NEW BRITAIN – The game plan will be simple for the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils this Saturday in East Hartford when they line up opposite the UConn Huskies. According to Central’s senior linebacker Chizi Umunakwe, the main focus is to slow down sophomore Nate Carter and the UConn rushing attack.
Umunakwe is confident this year’s version of the Blue Devils has the chemistry and talent necessary to find themselves on the right side of the scoreboard in their lone FBS matchup.
The Miami Hurricanes welcomed the Devils into Hard Rock Stadium as Central’s scheduled FBS game in 2021. The Canes made quick work of Central, winning 69-0.
Umunakwe and the Blue Devils have an early shot at redemption in 2022 getting the Huskies in Week 1. He believes it will be best on best regarding UConn’s ground game that rushed for 245 yards a week ago at Utah State and the Blue Devil’s defensive front.
“Our number one focus is to stop the run,” Umunakwe said. “We know they have a freshman quarterback, so we want to put the game in his hands.”
Keeping quarterback Zion Turner uncomfortable is another point of emphasis for CCSU. A week ago he completed just 38.7% of his passes for 109 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
A first-year quarterback and an overhauled coaching staff made it tough for CCSU to study in the weeks leading up to UConn’s game last weekend. According to Umunakwe, however, they familiarized themselves with the Maine Black Bears’ offense. The Huskies new offensive coordinator, Nick Charlton, previously served as the head coach at Maine. The Blue Devils feel good about the looks they’ll face on Saturday after the homework they’ve done to this point.
The FBS season getting underway a week earlier than Central and the rest of the FCS gives the Blue Devils the edge in terms of film, but that also means UConn is a week ahead of Central in terms of knocking off the rust. Umunakwe has consistently spoken about the buy-in from his team over the summer to get into game shape, and he believes much of the roster is physically ahead of where they were a year ago at this time. However, no amount of conditioning compares to the first hit they’ll take on Saturday.
“Nothing replicates being in the game, and you never know how things might go, but I think we have a very mentally tough team and we’re prepared for whatever adversity comes our way,” Umunakwe said.
Kickoff will be at 12 p.m. on Saturday from Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford. Central will make its home debut next weekend playing host to Sacred Heart at Arute Field.