2022 MYRTLE BEACH BOWL
Radio: UConn Sports Network from Learfield – ESPN 97.9
CONWAY, S.C. – The UConn Huskies landed in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Thursday afternoon and after four days of events and practices are set to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd Monday afternoon in the Myrtle Beach Bowl at Brooks Stadium.
Monday’s Myrtle Beach Bowl will be a rematch of the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl where Marshall came away with 16-10 win in the only previous meeting between the Huskies and Thundering Herd. Monday afternoon’s game will air on ESPN and the ESPN App with kick-off scheduled for 2:30 pm.
First-year head coach Jim Mora has led the Huskies back to a bowl game for the first time since the 2015 season. After a 1-11 campaign in 2021, Mora’s Huskies are one of the best turnaround stories in college football this season after posting a 6-6 record to return to the postseason for the program’s seventh bowl appearance.
After a 1-4 start to the season with losses to bowl eligible Syracuse and nationally ranked Michigan and NC State on the road, the Huskies were able to refocus and stay the course, battling their way to a 5-2 record the rest of the way. UConn finished 5-1 at home this season including wins over Mountain West champion Fresno State and No. 19 nationally ranked Liberty, a win that clinched bowl eligibility.
The Huskies have done it with a strong running game and a tough defense that has been opportunistic and successful in creating turnovers.
The UConn rushing attack heads into the Monday’s match-up ranked 32nd in the NCAA averaging a shade under 200 yards per game at 194.9 ypg. The Huskies have gone over 200-plus yards rushing yards as a team in six games, three-straight to end the season and had a high mark for the season with a 295-yard effort on 46 carries in a win at FIU. In addition, four different Huskies have recorded 100-yard rushing games this season.
In summer camp, true freshman Victor Rosa (Bristol, CT) was fifth on the depth chart, but injuries put the UConn rookie in position to contribute and he has not disappointed. Rosa has seen his workload steadily increase over the season and has a team-high 124 carries for 561 yards and nine touchdowns. Rosa’s nine TD runs touchdowns rank 55th in the country for rushing touchdowns. He closed out the season with his best performance of the year, recording his first career 100-yard game with 111 yards on 12 carries at Army.
Paving the way for Rosa and the rest of the UConn running game has been a rock-solid offensive line that has started every game as a unit this season. Leading the way is junior guard Christian Haynes (Bowie, MD) who this week became the first Husky since 2010 to earn All-American honors after being named to the Associated Press and Sporting News 2022 All-American teams. Haynes, who has started 36-straight games over the last three seasons, led a unit that ranked 30th nationally in sacks allowed, giving up 17 on the season, just 1.42 per game.
Another Husky true freshman, UConn quarterback Zion Turner (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), got an opportunity to step into a bigger role this season and took full advantage as well. The back-up heading into the first game, Tuner was thrust into action after starter Ta’Quan Roberson (Orange, NJ) saw his season cut short on the second drive of the opening game at Utah State with a season-ending knee injury. Turner stepped in and started the remaining 11 games on the slate leading the Huskies to six victories. Turner finished the season throwing for 1,241 yards and nine touchdowns while completing 60.6 percent of his passes (140-231) on the year.
On the defense, junior linebacker Jackson Mitchell (Ridgefield, CT) was the anchor of the unit and the team’s top-tackler with career-best 133 stops this season. He is ranked fourth in tackles per game at 11.1 pg. He collected 16 tackles at Army, the third time this season he matched-his career-high of 16 tackles in a game. Mitchell had six games this season where he posted double digit stops. He has 8.0 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries on the season as well. Mitchell was named one of 15 semifinalists for the 2022 Butkus Award and was also named to the 2022 All-New England team by the New England Football Writers.
He helped lead a Husky defense that ranked 33rd in the nation in turnovers gained with 20 on the year and are 55th with a +2-turnover margin. Mitchell has five fumble recoveries, the most for any player in the country this season and recorded his first career touchdown after a scoop and score against Liberty. As a team, the Huskies have 12 interceptions this season, ranking 29th in the NCAA. Senior cornerback Tre Wortham joined Mitchell by earning a spot on the All-New England team this season. Wortham finished with four interceptions this season and ranks 17th in the NCAA in interceptions.
Senior linebacker Ian Swenson (Wilmette, IL) is wrapping up his Husky career in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. Swenson has been a cog on the UConn defense since the 2018 season and over his career he has posted 254 total tackles, 14 for a loss, four sacks and an interception. This season, he has 84 tackles, 3.0 for a loss, and a pick.
Swenson and the rest of the Huskies put the finishing touches on the 2022 season on Monday and a win over the Thundering Herd will secure the first winning season for the program since the 2010 season.
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