NO.2 WITH A BULLET -UConn starting quarterback Chandler Whitmer did not have a good opening game against Towson. In fact, after being sacked five times and completing just 16 passes, Huskies head coach Paul Pasqualoni said that Whitmer “was jittery” and contributed a lot of his troubles to not sliding around enough in the pocket to find passing lanes to throw the football.
To that end, Pasqualoni said that other three quarterbacks, Casey Cochran, Tim Boyle and Kivon Taylor, would get a lot more work in the time leading up to Saturday’s game against Maryland. And apparently during those reps, Boyle, the true freshman from Xavier High in Middletown, has opened some eyes.
To the point where Boyle was listed alongside Cochran as the No. 2 quarterback and – if Whitmer was injured or not performing well – would likely see action.
“We’re giving Timmy more No. 2 reps. Timmy gives us a taller guy, he gives us a stronger arm,” Pasqualoni said. “Casey’s doing well. Casey has really had a good preseason and is working really hard and his attitude’s great. We just felt that we’re going to give Timmy every opportunity to come along as quickly as he can. And we’re excited about Kivon Taylor as well. We haven’t lost sight of any of that, so we’re trying to the best job we can in developing that position, that you kind of do at every position. You’re trying to find a way to distribute the reps, trying to get guys accelerated in their development, so that’s what we’re doing.”
Meaning, if you read between the lines, that Pasqualoni and the coaching staff feels like Boyle, who stands 6-foot-4 and has a rocket of an arm, is the long-term future at quarterback. And just might be the present, especially if the season starts to go into the tank. But until that happens, it’s Whitmer’s job.
“My feeling is that I don’t want to play younger guys until their confident and they feel like they’re ready to go in and have success,” Pasqualoni said. “I’ve been on teams where we’ve put young guys in the game and it hasn’t worked out for them. It’s not a real good feeling. So I would prefer at any position, especially that position, to give them a reasonable amount of time to feel confident in what their doing and go from there.”
BOOS … OR CHEERS? – From 2003 through 2010, Randy Edsall led the UConn Huskies out of the home tunnel at Rentschler Field. On Saturday, he’ll be back, only this time he’ll be leading Maryland out of the visitor’s tunnel.
“It’ll be nice to come back and visit Rentschler Field,” Edsall said on a conference call this week. “I have a lot of fond memories of Rentschler and a lot of exciting games that were played in there and the fans were great. And I know what kind of tough environment it can be and so, I have to just make sure that we get our team prepared. But I’m looking forward to it because I have all good memories of the times that I spent in that stadium.”
As for what kind of reaction he’ll receive – remember it was Edsall that left UConn immediately after the Fiesta Bowl to take the Terrapins job, not even telling his players that he was leaving – it will likely be a mixed bag.
“I’ve been in this business long enough that there’ll be people that boo and probably people that’ll cheer and that’s the nature of the profession that we’re in,” Edsall said. “I’m just very thankful that the people that supported the program while I was there made me feel at home and just got behind us and the team and allowed us to do the things that we did. But anytime you go on the road, nobody likes you. That’s just part of playing the game.”
As for the seniors who were recruited by Edsall, it’s just another game.
“To me, he’s just another coach on another team,” defensive end Jesse Joseph said. “And what we’re supposed to do is beat the opposing players, so I look at it as Maryland is our next opponent and we have to beat our next opponent. I’m not thinking about Edsall, I’m not thinking about the coaches that went with him over there, I’m just thinking about our team and what we have to do to have a better season.”
“I think it’s just we’re playing the next team on our schedule, that’s Maryland,” added defensive end Shamar Stephen. “Obviously, Randy used to be our head coach but there’s nothing, there’s no animosity against him. We’re playing Maryland. We’re coming off a loss so we have to play hard and do a good job against this team.”
INJURY UPDATE – Junior wide receiver Kamal Abrams recently had surgery on his knee and will not play against Maryland. “We’re going to expect him back but it’s going to take a little while. It’s not like he’s going to be back in a week or two,” said Pasqualoni.
Likewise, sophomore safety Andrew Adams, who underwent shoulder surgery and could miss another six to seven weeks.
Good news is that tight end Sean McQuillan (concussion-like symptoms) is healthy. “I think Sean’s come back strong,” Pasqualoni said. “He’s really practiced hard, he’s had a good attitude about it. We’re looking for Sean to be back to the old Sean McQuillan.”
In addition, center Tyler Bullock will likely see a lot more playing time.
“I think he’s almost back to 100 percent,” Pasqualoni said. “I’d say, he’s 98, 99 … this will be a big week, if he could put together a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. We like to make those evaluations toward the end of the week to see how those guys do come back and see if they’re 100 percent. I’m optimistic that he’ll be ready to go regardless of whether he starts or doesn’t start.”