Tuesday, November 27, 2012

McEntee will be ready if called upon

Johnny McEntee, UConn's starting quarterback during the 2011 season, has been pushed into the background as junior-college transfer Chandler Whitmer wrestled the starting quarterback spot away from his during spring drills.

When Whitmer was knocked out of Saturday's game at Louisville after taking a vicious shot, McEntee was asked to lead the Huskies to its first road win against a ranked opponent. While his numbers weren't gaudy, he did throw a TD pass to Shakim Phillips in the second overtime.

McEntee, who could be pressed into duty again on Saturday when the Huskies host Cincinnati in a game UConn needs to win to become bowl eligible, just viewed his role in overtime as simply needing to deliver when given the opportunity.

“It was just a big win for the program and I was happy to be a part of it,” McEntee said.

“It was a good feeling,” McEntee said. “You don’t know if you are helping the team at all or what your role is. To be able to contribute something, the whole offense did a great job during that overtime scoring drive and it was just a great feeling.”

McEntee’s teammates jokingly called him “Johnny Football” which is the nickname of Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy candidate Johnny Manziel. McEntee was having none of that but it was a sign of the level of appreciation his teammates have for the way McEntee handled losing his starting job.”

“Johnny has handled everything terrific,” UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said. “Johnny is a team guy. Johnny is interested in doing whatever is in the best interest of the team so Johnny hasn’t been anything but a team guy from day one. He is a senior, this is his senior class and it is a program he has worked at for four years. To go on the road in the Big East against a top 20 team and win the game in the end, that is something that is an achievement that is a memory that this team, Johnny McEntee and seniors will have forever. That is something they will never forget ever. They may forget their wife’s birthday but they will never forget that win in Louisville.”

McEntee has toiled in relative obscurity behind the scenes, not making waves even when Whitmer was named the starter on the eve of the start of fall camp.

“At first it was a little tough but I just accepted it,” McEntee said. “I just wanted to have fun with my fellow seniors and guys I came in with.”

Pasqualoni didn’t have much of an update on Whitmer’s status and he would not even confirm if he was diagnosed with a concussion.

“Chandler Whitmer is doing pretty good,” Pasqualoni said. “We are really going to limit his work (Tuesday) and reevaluate it each day and we are optimistic as we go through the week that Chandler will be available. It will be a day to day evaluation process.

“We are going to cut Chandler’s down so at least (Tuesday) Johnny will get reps and of course Scotty (McCummings) will get reps. Chandler will make most of his work (as) mental reps. As we go through the week, we have plenty of time. Chandler has gone through this stuff over and over again and we are just going to work through it and see how it goes during the week and make a decision.”

Following a press conference announcing women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma’s partnership with the university’s school of business for a leadership conference held at Mohegan Sun Casino on Apr. 29-30, UConn president Susan Herbst was asked for an update on the conference realignment rumors.

Herbst had no comment was asked whether the Atlantic Coast Conference was closing in on making an offer for the Huskies to become an ACC school and also offered a no comment when pressed to see if UConn would accept the invite from the ACC.

Herbst talked in general terms about putting the interests of the student-athletes first.
“They are there to work hard, have fun and give us a lot of joy especially in the rough winter and we want (them) to be a success academically,” Herbst said. “I think my role is to try to keep perspective on the student-athletes.

“I don’t know how realignment is going to end or how it is settled but we have to focus on the students and they really everything is going to be OK.”

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