Thursday, April 18, 2013

Casey Cochran ready for spring game

There is no way of overstating how important these last few weeks have been for Casey Cochran.

The record-breaking quarterback out of Masuk High School has been given the opportunity to split time with returning starter Chandler Whitmer and Scott McCummings, who has seen time primarily as a QB in the wildcat formation. When the team gathers for fall camp, the number of quarterbacks vying for time will double with the arrival of freshmen Tim Boyle, Richard Lagow and Kivon Taylor so this has been a pivotal time for Cochran to open the eyes of the UConn coaches so he has a head start in earning the No. 2 quarterback position before the three recruits arrive on the scene.

"It is good to get all the work in," Cochran said. "Last year we had five QBs in the spring and we were splitting reps. This year with three QBs it has opened it up for us to get so many more reps. (UConn quarterbacks) Coach (Shane) Day has been challenging us on every play so I think every play in a mental process and it has been a really rewarding spring just being to go out there, make some plays, make some mistakes and learn from those mistakes.

"I think every guy out there is trying to show everything they’ve got on every play and I think that is huge for everybody in the spring. When we have this big break before we have fall camp and being able to show what you have before that break, before camp is huge for everybody here so I think that is a big deal."

Since Cochran graduated early from Masuk he was able to enroll in time for the spring semester and take part in spring drills. However, his first spring camp did not end the way he envisioned as he struggled in the spring game. Cochran was 4 of 15 with an interception and he was intercepted once. With just the three quarterbacks for this year's spring game, Cochran will start for one of the two teams while Whitmer will start for the other with McCummings playing for both teams so neither Cochran nor Whitmer will have to play the entire game.

Cochran is confident the fans heading out to Rentschler Field for the game on Saturday at noon will see a much improved quarterback from the one who played in the 2012 spring game or in high school.

"Since high school my arm has gotten better (and even) since last spring," Cochran said. "Being able to (make) different throws was huge in college. There are completely different throws that what you have to do in high school and I think arm strength is one thing that has improved and another thing is being able to learn the offense versus different defenses because the defenses are so complex."

UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni said there will be four 20-minute quarters with running time except for the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters where normal clock operation will be used. There will be punts and kickoffs with the returners able to catch the ball but there will be no returns in the game. UConn announced today that there will be some controlled portions of the scrimmage since injuries have caused issues at certain positions (linebacker is one that immediately comes to mind).

Linebacker Yawin Smallwood, offensive tackle Jimmy Bennett and defensive tackle Shamar Stephen are among the key players who will be held out of the game. Pasqualoni couldn't even put list a number of players who will be held out of the spring game but when I said "about 20" he said that sounded about right.

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