It's UConn Hate Week, which means we get to talk with another program with questionable leadership that got left behind in the conference realignment. We really should go with these guys to rehab or something.
Our friends at TheUConnBlog.com are some of our favorites, and Aman Kidwai was nice enough to answer some questions about UConn Football at this time of crazy transition. Not many teams have a new coach and starting quarterback during Week 5 of the season, and USF will be their guinea pig.
You can check out my responses to Aman inquiries here. We had some fun with our history against UConn, which is mostly them being the dog and us being the tree. How are we 5-5 all-time against a football team from New England? I mean how is this possible???
1. Have you put the Paul Pasqualoni vooodoo dolls away yet? Are his pictures off his dartboard? But more importantly... any idea yet how many years or decades he set back your program?
I'm tempted to answer your question with a picture:
THAT was the face of this program for 2+ years.
I don't hate the man, I'm sure he's a nice guy who knows a lot about football, it's just really too bad he tricked our shitty Athletic Director into hiring him because that was NOT the right decision and many of us knew it immediately. If anyone has a Voodoo doll in my closet or picture on my proverbial dartboard, its former AD Jeff Hathaway.
The Pasqualoni debacle obviously set us back years, how many years (or, gulp, decades) remains to be seen. I can't help but think what a stronger football program could have meant a year ago as re-alignment was happening... who knows maybe if some young go-getter is our coach and we're putting up 8-4 seasons instead of losing to Western Michigan and having the most boring games in the world then maybe we get that ACC spot over Louisville. That may be a little unfair to Paul, but in a world where football is king and re-alignment was happening, it was a very inopportune time for the program to take three huge steps back.
Ultimately it will come down to who our next head coach is. If our suckiness and bad conference mojo keep us from getting somebody excellent, then we're SOL indefinitely. I will say that the fan base is mostly behind new Athletic Director Warde Manuel and trusts him to make a good decision. He's a former Michigan football player who before UConn was AD at Buffalo where he hired Turner Gill.
2. You didn't just change coaches, you changed quarterbacks. What led to the move, how bad was Chandler Whitmer (and how much of your awful start is his fault), and what do we know about Tim Boyle?
It's not that Whitmer was bad, just that he wasn't very good and that he had reached his ceiling. To be fair, our O-line play has been poor, our offensive coordinator last year was a joke, the run game has been meh so there were a lot of factors going against him.
This years awful start is not fully his fault, but right, wrong or indifferent the QB is disproportionately blamed or praised based on how the team does. I think Whitmer's propensity towards untimely turnovers is what motivated the coaches to make the change.
Tim Boyle represents hope and is potentially the answer at quarterback we've been looking for since Dan Orlovsky left. Originally a BC commit, Boyle was a 3-star QB from Connecticut who had offers from Pitt, Oregon, Syracuse and others. At 6-foot-4 with a strong arm, he certainly looks the part of a 'franchise' QB. Most of our fanbase wanted to redshirt him in this lost season, but obviously there is something that separates him from the other QB's on the roster, a group that includes a 3-star CT prospect from the year before, Casey Cochran.
3. What's wrong with your team? Is it terrible coaching (which might now get better)? Lack of talent? Too many trips by players to Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods? How did a team that was just 3 years removed from a BCS bowl get rolled by Towson and Buffalo??
All of the above? Pasqualoni was not a good recruiter, seemed to place less of an emphasis on the O-Line, stole an offensive playbook from the 1912 Yale Bulldogs, and was frequently out-coached by less talented teams.
4. On offense and defense, what have been the bright spots for the Huskies? Are there pieces on both sides of the ball you can build on? And what standout/impact players should we be aware of?
(The next two questions were answered by our Football Editor: Andrew Callahan)
Offensively, the brief emergence of two capable wide receivers was very nice to see, and all skill position players will be back next season, so there are pieces to build upon. Geremy Davis and Shakim Phillips are the team's normal starters on the outside, but Phillips has not been seen on the field since sustaining a hamstring injury at the conclusion of the Maryland game. Davis continues to do his best to carry the passing attack with little help. On the other side of the ball, interior defense against the run and pass has been very good. Middle linebacker Yawin Smallwood could leave for the NFL after this season, and redshirt senior defensive tackle Shamar Stephen most definitely will get looks. Stephen is a powerful load at 6' 5" and almost 350 pounds. Smallwood is amongst the best hitters in the country, who also possesses enough athleticism to legitimately make plays from sideline to sideline. Those are the guys you should keep an eye on.
5. Prediction? Don't even list a winner... it's against USF, and there's no way a member of TheUConnBlog staff is ever picking USF to win a game against UConn ever. WAY too much history on your side.
Haha, I'll go 20-13 UConn.