It's easy to look at final passing statistics in the Boise State game and find a eureka moment where there is none.
At first glance reserve quarterback's Tim Boyle 6 of 9 numbers with no interceptions far outdistance the 16 of 29 and two interception numbers that Chandler Whitmer had.
However, most of Boyle's best work came on the Huskies' final offensive possession when Boise State was willing to concede yards as long as the clock continued to run.
Still, for a player making his first appearance of the season, being able to move the team on that drive could prove to be invaluable for Boyle.
Boyle hooked up with Thomas Lucas and Sean McQuillan for completions of four and five yards. Boyle and Lucas connected again for a 17-yard gain. Ironically, two of his most impressive throws resulted in incompletions. Despite having a tight window to throw into, Boyle dropped a pass into the hands of Noel Thomas within the shadow of the goal line. Thomas was unable to hold onto the ball and one the next play Dhameer Bradley dropped a potential touchdown reception as UConn's final
possession in the 38-21 loss came to an end.
"It gave me a lot of confidence," Boyle said. "I know it wasn't their starting defense but any time you play a Boise State team their backups aren't going to be a bad backup group so it definitely gave me confidence in my leadership ability because I definitely was in control of that series. It was slower this year than it was last year for me, it came to be a lot easier. Seeing defenses, getting the play call in, the substitutions and all that kind of stuff. It was definitely s confidence booster for the next couple of games and I want to keep building on it."
Boyle made his first appearance of the season in the Huskies' third offensive possession. He connected with Lucas on completions on his first two passes although the plays resulted in just four yards. On third down he was sacked and that was the end of Boyle's day until it was garbage time.
A confident Boyle could be huge for the Huskies moving forward because the former Xavier High star has all the tools to be a top-flight Division I quarterback.
Calling his four-game stint as UConn's starting quarterback during the 2013 season a baptism of fire doesn't quite do the situation justice. Boyle completed just 43.9 percent of his passes for 619 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass, had eight interceptions and was sacked 18 times in the four games.
"Being a true freshman coming in and four weeks in college of still trying to know where my classes are, figuring out what book is for what class and trying to learn an offense and manage an offensive line where the oldest guy was 23/24 years old so I think the big picture scared me last year," Boyle said. "I just had to let the game come to me, take a deep breath and everything is going to work out."
The schedule Boyle faced was downright brutal. After debuting against the South Florida team the Huskies will play on Friday, the next three games were against eventual American Athletic Conference champion Central Florida as well as Louisville and Cincinnati, which finished second and third in the AAC.
"It is no excuse," Boyle said. "The team trusted me to get the job done when I played last year and I thought I could do a better job. It was a learning experience, you have to find a silver lining in things so I have been able to do that."
Boyle believes he is more prepared this year when he a season ago.
"I think it was more confidence in myself, I knew I could do it but it is unfortunate it wasn't being done on the field," Boyle said. "The ball is definitely coming out a lot easier this year, I am not forcing anything and that has worked well for me."
While Whitmer is still the starter, UConn coach Bob Diaco has said on multiple occasions that he considers Boyle to be the program's quarterback of the future.
"Tim has all top-notch traits," Diaco said. "He is fast, he is big, he has great vision over the linemen. He has very strong arm, he can throw all the passes, he has good touch on shallow passes, he has nice touch on the deep passes. He can zip it from the hash to the (sideline); he has that kind of strength in his arm. He has enough escapability to be a problem so those are the things I like about him. He has top-flight tangible traits."
The relationship between Boyle and Diaco started well before Diaco was hired at UConn.
"He recruited me and when I was a junior (at Xavier) he came down to my high school and when he was (Notre Dame) defensive coordinator," Boyle said. "I was kind of shell shocked when I found out Notre Dame was here to talk to me so that took me off guard a little bit but then I went to the Junior Day there and me and him have had a good relationship even when we was at Notre Dame, he did a great job of showing me around Notre Dame when he was the defensive coordinator there. It was nice knowing he was becoming the coach here because we had a nice relationship prior."
Since he is as well dressed as any coach I have ever covered I had to ask Boyle about Diaco's wardrobe when he came to visit Boyle at Xavier.
"Same guy, always a suit and tie, always with the nice hair, knows what to say at the right times," Boyle said. "That I what I admire about Coach Diaco. he is never fake to anybody which is a great trait to have as a coach."
Boyle said knowing what his participation pattern is going to be heading into the games helps him deal with what could otherwise be an uncertain situation.
"I think Coach Diaco does a good job of letting me know when I am playing," Boyle said, "I think he does that for everyone so if Chandler goes down - knock on wood, I hope he doesn't Chandler is doing a nice job this year - and I need to be ready to go."
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