USF enters Saturday's game at Connecticut with the Big East Conference's top-rated rushing attack, but the Bulls, who are averaging 232.2 yards per game, know they will have their work cut out for them against the Huskies.
Connecticut's defense ranks sixth nationally against the run, holding opponents to 74.7 yards per game.
"UConn's defense is very stout, very impressive when it comes down to the run," Bulls senior OL Jeremiah Warren
said. "That's going to be a tough test, but we look forward to it and I can't wait to get on the field."
The Huskies are led by senior DT Kendall Reyes
, a first-team all-conference pick in 2010 and a preseason watch list candidate for the Outland Trophy, Nagurski Trophy and Lombardi Award. Reyes has certainly lived up to his billing so far this season, leading the Big East in tackles for loss (10) and leading UConn with four sacks.
"Kendall Reyes is special," USF coach Skip Holtz
said. "He's a difference maker."
Warren got a chance to spend some time with Reyes before the season began at the annual Big East Media Days in Newport, R.I., and said he's looking forward to seeing him again Saturday.
"Great guy," Warren said, "and I can't wait to block him."
Return to familiar ground
Three USF staff members are returning to some familiar ground this week. Holtz held his first Division I head coaching job at UConn from 1994 to 1998, while offensive coordinator Todd Fitch
(1994-95, 1996-98) and defensive ends/special teams coach Vernon Hargreaves
(1985-97) also spent time on the Huskies' staff.
In addition, Hargreaves played for the Huskies from 1980 to 1983 and earned All-America honors as a junior (honorable mention) and senior (third team).
"(I've had) a lot of homecomings this year," said Holtz, who earlier this year returned to coach at his alma mater, Notre Dame. "It'll be neat to go up there. I have not seen the stadium since they've built it."
Connecticut's 40,000-seat Rentschler Field opened in 2003. During last season's run to a Big East championship and BCS berth the Huskies certainly enjoyed a homefield advantage, going 6-0.
This season, though, UConn already has lost home games to Iowa State and Western Michigan, matching the most home losses in a season since the venue opened. The Bulls have never won at Rentschler Field, losing in all three previous trips.
Senior WR A.J. Love
on Tuesday re-aggravated the ankle injury that forced him to the sidelines during the loss to Pittsburgh and is questionable for Saturday's game. … Holtz will wait until after Thursday's practice to decide on who will handle the punt return duties against the Huskies with sophomore Terrence Mitchell
(concussion) out, but said Wednesday it's down to three players for the job: junior TE Evan Landi
, junior WR Victor Marc
and true freshman WR Andre Davis
USF AT CONNECTICUT
Saturday: 3:30 p.m.
TV: BHSN, Ch. 47