WOOZY WHITMER: Although UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni never said it, Chandler Whitmer did. He suffered a concussion last week in the win at Louisville and aggravated the injury in Saturday’s season-ending loss to Cincinnati at Rentschler Field.
Whitmer was hit by Bearcats linebacker Greg Blair as the Huskies tried a little razzle-dazzle play that backfired. Nick Williams took a handoff from Wildcat quarterback Scott McCummings, ran to his right and gave the ball to Whitmer, who was standing out in the flat. Whitmer was looking to throw back across the field to McCummings, but Cincinnati wasn’t biting. Blair hammered Whitmer as he threw the ball to the ground.
“It was a trick play and they covered both guys on the throwback and I just tried to get rid of it and that was that,” Whitmer said. “I think they called intentional grounding. It didn’t work in our favor.”
Whitmer was so dazed that members of the Cincinnati coaching staff helped hold him steady until the UConn medical people could get across the field to attend to him. He spent the rest of the game sitting on the trainer’s table. Johnny McEntee replaced him.
“The doctors always say you don’t want to mess around with your head so I just trusted what they were saying,” Whitmer said. “Last week was pretty bad. I think just being back so soon with getting hit again, that kind of thing, they just didn’t want to risk it.”
The Huskies limited Whitmer’s work over the course of the week and the quarterback said he passed all his tests before being cleared to play.
“There were a lot of extensive tests that I had to pass,” he said. “I took some days off and the headache and the bright lights subsided and all that, so I was good. They did everything that they needed to do. I was good to play. Obviously, I’m competitive and I wanted to get back out there. They were going to do what was best, I just happened to get hit again.”
Is he worried about any long-term effects?
“I’ll have to see what (the medical staff) say. They’ll stay on top of it,” Whitmer said. “We have a great medical staff and I’m not too worried about it.”
GUTTING IT OUT: Senior defensive end Trevardo Williams from Bridgeport was limited due to an high ankle sprain also suffered last week at Louisville. The injury was so bad that Pasqualoni said Williams probably shouldn’t have played.
“He couldn’t play. His ankle ¦ he had a pretty severe high ankle sprain and we tried to just use him on third down, but he couldn’t really put a lot of weight on it,” Pasqualoni said.
Williams didn’t have a tackle in his last game as a Husky.
“I was a little afraid (for him) in the run game because he’s got to play against big people,” Pasqualoni said. “We felt like we might have a better chance of getting him off the ball and let him try to rush and he was limited doing that.”
NOT SEEING RED: True freshman kicker Bobby Puyol was one game from being redshirted. But when Chad Christen pulled a leg muscle early in the week, Pasqualoni had no choice but to blow the redshirt and play the kid against the Bearcats.
“We tried everything. Taking a guy and using him in the last game isn’t a snap decision, I promise you,” Pasqualoni said. “We were trying to win the game. I thought the kid, for his first shot out of the barrel, a freshman, did pretty good.”
Puyol made his first field-goal attempt, a 40-yarder in the second quarter that got the Huskies on the scoreboard. He added two extra points.
“It just felt like somebody just blew it in (between the uprights). It was great,” Puyol said. “It was definitely something to remember.”
According to Pasqualoni, Christen pulled the muscle on Sunday, and the medical staff, despite its best efforts, couldn’t get him ready. So, on Thursday, the coach told Puyol that he would be handling the kickoffs.
“It’s a shame that Chad couldn’t kick because he was having a great season,” Puyol said.
Pasqualoni said they would try to redshirt Puyol next season because Christen, a redshirt junior, returns.