As part of TheUConnBlog’s 2011 Football Preview Weekish, we’re counting down the days until the Huskies' season opener against Fordham on Sept. 1. Today, we take a look at the quarterbacks.
This time last year, Michael Box was hailed as a savior. A beacon of irrational hope.
Buoyed by a senior-laden defense and a top rushing attack, the UConn Huskies entered the 2009 season with more than just cumbersome pads on their burly shoulders. For the first time ever in the Randy Edsall era, UConn, the football team, faced expectations - of competing for a Big East title, of perhaps even earning some semblance of national legitimacy.
As long as their quarterbacks didn't f*ck it all up, of course.
Faced with the prospect of starting either a quarterback with more career interceptions than touchdowns or a quarterback with more career interceptions than touchdowns, the unknown of the freshman Box was a far more appealing option - especially after a few nice words from Edsall in training camp turned Box into the next Joe Namath to some.
Predictably, the quarterbacks f*cked it all up -- Zach Frazer struggled to not play like a total bonehead on the field and Cody Endres was ultimately expunged for being a total bonehead off the field -- opening the door open for Box to show off the second-coming skills he'd been said to have.
In his one and only start, the freshman did well to honor the noodle-armed gun-slinger that once donned his No. 4, finishing 4-for-12 for 35 yards and an interception in a 26-0 loss to Louisville, disappearing from the field after the third quarter, never to be heard from again.
Now, Box is nothing more than a mere quarterback.
The buzz that creates the "QB Of The Future" curse has already stamped the moniker on the forehead of another unproven, undeserving teen, while his predecessor presently struggles to stand out from the rest of the pack.
#2 Michael Nebrich (Fr., 6-1, 204); in 2010: high school senior
OR #4 Michael Box (RSo., 6-3, 209); in 2010: 6-17, 65 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT
OR #18 Johnny McEntee (RJr., 6-3, 224); in 2010: spent all his time making YouTube videos
OR #11 Scott McCummings (RFr., 6-2, 218); in 2010: redshirted
- #17 Blaise Driscoll (RFr., 6-1, 189); in 2010: redshirted
2010 high points:
- Zach Frazer throws two touchdowns in the Huskies' crucial win over Pittsburgh at the Rent.
- Zach Frazer's pick-6 is dropped by a South Florida linebacker a couple plays prior to Dave Teggart's game-winning field goal.
- Cody Endres (remember him?) shows that yes, a UConn quarterback can maybe complete 60 percent of his passes, as he goes 45-for-75 with 5 TD and 2 INT over three games, before being suspended and leaving the school.
2010 low points:
- The Fiesta Bowl was the third time all season that Zach Frazer threw two touchdowns in a single game. And as long as you ignore that both Fiesta Bowl Frazer touchdowns were scored by Oklahoma players, we'll be cool.
- The ever-competent Endres is suspended for the season after the Huskies' loss to Rutgers, forcing Mike Box to start on short notice against Louisville. It does not go well.
- Pretty much every play I didn't mention in the "high points" section.
Dan Orlovsky (2001-04)- passing attempts (1,567), completions (916), net yards (10,706), touchdown passes (84), yards per game (232.7)
Shane Stafford (1995-98)- passing efficiency (143.4), yards per attempt (8.75)
The one and only QB to go on and play in the NFL was, of course, Orlovsky...who's most famous for doing this.
Yeah, slim pickens at the QB position.
Where this unit ranks:
Phil Steele: 8th in the Big East
Athlon: 8th in the Big East
CFN: 8th in the Big East
Bottom line: If Box was ever worthy of the talent level conjured up for him a year ago, now's the time to prove it.
Really, even a glimpse at it would do.
With about a week to go until the season-opener against mighty Fordham, the Huskies are still QB1-less. And according to new head coach Paul Pasqualoni, it's likely to stay that way until gameday on Sept. 1.
"My drop dead date is Thursday Sept. 1," Pasqualoni said on Media Day on August 12. "Somewhere around 5 o'clock when we first go on the field."
The late-minute tactic worked out OK for Coach P. once before, in 1995, when he waited until the last moment to dub redshirt frosh Donovan McNabb as the starter against North Carolina.
But Pasqualoni hasn't had the luxury of enduring a UConn quarterback battle before.
You can barely cobble together a five-star prospect from the four-passer pack vying to play target practice for opposing d-linemen next season at QB, and the only one with actual on-field experience is the same one whose last play came on a sack for a loss of five yards ... in October. (Although, I've never much cared for the "he has no experience!" claim in college, considering that experience must be gained at some point, no?)
According to recent media reports, both Nebrich and McEntee have recently earned more snaps with the first team and appear to be the two front-runners.
But until the team reaches the Rent turf next week, those are merely hypothesis.
Box, despite a particularly fast and hard fall from football grace last season, still has a shot to ward off the other three challengers and Blaise Driscoll to start his sophomore season where he was expected to all along.
And even if he doesn't open Game 1 at QB1, there's still time for Box to finally make his mark.
With UConn's quarterbacks in primed position to set all-time futility marks at a position much-maligned for the past decade, there's sure to be a need for fresh bodies to take a whack at competency ever few games.