Should Boyle Keep Playing?

Sam Greenwood

Times have been tough for the true freshman QB, should we look elsewhere or is he a victim of other weaknesses on the team?

It's nice to know that UConn has decided to leave bad way, way, way behind and move right into full blown pathetic. Good for them. Why strive for mediocre when you can truly make an impression by being perhaps the worst college football program in the country.

You know how, when you're playing Hearts and you end up with a bunch of shitty cards, you're only move is to try and "shoot the moon." Well, UConn is well on its way to shooting the moon here, except there's no reward for it, other than the merciful end of the season.

How to explain the game against UCF? Well, if you didn't see it (and if you're smart, you didn't) just take a large blunt object and hit yourself very hard in the baby-making area. That pretty much sums up the game.

Breaking it down would require thinking about it. Thinking about it would require using valuable brain cells. I don't have many of those left, so we'll just say...UConn looked really, really, really sad. I mean literally sad, like a kid who had his puppy killed by Santa's sleigh on Christmas day. I'd say they couldn't have played worse if they tried, but I'm not entirely sure they weren't trying to achieve true zen through shitiness. Maybe this is a whole eastern religion thing I just don't understand.

Being Catholic, I get the whole self-inflicted pain so, if they were going for that, well done.

In all seriousness, this was a game where UConn clearly just gave up and, as much as I'd like to say no one should ever quit in a sporting event, I'm not entirely sure I blame them. They were so clearly overmatched in every facet of the game, and their season has so completely blown up like a dynamite-packed prop in a Michael Bay film, I highly doubt any of us would have been giving it the old "college try" at 45-10.

There was nothing positive to come out of that mess, except for the obvious emergence of UCF, which I believe helps the conference and, ipso facto, helps UConn. That's a slim, sliver of a ray of sunlight...if you're into the whole "glass half full" thing.

The biggest disappointment was Tim Boyle. Overall, I think Boyle's first two games were promising. The numbers were bad, but they were a product of the people around him and the circumstances. His first start against USF should have been much better, and probably a win, if everyone wasn't playing with new gloves lathered up with vasoline. The second game, he led UConn on some of the most impressive drives of the season, but wasn't able to finish them off with TDs. Once the Bearcats put some distance between themselves and the Huskies, it was chuck time, resulting in some of Boyle's interceptions.

Against UCF? Just...horrid.

Everything went wrong. The offense, collectively, played as poorly as is humanly possible, and the decision to continue throwing and throwing and throwing was mystifying. It was all kinds of bad.

Immediately after the game (in fact, during it), the question of whether Boyle would start against Louisville next week came up. Redshirt freshman Casey Cochran came in when the game was well past out of hand and went 7/11, for 95 yards and one TD. It was considerably more efficient than Boyle had been in three+ quarters of football.

So...is the Boyle experiment over? Hopefully not.

I can't defend Boyle or his game. That was the type of performance that deserves questions about your viability at the position. But inserting Boyle over Chandler Whitmer was never about 2013...or at least it shouldn't have been. Putting Boyle into the starting spot was about next year and beyond.

In a lot of ways, it was about getting games like UCF out of the way. Let him look bad in a season already lost. Let him take those lumps when it doesn't really matter. Use the 2013 season like an extended practice. Let him work out the kinks so that, hopefully, by next year, UConn has a more polished, mature player ready to help the team improve, even if only slightly.

He can't do that sitting on the bench. He can't do that when he's been demoted.

I said from the beginning that the only thing left to accomplish in this season is the progressive improvement of Boyle. If the team were to pull any positive out of a horrible year, it would be the establishment of Boyle as the future.

Watching Boyle fail so completely is disheartening, to say the least. I know we all would have loved to see him step in, play well, and look like a world beater. It would have been awesome to see him step out there against UCF and look legit.

Realistically, though, what were the chances of that? Slim to none.

In a lot of ways, what happened Saturday could be good. That's a complete ass whipping. It was going to happen. If he hadn't started this year, it would have happened sometime next. That's what happens when you haven't played in real, competitive games. Practice can't duplicate it.

Think about it this way...what gives Boyle the better chance at a football education: playing against a team like UCF on the road, or playing on the practice field against a UConn defense that just got torched two straight games? How much could he honestly learn going against perhaps the worst defense in the entire conference right now?

I know a lot of fans have their underwear in a bunch about Boyle losing a year of eligibility. At this point, I think it's kind of cute that we're worried about whether Boyle is there for the 2017 season or not. If by 2016 we are all lamenting the fact that Tim Boyle has to graduate and leave the program, that's awesome because it means the program is winning, he's playing great, and the Huskies are heading in the right direction. If he's standing on the sideline with a clipboard in his hand, or being pushed aside by a younger, better QB recruit, none of us are going to care that the Boyle era is coming to an end a year short.

I know others are convinced starting Boyle behind a bad O-line with questionable wide receivers and an interim head coach at the helm could stunt his growth. I understand that argument, I just disagree with it philosophically. Good players end up being good, barring injury. Mentally tough guys can get through adversity, whether it comes their freshman year or senior season. Mentally weak guys will crumble, no matter the circumstances.

As stated above, I don't see how Boyle gets any better standing on the sidelines watching someone else play bad football, or how he gets game-ready by playing against his own abysmal defense.

Also, let's be honest. It's not like you're going to throw him out there next year behind a magically great offensive line. I hope and pray they are not this bad, but he's probably still going to have to know how to get rid of the ball quickly and throw on the move. Might as well learn that now.

Look, I'm not related to Tim Boyle...if he turns out to be the wrong choice, the wrong fit, then sit him down. And if you tell me that everyone believes that Cochran represents the future more than Boyle, then by all means put him in there. My only question would be, why was Boyle in there to begin with?

Yet, to me it still appears Boyle has more upside. He obviously outplayed Cochran in practice, has a stronger arm, bigger frame, and the chance to do more from the QB position. Why sit him now? What can he learn?

I freely admit that interim head coach TJ Weist is in a very difficult spot. He's almost assuredly not getting the job after the year. It was an uphill climb from the start, and these three games, although not his fault, don't help the cause. However, if you're Weist, you still believe you have a fighting chance...but you have to win games.

Developing Boyle, I'm sure, is secondary to trying to secure your future job.

Granted, I don't know the usual relationship between athletic director and coach, but this might be a spot where Warde Manuel needs to make this call. If he believes Boyle can be a part of the future, he shouldn't let a guy who isn't going to be here next year make a change for a chance at minimal short-term gains. I know, I know...it neuters Weist. It's "front office" interfering with what's happening on the field. That's always taboo.

But, in this case, it might be necessary. Honestly, the future is what's important. This year was lost a long time ago.

Whether you agree with the move to insert Boyle or not, the program made a commitment to the young man and should give him a chance to sink or swim. If he's the future, let him develop. Take the lumps. Take the bad games. Expect another one from Boyle against Louisville. Learn, get better, and move on.

This season is only valuable if Boyle is better in 2014 than he is now in 2013. You're not going to find that out by having him carrying Casey Cochran's jock strap.

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