New UConn head coach Bob Diaco has said ever since Day 1 of fall practice that he would announce his starting quarterback about two weeks before the Huskies season opening game against BYU on August 29.
Well, with today being August 18 and a media gathering scheduled for around 6 tonight, we’ll see if Diaco makes good on his vow and names one of his three candidates – Casey Cochran, Chandler Whitmer and Tim Boyle – as the starter.
If he does, I’m expecting Whitmer to get the nod, based solely on reading between all the lines regarding Diaco’s comments on the QB competition since fall practice started … and even before, for that matter.
At the American Athletic Conference football media day on July 29 in Newport, R.I., Diaco gave an in-depth analysis on each one and after listening to that speech, I got the impression that Diaco was leaning slightly toward Whitmer.
Here’s what Diaco said about each one:
“Chandler is incredibly talented. He’s got an incredibly strong arm. He throws great on the move. He sees the game in pictures, like you’re supposed to. But he has to work on leading.”
“Casey is your quintessential leader. He’s the moxie, he’s the swagger, guts guy that’s going to will the group down the field. But he’s got to work on his foot speed and arm strength.”
“And Tim, he’s a young guy. He’s finding his way from leadership standpoint, from a communication standpoint and finding his way in terms of piecing together all the moving parts of an offense attacking a defense. But he possesses the total package in terms of tangible skills.”
Based on that alone, I get the feeling that Diaco feels Boyle is the future, not the present. He’s got the gun, he’s got the build but he needs more time to totally absorb the college playbook and everything that goes with it. If Diaco could redshirt Boyle this season, I think he would be thrilled. That would give Boyle three years as potentially the starter. Nice.
Along those same lines, it obvious that Diaco loves Cochran’s guts and leadership but I think he still has doubts about his physical abilities, especially when he told the media that during the off-season, Cochran’s weight had risen to 247 pounds and only after a strenuous re-conditioning program, had gotten down to “around 217 pounds.” When he says that Cochran still has to work on foot speed and arm strength, I can’t help but wonder if Diaco’s worried that Casey might be too slow in moving around the pocket and escaping the pass rush and if he does, can he throw deep and accurately while on the run?
Not that Whitmer is the total package, either, but based on his past experience playing at UConn, Diaco saying how he loves how Whitmer “sees the field in pictures, like you’re (a quarterback) supposed to” – meaning he’s sees how each play is developing – and that he can put the football on target either in a straight drop back or while on the move, that tells me that Diaco feels that Whitmer has the talent to run the Huskies offense. The only thing that could keep Whitmer from getting the nod for the No. 1 job would be Diaco’s comment that he has to “work on leading.” Talent aside, if you’re not looked at as a leader in the huddle than you’re not going to earn the respect of your teammates. Diaco has already said that Cochran has that in spades. That could give the former Masuk (Monroe) High star the edge.
In any event, it’s not like if Whitmer wins the starting role, Cochran isn’t going to play. Diaco has also said (many times) that two quarterback are going to play – and likely both play a lot – depending on the circumstances.
“We’re going to have a starting quarterback,” Diaco said at AAC media day. “But we’re going to have more than one quarterback playing the game because each one does something totally different well. Things we’re going to need done.”
So, who will it be? Cochran, Whitmer or Boyle. We could find out today.