By Phil Chardis
UConn Athletic Communications
Don’t get the idea that the UConn football coaching staff is waiting for newly-designated starting quarterback David Pindell to be the kind of QB who takes charge in the huddle by yelling at his teammates.
First of all, UConn doesn’t use a huddle.
Second of all, one gets the distinct impression that the next time Pindell yells will be the first time.
Pindell obviously doesn’t believe that talk is cheap. Every word is valuable to the soft-spoken quarterback. Would UConn coach Randy Edsall prefer that his offensive field general was more vocal? Sure, but Pindell won the starting quarterback job because of his arm, his legs and his brain – his mouth really didn’t have much to do with it.
“I just want David to be who he is,” Edsall said. “He’s not a real vocal guy. But I talk to him after practice and I said, ‘Just go out there and have fun. Just enjoy it.’ I think he wants to be perfect and you can’t play like that. You’ve got to play loose and you’ve got to have to have fun as you’re doing it.
“He knows what to do, he knows where to go with the ball and all those type of things. But don’t try to be perfect, just let it go.”
It may not be all that easy for Pindell to learn how to have fun on the field. Serious by nature, he’s has to be intensely focused to handle everything that been thrown at him in a short period of time.
Last season, the Columbia, Md., native was the starting quarterback at Lackawanna Junior College (Scranton, Pa.), leading the Falcons to an outstanding 10-1 season, hitting 63.6 percent of his passes as he threw for 2,424 yards and 31 touchdowns with just 7 interceptions. He also ran for a net 459 yards and 8 TDs.
Since his arrival at UConn, all he has had to do is move to a new home and a different lifestyle, meet and bond with a whole new set of teammates, adjust to a new coaching staff, learn a new offense and compete to be the starting quarterback, just to list a few of his new responsibilities.
“If he could have come in in the springtime, then you get a whole semester, and you get spring practice and everything else that goes with it,” Edsall said. “But to come here when he did, for summer school, we’re not allowed to do anything with him as coaches. We can’t even meet with him. There’s a lot for him to go through and he’s managed it well.
“But I want him to understand that he’s one of 11 guys out there. Just go and do your job out there, and do it to the best of your ability. He’s got to relax and enjoy it.”
To that end, Edsall and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee thought it would benefit Pindell and the team most if they named a starting quarterback with a full two weeks left before the season opener. Even in the short time span since the start of fall practice, Pindell had distanced himself from the competition at the position.
“It’s helped, not only at his position but a lot of positions,” Lashlee said. “I think we’ve started making strides because of the continuity. You’ve got to know what you’re doing at that position. We’re going to go as the quarterback goes. He’s got to have help for sure, but if he doesn’t play well, it’s going to be hard for us to be very good. You kind of have to project -- where are we going to be in three weeks, in five weeks, and after Game Four where are we going to be … you have to take all that into account when you make that decision.”
Lashlee acknowledged that they have quickly thrown a lot at Pindell.
“I keep having to telling myself that he’s been here (only) three weeks,” Lashlee said. “He’s trying to learn the system, he’s trying to learn the guys he’s playing with, he’s trying to compete for a job … and after that, he’s trying to get comfortable himself. He’s done a good job. He’s a quiet kid, who’s all about his business.
“By the third week of camp, you could tell that he’s getting more comfortable with what we’re doing, the tempo, how we do it. And we’re also learning what he likes, what he’s good at, and maybe the things we need to stay away from or work on a little more. But what we like is that he gets the ball out quick and that he can hurt you with his legs as well.”
Even Pindell was surprised by the early decision.
“There wasn’t a lot of conversation about it, we just came into meetings and it was up on the depth chart,” he said. ”I was pretty shocked by it, but I didn’t say too much, I just took it in. I thought it was going to go to the end of camp, really. But we knew no matter who was the starter, we were all going to keep working to make each other better.”
What is no surprise is that Pindell was low-key about winning the position.
“There are some guys who don’t talk a lot and some guys who like to talk a lot,” he said. “I’m not really an outspoken guy so I just try to do my job. I don’t change up – I don’t get loud during games I just try to stay the same and let things fall into place.”
An Official Visit
One of the officials on the practice field Sunday needed no directions to the campus at Storrs. Former UConn quarterback Luke Richmond (1998-2000), originally from Ansonia, is moving up the ranks as a college official. Now 39, Richmond is working in the Metro Athletic Conference and the Big 10.
“Maybe nine years ago, I was working with a guy who asked me if I would be interested in doing Pop Warner, and I said OK --- a way to make a couple of extra bucks on the weekend,” Richmond said. “And it turned into something I truly love to do. It keeps me involved in football and it’s like being on a team --- there’s eight of us out there on the field and we all gel, just like in football.”
Richmond has kept tabs on the UConn program and was pleased to see his former coach return to run the the Huskies.
“I was very happy,” he said. “I thought we needed stability. I wasn’t able to see many games, but the ones I did see were pretty tough to watch. Coach Edsall’s track record shows that he can improve and develop the program and make it into a respectable program, win games the right way, develop players and academically, graduate kids.”
Richmond, who explained that his fulltime job entails bidding on government contracts, is hoping to expand his officiating.
“In anything you do, you want to succeed and advance,” he said. “But I take it like how I played – one game at a time. You give max effort on every play and every game, and the chips fall where they fall.”