By JIM FULLER
New Haven Register
STORRS â€” Watching senior defensive lineman Foley Fatukasi and freshman offensive guard Cam DeGeorge being forced out of last week's humbling loss to Memphis, there figured to be some changes in the University of Connecticutâ€™s starting lineup heading into Saturday's American Athletic Conference football game at Temple.
However, the biggest changes will take place in the secondary, with a hand injury sidelining starting safety Brice McAllister for at least a few weeks while a leg issue will keep freshman Tahj Herring-Wilson from making his third start in a row.
With the latest set of injuries, UConn will have had five different starting defensive back fields in six games when the Huskies play at Temple on Saturday (noon, ESPNews). Brayden Brown is expected to become the third true freshman to start in the secondary this season while classmate Omar Fortt should make his third straight start.
"He [UConn coach Randy Edsall] let me know when we got back [to practice] Sunday," Brown said. "We had meetings, they said get ready and I was going to be with the ones this week. I think every freshman in the country going to a big-time college, it's a big change. You get there and everybody's a little bit leery about how things are going to go, but to start, that's amazing, that's something that you don't expect but you work hard for so I'm thankful and I'm ready to go."
UConn is coming off a dreadful defensive showing, having allowed Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson to throw for 354 yards and six of his seven touchdowns in the second and third quarters. With senior Tre Bell, who started the first three games at cornerback, back as a starter and Brown getting the call for the first time, it will be interesting to see how the Huskies respond.
Edsall let the team know that the response he saw at Tuesday's practice wasn't what he was looking for.
"I just felt if it was me and I just came off getting beat, I'd be coming out there and somebody would be paying the price," Edsall said. "That's something we have to instill because I didn't see that today. I was disappointed in them because I didn't see that. How do you change that? Recruiting, getting the guys in here that have that kind of an attitude.
â€œWe have some freshmen like that but I wasn't happy with the way they responded. I would expect a little bit more."
It wasn't all bad news on the injury front. Starting receiver Hergy Mayala returned to the practice field Tuesday. Although Edsall considers him doubtful to play against the Owls, he could return to action soon after missing the last two games with a high ankle sprain.
Fatukasi and DeGeorge both appeared to avoid serious injury after being knocked out of the Memphis game and should be out there on Saturday. Fatukasi will be making his 30th career start, including 23rd in a row.
"I don't come out of the game unless I believe there's something wrong, but I'm fine," Fatukasi said.
Fatukasi might be fine, but the defense most definitely is not. UConn ranks 128th out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense. Against FBS opponents, the Huskies are the only team allowing more than 600 yards of offense per game. The passing defense numbers are even more distressing as the Huskies are last nationally, giving up 399.8 passing yards per game, which is easily the worst mark at the FBS level in the last 20 seasons.
"Nobody goes into a game wanting to give up 70 points," Fatukasi said. "That's not who we are. At the time we were disappointed but now we have another great opponent, We're going to play hard, Coach is going to continue to coach hard, we're going to play hard, Coach is not going to let up raising the bar.
â€œIt's tough, but all we can do is get better. We have to put that game in the past; it hurts, nobody wants to give up 70 points but at the same time you can't dwell on it for too long because you have another tough opponent."
Record for Newsome
When former Ansonia High star Arkeel Newsome took off on a 64-yard touchdown run on UConn's third offensive play, he was running his way right into the UConn history books.
It was Newsome's fifth career scoring play of at least 50 yards. Dating back to 1978, that is the most by any player in program history, breaking the mark he previously shared with Tory Taylor, Carl Bond, Robbie Frey and Nick Williams.
"I was kind of surprised to break that, honestly," Newsome said. "I saw a seam and I tried to keep rolling. That's why it was a little surprising to me but I went through all of my reads, I followed behind my blocks and it just opened right up."
Newsome also joined Donald Brown, Terry Caulley, Mark Didio, Lyle McCombs and Jordan Todman as the only Huskies with at least 3,000 career yards from scrimmage. His next reception will make him the first UConn player who was exclusively a running back for all four seasons with 100 career catches.
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