STORRS - All of the players on the UConn football team have some incentive help the Huskies upset Boston College, chief among those the fact that the current Huskies have suffered through three straight blowouts and the fact that UConn as a program has never defeated the Eagles.
But Tyler Coyle, UConn’s redshirt freshman defensive back from Windsor, has even more reason to wish the Eagles the worst of luck.
“Definitely it’s a statement game for me,” Coyle said this week as the Huskies prepared for Saturday’s game at Fenway Park. “Coming out of high school they were recruiting me heavy and they never really pulled the trigger (with a scholarship offer). I came to UConn and I definitely want to prove something to them.”
In addition to a twinge of bad blood for the Eagles, Coyle has another reason to try even harder to shine this weekend.
“I’m a Yankee fan playing in the Red Sox stadium. I feel like I have a lot to prove,” Coyle said with a smile.
It’s a sentiment likely shared by many of his teammates.
The 6-foot-1, 202-pound Coyle is one of five freshmen expected to start Saturday against BC, and is one of dozen who have already started at least one game this season - including fellow defensive backs Jordan Swann, Omar Fortt, Ian Swenson, and Brayden Brown.
The team’s youth movement hasn’t always produced the results UConn had desired this season, but the future seems relatively bright given the experience many of its young players are getting.
Coyle is seeing even more reps than many of his classmates.
On top of his work on defense, the Huskies have made Coyle a key figure on special teams, and he produced as the team’s gunner on punts during last week’s game against Central Florida.
“He did a great job on punt coverage. That returner, we were concerned about him,” Edsall said. “Tyler beat the guy off the line and made two great open-field tackles.”
Those are plays the former mutli-sport star with the Warriors might not have been able to make earlier this season at UConn.
“I feel like I’ve stepped it up a lot. I’ve put a lot more effort into it,” Coyle said of special teams. “I’m getting down the field a lot faster and I’m making plays.”
He’s also doing plenty of that in the Huskies’ defensive backfield.
Coyle is currently fifth on the team in tackles with 45 has two of the Huskies’ five interceptions this season. But more than his numbers, UConn head coach Randy Edsall says it’s Coyle’s confidence that his improved the most since the season began.
“Seems to me that he’s playing a little bit more confidently than he was earlier in the year,” Edsall said.
Coyle agrees with that assessment.
“I’m recognizing a lot more formations. My confidence is way up. I’m reacting a lot faster to things. I feel like I’m flowing out there,” Coyle said.
Not all is working optimally on the UConn defense at this point, and that is highlighted by the number of big plays it has allowed. Last week against UCF, 10 of the plays the host Knights ran accounted for 320 yards. The other 63 plays covered just 199.
It’s a tall task, but the coaching staff simply wants to wipe out those 10.
“If we can eliminate those 10 plays - and all those 10 plays there was somebody who made a mistake that allowed that to happen; one or two guys - it would be big,” Edsall said.
UConn’s defense may have been exceedingly porous this season but there are a handful of bright spots. Coyle is seemingly one of them.
“If he wants to work and really wants to be a good player, he has the ability to do that,” Edsall said. “You’re seeing some good things out of him now.”