196) Nick Amorante-So (6-1, 204)




Tony Ciaravino only missed twice from inside of 50 yards, so his return means an automatic three points once the ball is at the 30. Junior Desi Cullen has the foot for punts and kickoffs, but more importantly, he is a true 11th man for chasing down return men. The net results could be better for how good Cullen’s efforts are. Jasper Howard is the best return man prospect we see, but more will come as summer offers up additional possibilities.