SAME OLD HABITS – Heading into the start of the 2013 season, UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni was hoping that the identity and personality of his team would be one that took care of the football.
In Thursday’s 33-18 loss to FCS Towson, the Huskies were guilty of two crucial turnovers – a second quarter interception that led to a Tigers touchdown and a late fourth quarter fumble on a punt with 2:56 to play and the Huskies trailing by eight points. It also led to a Tigers touchdown.
Add to that a delay of game penalty — coming on the first play of a drive after the play had already been called on the sidelines – and a too many men on the field penalty on a third-and-goal from the Towson 1 yard line, that, instead of a tying touchdown, led to a field goal.
There was also a dropped snap by quarterback Chandler Whitmer on a fourth-and-1 play at the Towson 32, which led to no gain.
“We just didn’t make enough plays,” Pasqualoni said during Friday’s post-game conference call. “We dropped a punt. We had the ball on the one-yard line. There were opportunities there that we just didn’t cash in on. We gave the ball away a couple of times and we missed that fourth-and-1, so we left some points out there, we really did.”
OPENING GAME JITTERS? – Pasqualoni was asked about the struggles of Whitmer, who was sacked five times, managed just 16 completions and only 206 yards against Towson. The head coach’s replay: his QB had opening-game jitters.
“I thought that Chandler was a little bit jittery in our opener,” Pasqualoni said. “He did the same thing last year against UMass. It was kind of the same, the first-game jitters thing. So, we’re going to work … fortunately we’ve got two weeks until Maryland (Sept. 14), we’re going to work on it and I’m confident that Chandler will perform better the next outing.”
Pasqualoni added that Whitmer (who listed at 6-foot-1) had some trouble seeing over the Towson defensive line and has to be able to move in order to find some open passing lanes.
“When you’re not an extremely tall quarterback, you‘ve got to kind of slide around in the pocket to find a window to throw the ball in,” the head coach said. “He’s done that much, much better then he did it last night, for whatever reason. There were times he did it well and got the ball off and it was pretty impressive but there were a number of times where he just didn’t get into the window to throw the ball and consequently, was forced to scramble around. That’s something that he’s going to have to work very hard on.”
But in the meantime, look for Casey Cochran, Tim Boyle and Kivon Taylor to see some additional work in practice over these next two weeks.
“We’re going to work the three backup quarterbacks hard,” Pasqualoni said. “I think that Chandler … when Chandler got the ball out on time, he really threw the ball well. And when we didn’t get out on time he didn’t look very good.”
LINING UP – One of the bright sports for Pasqualoni after watching the film was the play of the offensive line. Despite losing starting right tackle Kevin Friend before the game (Friend is suffering from concussion-like symptoms) and putting in backup Xavier Hemmingway, the coach was pleased with what he saw.
“I thought, after going over the film, that the (pass) protections were really pretty good,” Pasqualoni said. “I thought we had a little bit of trouble with the young player, No. 75 (Hemmingway) on No. 56 (defensive end Ryan Delaire) for Towson, who’s a very good inside pass rusher. If I had to do it again, I’d have tried to help No. 75 a little bit more in the protection. But having said that, I think that one of the bright sports was our protection. A high percentage of the time the protection was really, very, very good.”
“Xavier did some really good things,” Pasqualoni said. “It was just when he kind of got singled up, he kind of struggled a little bit on that one guy. Make no mistake, there were some things that Xavier did well. He gave effort and tried to step up.”
INJURY UPDATE – Backup WR Kamal Abrams injured his knee in pre-game warm-ups and did not play Thursday night.
“He got hurt, hurt his knee,” Pasqualoni said. “He’s going for an MRI today. Just twisted his knee warming up.”
UP NEXT – Sept. 14 versus Maryland. Rentschler Field, East Hartford, 7:30 p.m.