Quarterback has long been a weak spot for UConn football but the Huskies were able to get some quality play out of Bryant Shirreffs the last few years. Now that he’s finally graduated, it’s time to once again find a new signal caller.
Pindell is entering his second season with the Huskies as the clear starter, at least to begin the year. Last year was very up-and-down for the junior college transfer, who won the starting job out of camp but got benched in favor of Bryant Shirreffs in the first game against Holy Cross after UConn fell behind 20-7 in the third quarter.
Shirreffs stayed under center until suffering an injury against USF which prompted him to retire, giving Pindell the job back. He played better in his second stint, throwing for 715 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing for 238 yards and a pair of scores over the final three games.
In the final game of the season against Cincinnati, he engineered a 12-play, 93-yard drive in just 1:22, throwing a touchdown to bring the Huskies within one as time expired. But after Hergy Mayala drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, Randy Edsall changed his playcall from a two-point conversion to an extra point. Kicker Michael Tarbutt missed the kick and UConn lost, 22-21.
Head coach Randy Edsall says Pindell has settled into the system much better entering his second season with the program.
“I see a much more confident player and he’s more comfortable in what we’re doing. He’s got the ability to do all the things that we want to do with our offense,” Edsall said. “We want to see him continue to progress with his reads, with his footwork, his fundamentals and technique but I’ve been very impressed.”
Pindell’s running ability is well-known but he must show a better arm this season and more willingness to push the ball down the field. In the opener against Holy Cross, Pindell only made short throws along the sidelines. He doesn’t need to be Dan Orlovsky, he just needs to make the throws when players are open.
Behind Pindell, the depth chart is a bit more muddled. Besides Pindell, no quarterbacks on the Huskies’ roster have any game experience.
Washington appears to be the second option in case Pindell were to go down. Initially a UCF commit, he flipped to UConn on National Signing Day in 2017. The redshirt freshman is a better passer than Pindell but he doesn’t have the same athletic ability. He’s also had academic issues in the past and missed this past spring game because of it.
The true freshman out of Georgia has shown a strong and accurate arm through camp but will probably need a year to adjust to the college game. He was a three-star recruit out of high school and his former coach said he was the third-best signal caller in the state — behind players that ended up at Clemson and Georgia.
A walk-on who earned a scholarship with the Huskies from Fairfield, Bisack is the veteran of the group. During the spring game in 2017, he led the first team offense — although that was more due to a lack of quarterbacks than anything.
Bisack is a known commodity for UConn. As a redshirt junior, his abilities pretty much are what they are at this point in his career. He could be a solid option if injuries hit because while he probably won’t win the game by himself, he also won’t lose it. But if the season goes south, it would make sense to play someone with higher upside than Bisack.
McAfee was a star coming out of Everett, Massachusetts but redshirted as a freshman. He’s competing for the backup job and fits a more athletic profile than the other backups. McAfee was only a two-star prospect but Massachusetts isn’t exactly the best of the best when it comes to high school football. Some believe he could be a steal if developed right for the Huskies.
Unlike last season, when the coaching staff made the (correct) decision to bench Pindell in the first game, they should be more patient with him this year. UConn opens up against the two of the best teams in the Group of 5 in UCF and Boise State. Both those games are probably going to be pretty ugly for the Huskies regardless of who’s at quarterback.
But if the season (inevitably) begins to go down the tubes when the weather gets colder, there’s no point in playing Pindell — a senior — when a player like Washington or McAfee could be getting valuable game reps to build towards next season.