To call UConn's 2013 football season a roller-coaster ride does a severe injustice to roller coasters. After getting thumped by Towson State—a program that has produced a handful of NFL players including former Giants Dave Meggett and Sean Landetta, but which will never be confused with Alabama, Southern Cal or Ohio State—the Huskies season has unraveled week after week after week.
Another home loss in week two—this one to former Husky coach Randy Edsall and his Maryland Terps—was followed by a hard-fought loss to Michigan and an embarrassing 41-12 defeat to Buffalo.
That led to the mid-season firing of Paul Pasqualoni, who came to Connecticut as the winningest coach in Big East history but who was able to manage just a 10-18 record in Storrs. Pasqualoni was replaced by interim head coach T.J. Weist, who hasn't fared any better.
The Huskies have had a similar lack of leadership on the field as well. Weist's first move was to replace redshirt junior QB Chandler Whitmer by true freshman Tim Boyle, who led the Huskies to a tough three-point loss to USF. But close only counts in horseshoes, and after the South Florida game, Connecticut's record stood at 0-5.
That was followed by three straight embarrassing blowouts—including a 62-17 blowout by No. 15/17 Central Florida—dropping the Huskies to 0-8.
So after making five bowl appearances in the last 10 years—but none since 2010—Weist has turned the ball over to the third quarterback this season as the Huskies desperately seek their first win of the season. This time, it will be Casey Cochran lining up over center.
Cochran, a redshirt freshman, has appeared in four games thus far, and has completed 60.7 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and one pick. He has the top efficiency rating—by far—among all Connecticut quarterbacks with a 132.0 score.
Indeed, the former Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year is no stranger to success, having led both New London and Masuk to state championships while in high school. He will be leading the Huskies against what should be a beatable opponent, Southern Methodist. Although the game is in Dallas, SMU brings a 3-5 overall record into the contest, and is just 2-2 in the American Athletic Conference—which will never be mistaken for the SEC.
“Casey is very football smart,” said Weist in making the announcement that Cochran would get is first collegiate start. “You have to have smart... fast decision making. You have to decide what the initial pre-snap read is and make decisions in those three or four seconds. It’s not going to be any different for Casey than it was for [Boyle]. They’re still going to bring pressure. There was probably a little bit more pressure on Tim because he is a true freshman. Casey is a redshirt freshman so they’re going to put the pressure on him too.”
Kick off on Saturday will be at 3 p.m. ET, and will be carried on ESPN3, as well as the UConn Sports Radio Network.