April 22, 2013
By Scott Waggoner
University of Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer found himself in a similar situation heading into UConn's Blue-White Spring Game, held on Saturday at Rentschler Field. For the second straight season the redshirt junior was learning a new offense, this time under first-year offensive coordinator T.J. Weist.
Whitmer and the rest of the Huskies gave Connecticut football fans a glimpse of what to expect from the UConn offense during a controlled scrimmage, which lasted a little over an hour. Whitmer finished the scrimmage portion of the day eight of 14 for 140 yards and one interception. He admitted after that there's plenty of room for improvement, though he didn't hide his excitement for Connecticut's new offense under Weist.
"I love it," Whitmer said. "I'm excited about what we're doing and we just need to learn the offense more and tighten things up."
While many of the offensive concepts and schemes will remain the same, there is one aspect that Weist has brought to UConn.
"Obviously with the new coordinator it's a different attitude," Whitmer said. "He likes energy. His tempo is fast and everyone is flying around and that's something we need to bring. We were somewhat lethargic last year and didn't have enough energy."
Whitmer split series with redshirt junior Scott McCummings and redshirt freshman Casey Cochran, who went seven of 18 for 101 yards. Cochran struggled at times, though he ended the game on a good note, connecting with freshman wide receiver Dhameer Bradley for 53 yards in what turned out to be the play of the game. Bradley was a mid-year enrollee for the Huskies.
Cochran will have to really dedicate himself to the playbook in order to become effective in Connecticut's offense, something Whitmer said can be difficult as a young player.
"It's not easy -- I was there at one point," Whitmer said. "I was a freshman and a little overwhelmed. You just have to start grinding and dive right into it. You're going to make mistakes but you just have to learn from them."
On defense, redshirt senior defensive tackle Tim Willman had a very productive game, recording two sacks and three tackles. Connecticut will be relying heavily on Willman and others on the defensive line to contribute this season after losing UConn's all-time sacks leader Trevardo Williams, who looks forward to the NFL Draft later this week.
"We have to step up and fill in roles so there is no drop off from last year," Willman said. "We lost some good players but we're looking to pick right back up from where we left off." Connecticut head football coach Paul Pasqualoni has liked what he's seen from his team in practice this spring and hopes the Huskies can build on that momentum. "It's not only been a good spring but it's been a good spring semester," Pasqualoni said. "It started back in January with offseason conditioning and I think they've gotten a lot done through the course of these 15 spring practices."
Connecticut will have plenty of opportunities to get better in the next couple months before they open the season against Towson at Rentschler Field. The game is set for Thursday, August 29th.