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UConn Player to Watch: Kevin Mensah

The junior running back provides a bulk of the Huskies returning offensive punch.

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 football season was a year to forget for the UConn Huskies. The team posted a 1-11 record and went winless in the AAC with its only win coming against the FCS Rhode Island Rams by a score of 56-49.

The Huskies finished near the bottom of all the important raw and advanced statistics. They finished dead last in opponents PPG and 112th out of 130th in offensive PPG.

The only major contributor to return on the offensive side of the ball is running back Kevin Mensah. Mensah is a junior from Worcester, Mass. and looks to be the focal point of the UConn offense for the 2019 season.

Mensah led the Huskies in rushing yards as a true freshman with 561 yards on 126 carries which was good for a 4.5 YPC. That mark led the team for players with at least 10 carries. He also hauled in 14 catches for 103 yards.

During his sophomore season, Mensah became only the second UConn running back to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards this decade. He carried the ball 225 times for 1,045 yards. He was second on the team in yards while leading the Huskies in attempts. His production in the passing game was diminished as he only caught 10 passes for 39 yards. Backup running back Zavier Scott saw a bulk of the targets out of the backfield for the Huskies last season. Mensah has found the end zone 10 times in his career and all of them have come on the ground.

At 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds, he has a low center of gravity and does most of damage between the tackles on the zone read. Last year, David Pindell led the team in rushing at the quarterback position and made for a formidable one-two-punch in the rushing attack that kept defensive fronts honest. We’ll get to see how Mensah responds without Pindell in the backfield this season.

With only one offensive threat to key in on, the Illinois defense can devote most of its attention to Mensah and stack the box against the run. We’ll see how well the gameplan translates to the field come Week 2.