There wasn't much to complain about in the aftermath of the Huskies' 37-0 season-opening win over UMass Thursday. Sure, Chandler Whitmer threw a bad interception, and he did have a tendency to stare down his receivers, but compared to 2012, the offense looked like a fine-tuned machine. One thing that hasn't changed: the wildcat which features Scott McCummings at quarterback while Whitmer stands on the sidelines.
The scheme worked well last year and it had its moments against the Minutemen, but one concern is that using it too much could affect Whitmer's development. All told, Whitmer took 40 snaps and McCummings took 19 which works out to a two-thirds - one-third breakdown. And as the Connecticut Post's Kevin Duffy wrote over the weekend Whitmer "played four consecutive snaps on just three occasions," which doesn't do a lot for rhythm and consistency.
"That's always a concern, always a consideration," coach Paul Pasqualoni said via Duffy. "But we practice guys in and out, so we've got to do a good job in practice of creating the environment of there being continuity, being able to substitute people -- and we substitute a lot of people. I thought last year we handled it pretty good. I think as we go, we'll handle it better."
Pasqualoni obviously has strategic reasons for using the wildcat as much as he does and it extends beyond strictly personnel issues. "You can consider it to be a little bit of an equalizer because you have one extra blocker because the quarterback is running with the ball," Pasqualoni explained. "We used that a little bit more tonight, and there's a reason we did."
Duffy suggests that it might also have something to do with the Huskies' upcoming opponents. Now NC State, which comes to Rentschler Field Saturday, has to game plan for McCummings and the wildcat.
"We've been doing it all camp and it's something we do in this offense," said Whitmer, who threw for 219 yards with two interceptions. "It keeps the defense off-guard and I think we do a good job of it."
Maybe. Then again, if the wildcat was so effective, more teams would use it more often. In 2008, the NFL's Miami Dolphins rode the wildcat all the way to the division title and the playoffs but that was four years ago. Opponents have since caught on the wildcat has gone the way of other unconventional offensive sets. Now that UConn appears to have a legitimate passer, perhaps it makes more sense to build the offense through him and running back Lyle McCombs. That's not to say there isn't a place for McCummings, just that maybe the offense shouldn't devote a third of the snaps to the wildcat.
But it's early and there will be plenty of time to sort this out, starting Saturday with the Wolfpack.