EAST HARTFORD, CT - NOVEMBER 09: Chandler Whitmer #10 of the University of Connecticut Huskies throws a pass against the University of Pittsburgh Panthers during the game on November 9, 2012 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
A year ago, Chandler Whitmer was a new face, and by the end of the season he was arguably the offense's most important player. The junior college transfer solidified the quarterback position, and gave the Huskies something they didn't have in 2011: stability.
Of course, when you go 5-7 (a year after going 5-7 with the aforementioned quarterback issues), there's a lot that needs to be remedied. And with Casey Cochran battling for playing time, it's certainly fair to ask if Whitmer can't get this offense over the hump in 2013. One way to do that: hold onto the football. Turnovers had a lot to do with UConn's record last season; they were 110th in the nation in turnover margin. So not surprisingly, holding onto the ball has been a point of emphasis in training camp.
“I am concerned no matter what," Pasqualoni said after a recent practice in which the defense had intercepted several passes (via SNY.com). "You turn the ball over, I am concerned. We will go in and watch the film and get it corrected. We got to do a better job taking care of the ball than we did in the red zone during practice.”
Quarterbacks coach Shane Day also echoed those sentiments.
“We want to limit the turnovers," he said. "That’s what we talk about in our room, and our No. 1 goal. The key thing with Chandler, people don’t understand this, but when you go into the offense your first year you have to learn stuff on the run. I can talk about not throwing interceptions, but you can’t give them all the looks that will come up. It’s been my experience that if they are doing right things with eyes and their fundamentals, that second year they make a big jump.”
Day expects Whitmer to make huge strides now that he has a full year in the system. And, frankly, he's going to have to; the Huskies lost four defensive starters to the NFL, and questions about the offensive line and running game remain. Whitmer as the one steadying force is a good place to start the rebuilding effort.