March 20, 2012
By Erika Wentzell
The University of Connecticut football team took the field of the Mark R. Shenkman Training Center on Tuesday afternoon for their first of 15 spring practices. The Huskies enjoy a good mix of returning veterans and newcomers this spring.
Head coach Paul Pasqualoni, heading into his second year at UConn, liked what he saw on Tuesday and realizes that spring practice is a time for smoothing out the rough edges on his team.
“I thought they tried hard, I thought they got sloppy at parts of the practice and I also thought we made some plays at other points in the practice,” said Pasqualoni. “Part of spring practice and part of getting ready to play a season is developing consistency.”
As for what he will be watching for in these spring practices he said, “just guys that can play consistently from play one to play 80 on the script. I’m looking for guys who can perform and compete at a winning level consistently for the entire practice.”
This football team is no stranger to competition in the quarterback position, as they had a three-man battle for the job early on last season, which was eventually won by now-senior Johnny McEntee.
The number of able bodies has grown to five, and they will all fight for the title of starting quarterback come this fall.
McEntee started all 12 games last season but redshirt sophomore Scott McCummings also saw his share of snaps.
Two newcomers who will join the battle for QB include redshirt sophomore Chandler Whitmer and the fresh-out-of high-school Casey Cochran.
Cochran, of Masuk High School in Monore, Conn., graduated from high school in December and enrolled at UConn for the spring after being named the Connecticut State Player of the Year twice. Whitmer originally enrolled at Illinois but is now at UConn after a year at Butler Community College in Kansas. Sophomore Michael Nebrich will look the increase his playing time this season.
A five way competition for one quarterback job certainly creates an interesting team dynamic and according Pasqualoni right now it’s anybody’s job for the taking.
“They are giving us all a fair chance, I think competition is good it will make me better, it will make everybody better,” says McEntee. “Casey and Chandler were really good out there today and for their first day, especially Casey, being a young guy he played pretty well. Better than I would have at his age.”
Cochran also holds the Connecticut high school career records for passing yards and completions. This was his first time practicing with the team and he said it was a great feeling getting out on the field and getting to work.
“It’s a great feeling, everyone is working as hard as they can and everyone is fighting every single rep,” says Cochran.
The Huskies practices every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday over five weeks will culminate in the Blue vs. White Spring Game at Rentschler Field on April 21 at 1:00 p.m. That is the time for the players to establish themselves in their