Dan Orlovsky, how we miss thee.
Entering the 2013 season, UConn has still not seen a capable quarterback since the days that showcased the gorgeous passing release of Dan O, and opening releases of Dodgeball, Mean Girls and Anchorman. Now, given his turnover-ravaged performance from a year ago, Chandler Whitmer is not likely to break this trend. But, with an added year of D-1 playing experience and a better playbook from which to work, you can expect definitive improvement out of this group from 2012.
Here's how they look:
Chandler Whitmer- The unquestioned starter, Whitmer will take command of an offense that must improve this year in order for the Huskies to succeed. He’s one of two people, along with new offensive coordinator TJ Weist, expected to spearhead that movement. Whitmer’s first year as starter was a mixed bag as he threw for 2,600 yards, nine touchdowns and 16 picks. However, he also racked up a 119 quarterback rating while collecting some very solid performances. On the surface, those stats don’t look all that great, but when we consider the complete ineptitude of his predecessors, and the fact that he was a sophomore, we have reason to be optimistic. With four out of five starters returning on the offensive line, he should have more time in the pocket to throw to receivers who also aren't playing within a Pop Warner playbook anymore and should be open more often. I expect a serviceable season out of Whitmer this year, setting him up nicely for an even better performance in 2014.
Casey Cochran- The heralded three-star, in-state recruit graduated high school early in order to enroll at UConn in January of 2012 and participate in spring practices. Unfortunately, he quickly sustained a non-football injury and was redshirted last year. By all accounts, he’s looked solid in camp so far, and now that McCummings is out for the season, he has a strong hold on the backup job. There are people who thought Cochran had a chance to beat out Whitmer for the starting job his freshman year, though that may be the hype machine at work. And yet, don’t sleep on this guy. Say Whitmer goes down and Cochran has a few strong outings, it’s not crazy to think the youngster could take the starting job for good.
Tim Boyle- Boyle has a very similar profile to Cochran- three-star recruit, highly decorated, Connecticut state champion. I already like the Tim Boyle era because he de-committed from BC and shunned interest from Oregon, Florida and Pitt to play for the Huskies, proving that we still have some appeal here in Storrs. At 6’4", 210 lbs. he certainly looks the part of a big time starting quarterback, and as I’ve said before, I believe he has the potential to be the future leader of the program. In fact, if I were running a dynasty in EA Sports' NCAA Football '14, I’d probably redshirt Boyle so that he could at least be the starter his redshirt senior season if he can’t beat out Cochran. But, since Pasqualoni isn't even sure as to how he'll handle that situation going forward, who knows what happens. We'll find out whether he gets tabbed with a redshirt early in the season, but as for now, I have no clue.
Kivon Taylor- The dual-threat freshman from Atlanta, Taylor has been getting third and fourth-team reps in summer practices. A longshot to do anything significant this year, he remains an intriguing talent who saw his short and long-term chances boosted with the departure of Richard Lagow. Later on, I could also see him moving to wide receiver, given his athleticism, height (6-foot-4) and the current logjam at the quarterback position.
Scott McCummings- Scotty showed up to camp overweight and early on suffered a season-ending injury a couple days in.
Michael Ecke- Transfer from Central Connecticut State, Ecke played his high school ball at Cheshire. He actually played against Tim Boyle’s Xavier team in 2011, losing 42-20.
Chris DeBerry- DeBerry transferred from Bowling Green and walked on to the team this past spring. He is also from Connecticut, having played for Torrington High.
Bottom line: things are pretty straightforward here. With a new offensive scheme, it will be very interesting to see how much the attack open up and how much of an affect it has on Whitmer's performance. Additionally, the future looks relatively promising with Cochran and Boyle waiting in the wings. So, who knows— perhaps with the long-awaited release of Anchorman II this Christmas, we'll finally receive another overdue gift— a proficient UConn quarterback, who may lead us to a bowl game.