April 21, 2012
By Erika Wentzell
With the backdrop of a gorgeous April afternoon at Rentschler Field, the University of Connecticut football team took the field for their annual Blue vs. White Spring Football Game.
The White team, led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Chandler Whitmer, prevailed over the Blue team 14-5.
Watching the divided Huskies team revealed that UConn’s defense is well ahead of its offense at present. Redshirt senior Ryan Wirth had an outstanding defensive game earning four-and-a-half sacks, one of those sacks forced a safety on sophomore quarterback Mike Nebrich.
UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni recognized Wirth’s efforts and how desperately the Huskies need to fill the shoes of lost starters.
“I thought Ryan Wirth on the defensive line kind of collapsed the pocket,” said Pasqauloni. “He played pretty solid against the run and pass. I think inside, we’ve got to replace Kendall Reyes who’s going on to the NFL and Twyon Martin, who were good players for us. I think one of the highlights of the day was how hard the inside guys competed.”
The Blue team’s quarterbacks were senior Johnny McEntee and freshman Casey Cochran, who switched off playing every quarter. The White shared Nebrich and Whitmer -- who was the star performer of the four quarterbacks. Whitmer threw the only two touchdown passes of the game and lead the White team to victory and Pasqualoni was impressed by Whitmer’s performance.
“I think that probably from a media standpoint, Chandler had a productive day,” said the second-year UConn coach. “ He really did. He made some good decisions. He threw fairly accurately to hit the open receiver. His team won, so I’m sure he’s feeling good right now.”
Whitmer went three for five on third downs conversions Saturday afternoon while the rest of his quarterback counterparts went 1 for 19 on third downs combined.
“There were some things I did well and some things I need to improve on,” said a modest Whiter. “I need to take care of the ball, that’s the main thing a quarterback has to do. We’ll go back and watch the film and see what we need to improve on.”
Despite the obviously-impressive performance by Whitmer, Pasqualoni insists this game was just the beginning of training and nobody will be named the starting quarterback until after preseason camp. Also heavily in the mix will be redshirt sophomore Scott McCummings, who saw considerable playing time last season.
“We’ll come back in four weeks to start their summer program. Then we get to start this process all over again,” said Pasqualoni. “We’ll start up, the quarterback competition will start all over again and once we get into preseason camp and it’s clear, then we’ll make a decision. We won’t make a decision right now.”
It seems that fans and players alike will just need to wait until August to find out who will prevail in the race for the starting quarterback position when UConn opens the season at Rentschler Field on August 30 against UMass.