UConn's spring football practice is behind us, the academic year is coming to a close and barring any unforeseen incidents (see, for example, basketball player Jamal Coombs-McDaniel's recent arrest), there won't be much to talk about until later this summer when the team officially reconvenes to begin preparations for the 2011 season.
New coach Paul Pasqualoni replaced Randy Edsall in January and in the months since, he has been frank about what the Huskies need to do to be successful: find a quarterback and some pass-catching weapons, and add depth to the running game. The defense already appears to be in mid-season form, and if anything, the unit might have to carry UConn next fall until the offense finds its footing.
Pasqualoni spoke in detail this week about his vision for the program.
"We're not going to be in position next year where we're going to want to drive the ball 75, 80 yards every time we get it," he said at the fourth annual Fairfield County Sports Commission Celebrity Breakfast at the Continental Manor in Norwalk.
That's because QB Zach Frazer is gone, as is Big East Player of the year RB Jordan Todman, who rushed for 1,695 yards and 14 TDs in 2010. Not surprisingly, Pasqualoni admitted that the "conversation starts at quarterback," a recurring theme throughout the spring.
"We've got a nice group to work with," he said, according to the Connecticut Post. "The issue is how quickly can we get to the point where we're making good decisions on a consistent basis and we can move the team."
And that's the thing: for just about every Division I program, the offense begins with the quarterback. Opponents are just too good at this level to beat consistently with a one-dimensional, run-oriented scheme. And, in general, if the QB struggles, the offense sputters. The defense will mitigate some of that but, ultimately, the Huskies have to score points to win. Pasqualoni even reminisced about defense; he spoke fondly of former defensive end Dwight Freeney (he had +17 in takeaways during the 2001 season), whom Pasqualoni coached at Syracuse. "We ended up winning 10 games that year. That's the direction we need to go. We need to be great on defense."
That should be the easy part. Less so: just about everything else on the other side of the ball, starting with the quarterbacks (a position Pasqualoni has admitted, won't be sorted out until the fall).