TheGameChart: Let's talk about Chandler Whitmer

August 30, 2012; East Hartford, CT, USA; Connecticut Huskies quarterback Chandler Whitmer (10) passes against the Massachusetts Minutemen while being protected by center Alex Mateas (73) during the first quarter at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-US Presswire

Now that I've moved into the 21st century and joined the magical world of Digital Video Recorders, I can devote myself to my one true love in life: analyzing a perfectly cromulent football team such that I become blinded to how good they actually are. (Look at me, I sound like a Rutgers fan!)

That's the idea behind TheGameChart. Throughout the season I'll be rewatching UConn's games to determine what's working and what's not. (I attempted to do this last year, but without a DVR, I needed to rely on ESPN3. Because I have Cablevision and James Dolan hates me personally, I don't have access to ESPN3. There was a runaround trick people like me could use - which allowed me to chart last year's Fordham game - but ESPN soon cut it off.)

I should put out here right now: I'm not a football coach, nor am I some kind of great football mind. I'm just a guy who enjoys the game and reads a little bit about tactics. Constructive criticism is welcomed, and if you have any ideas for things to look at, I'd be happy to go back and do it.

For Week 1's win over UMass, I thought it would be best to take a look at UConn's new quarterback, Chandler Whitmer.

The sophomore from Butler (Kan.) Community College had a mostly positive outing, completing 15 of 25 yards for 219 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. I say "mostly positive" because he looked poised and aware in the pocket, showed some good footwork, made strong, accurate throws most of the time, and generally looked like he could eventually be a quarterback in a legitimately solid BCS-conference offense. These are new things for UConn fans.

By comparison, Whitmer's 219 yards would have been the fourth-best total for the much-maligned Johnny McEntee in 2011; Whitmer's 60% completion percentage would have been the third-best day for McEntee in 2011 (he was 8-for-12 against Fordham and 10-for-16 against Rutgers).

Yes, it was UMass. And yes, Whitmer wasn't asked to do a terrible amount. We will know 800% more about what kind of player Chandler Whitmer is this Saturday against North Carolina State.

That being said, let's take a look at what Whitmer did well Thursday:


First, a look at his throwing chart:
Left Middle Right
Deep

1-4

34 yds

0-0

0 yds

0-0

0 yds

Middle

0-0

0 yds

2-3

41 yds, INT

3-7

47 yds, INT

Short

2-3

23 yds

1-1

6 yds

6-7

57 yds



As I mentioned, I charted last year's Fordham game, and the comparison is fairly interesting:

Chandler Whitmer UConn QBs vs. Fordham
Deep 1-4, 34 yds 2-4, 77 yds, TD
Middle 5-10, 88 yds, 2 INT 6-9, 120 yds
Short 9-11, 86 yds 4-8, 31 yds

As you recall, in the 2011 opener, UConn rotated three quarterbacks (McEntee, Michael Nebrich, Scott McCummings) mostly evenly.

McCummings is responsible for most of last year's deep yardage, as he had a 56-yard touchdown out of the Wildcat. You could see Whitmer trying to push the ball deep late in the second quarter - maybe a bit out of frustration - but otherwise he seemed content to take what the defense gave him.

Based on my charting, the big difference in success for medium-range passes, it seems, is that McEntee and Nebrich were able to find receivers in space and in stride, leading to more yards after the catch. Meanwhile, Whitmer was trying, and was partially successful, to fit the ball into tighter windows down the field. I don't know if this is because UConn's receivers had trouble getting separation, or if Whitmer is just more confident in his ability to hit receivers in traffic. (His second interception, a poor decision to throw into quadruple coverage, suggests the latter.)

Speaking of the receivers, while I'll wait to see Geremy Davis and Shakim Phillips get open against BCS-level defensive backs these next two weeks before I jump on the bandwagon, it was hard not to be impressed with Davis' possession receiver skills. I really hope he becomes a thing. But I digress.

The biggest key, for me, is that bottom column. Whitmer's mechanics and throwing motion are the best for any UConn quarterback since I've been following the team (i.e. the post-Orlovsky era), and I have a hunch that has something to do with the accuracy numbers in the short passing game. For the most part, Whitmer let his receivers make plays with accurate leading throws, which is something we couldn't really say last year.

Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. While it's my opinion, based on his history and the data from Week 1, that Chandler Whitmer has significantly more upside than any of the three quarterbacks who played last year, it's imperative that he limit his turnovers, which he did not do Thursday. He also will need to be more accurate down the field, although he has plenty of time to work on that. The Huskies won't be an offensive juggernaut overnight, and every possession will be crucial.

But I think Paul Pasqualoni has found his man under center. Hopefully he gives Whitmer every opportunity in the non-conference season to show what he can do.

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