One of the Huskies' few bright spots, linebacker Yawin Smallwood, said that the team, currently 0-7, is playing for pride. Interim coach TJ Weist isn't willing to concede as much just yet. Yes, the team is winless, and yes they'll face No. 20 Louisville this Friday but at the end of the day this is football. And as we saw against Michigan earlier this season, you really never do know what will happen until the game begins.
"If we make more plays than them, then we win," Weist told the media Monday. "That's got to be our focus. You've got to use the hype, you've got to use that intensity, and use it on the football field to make good decisions, to be physical and to make plays."
As for keeping his players interested even though they won't qualify for a bowl for the third consecutive season, Weist said "Our players have a lot of character and they have a lot of pride. We keep saying those things but we're hungry. These guys are hungry. We have a lot of players that have a lot of personal pride intensity. They're embarrassed to be 0-7 and they're embarrassed by some of the products we've put on the field. We don't think it represents us. We don't think it represents this department, this athletic department, this university. We're excited to go out there and prove that we can win and prove that we can be a team that really is not what we've put on the field in the last seven games."
True freshman Tim Boyle will again be under center even after a shaky outing against UCF in the Huskies' most recent loss. But junior Chandler Whitmer won't be his backup.
"Chandler had an injury to his hand and really couldn't practice [Sunday] or function that well, so we're going with Casey [Cochran]," Weist said. "It's not a serious injury but it's enough that he's having a hard time functioning as quarterback."
Cochran held his own as Boyle's replacement against UCF and there was speculation that he might replace the freshman in the lineup. But for now, Boyle remains atop the depth chart.
"Like I said in the beginning, we're going to be patient," Weist said. "We're going to do what's best for this football player. We're going to play the best player that we think can lead us to win. It's a constant competition every single day for us, at every position, especially for him. He's still showed us things this week that make us think that he can start this week, but if a situation arises where maybe he's not playing well, we have to do what's best for the team. So no, we're not locked in. I have to handle it as a head coach and say we're not locked in at almost any position. We've got to find a way to win football games. We're not going to be locked into anyone and we're not going to be locked into Tim if he's not producing the way we want. That's a tough decision because we made a decision to play a true freshman. We've also made decisions to play other true freshmen, so we're not treating him any different from that standpoint. It's just that from any offensive standpoint, he's got the keys to the car so he's got to make plays for us."