STORRS — Casey Cochran, the redshirt sophomore quarterback from Monroe who led UConn to its only three wins last season, will take the first snaps with the first offense Saturday in the Blue-White Spring Game at Rentschler Field.
The game, which comes after 14 practices and signifies the end of spring practice, is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Rentschler Field. Admission and parking are free.
"When the next unit goes on the field, [senior] Chandler [Whitmer] will be with them," Don Patterson, the Huskies' associate head coach and quarterbacks coach, said Wednesday during a gathering that featured the assistant coaches under coach Bob Diaco.
"If you want to think of it terms of two offensive units, that's how they'll operate in the early stages of the game. At some point Chandler will switch over to the starting unit and [sophomore] Tim [Boyle] will work with the second unit and [sophomore] Mike Ecke will work with the second unit, too.
"If we had a game to play tomorrow, obviously, based on what I just said, that would indicate that Casey would take that snap."
So, it's safe to say Cochran maintained his advantage at the top of the depth chart following his performance in the Huskies' 45-10 season finale win over Memphis in which Cochran threw for a single-game school record 461 yards.
It's not etched in stone that Cochran (11 of 175, 1,293 yards, 11 touchdowns, four interceptions) will be the starter when the Huskies open the season at home against BYU Aug.29. However, the pace-setter has some things going for him.
"I think he's got a really, really high football IQ," Patterson said. "He's very motivated to learn whatever the plan might be. He can learn it. He's a coach's son and understands the game really well, but beyond that I like the fact he has really good intangibles and by that I mean he's got outstanding leadership ability. The players respect him for his toughness and they appreciate that he's got the right kind of mentality as it relates to teammates. He's a good teammate. We all know the quarterback gets too much blame when you lose and too much credit when you win so Casey is smart enough to know if I had a good day there are 10 other guys that had a lot to do with it. He's very selfless."
If Cochran showed anything last season, it's that you have to be ready at all times. Although he played in eight games, he was the third starter on the season behind Whitmer (71 of 129, 896 yards five TDs, 6 INTs) and Boyle (59 of 133, 621, O TDs, 8 INTs). Neither Whitmer nor Boyle led the Huskies to a win. And while it's true they faced the more challenging parts of the schedule, especially Boyle as a true freshman, wins are wins.
Saturday is a big day for the quarterbacks.
"I mentioned to them on Monday we're now in the fourth quarter of spring ball," Patterson said. "Don't be guilty of just kind of coasting in. The mentality needs to be this is do or die now. . The final exam is Saturday, but I'm impressed with their learning ability."
Offensive coordinator Mike Cummings is confident the Huskies have the players to make the offense work, but they key is going to be chemistry on the offensive line.
"Generally when people talk about [offensive lines] they're a veteran crew," said Cummings. "It helps them to be a little bit older, no question about it, but one of the real reasons is the chemistry of the players. They've played together. What you need to create, and what we're doing right now, is [we] need to create a chemistry within our offensive line. There may be some that are inexperienced, but if they have good chemistry, they will develop. If that have a good system, a supporting cast, they will develop."