Monday, October 07, 2013

Playing true freshman quarterbacks a risk/reward proposition

You'd probably have to go back a ways to find a freshman at UConn making a more heralded first career start than what is awaiting former Xavier High quarterback Tim Boyle.

In his conference call the day that he was fired, former UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said he was intending to start Boyle against South Florida. Interim coach T.J. Weist wasted little time in announcing that he would be starting Boyle for the Huskies' inaugural American Athletic Conference game.

Obviously the subject will be a popular topic of conversation at tomorrow's press availability. Considering that Houston true freshman John O'Korn (the high school teammate of UConn freshman OL Kyle Schafenacker) ranks third in the American Athletic Conference in passing efficiency and fifth in passing yards per game, I asked Cougars' coach Tony Levine about the challenges that go with starting a true freshman at quarterback on today's AAC conference call.

"He was a real outstanding high school player and he really reminds me of John," Levine said. "I think he was very mature as a high school senior, certainly very talented. When you look at what we did with John’s development and how our schedule played out, we were able to play him basically a half in our opening game against Southern. We went up in game two and unfortunately lost our starter due to injury and because of the experience we gave John the week prior he was able to go in, be successful and slowly develop. I like how Coach Weist is now making the progression to  Tim and gave him another month or five/six weeks to develop, learn their system and adjust to the speed of the game.

"I think as coaches I think when you are going to play a young man at that position you have to make sure they are available especially early in the game to take some pressure off of him. We have done that in our program playing Greg Ward 25 snaps a game at quarterback as well. That position is so important but an 18-year-old has enough to worry about with classes, study hall, workouts and the transition to college that you can’t put the weight of the world on his shoulders too quickly because I have also seen true freshmen have a negative experience early and not be able to recover from it. I knew Tim from the recruiting process and was extremely impressed with him in high school and I think he will do a fantastic job there."

Levine believes having the extra week to prepare will make things more manageable for Boyle and the UConn coaching staff.

"The more these young men play the more snaps they get whether it is in practice on in games the faster they are going to improve, the better they are certainly going to perform," Levine said. "One thing as coaches you are always talking about is experience, well this guy’s got so much experience and to have an extra week to prepare, to get all the reps at practice, to continue to transition and adjustment to the speed of the game at this level because it is so much faster than high school, I think it is something that is invaluable."

Weist said he was impressed with Boyle's approach during practice last week.

"He has done a good job, he has shown maturity, physically he has done a good job handling the offense, getting the football off and handling all the schemes," Weist said. "The kid, he is well beyond him years from a maturity standpoint and now it is just a matter of getting him game experience and you never know how a kid is going to react, you never know how a player is going to react out there when there is pressure under the fire. We are going to try to put him in those situations in practice, try to get him to react this week to speed and pressure. It is going well, we have been pleased with him."

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home