Sunday, August 30, 2015

It's finally official: Shirreffs is UConn's starting QB

A year ago there was some actual mystery involved in the naming of UConn's starting quarterback, a job that went to Casey Cochran before one too many concussions resulted in the retirement of the former Masuk High star.

Well, there would be no such drama this season. While UConn coach Bob Diaco waited until today to announce that Bryant Shirreffs would start Thursday's season opener against Villanova, it was abundantly obvious that the North Carolina State quarterback was the clear choice to win the job.

In the two scrimmages we were allowed to watch Shirreffs was head and shoulders above the competition. In the second one, Shirreffs worked exclusively with the first-team offense while Tim

In the two scrimmages during preseason camp, both held at Rentschler Field, Shirreffs was unofficially 22 of 32 passing for 236 yards with two touchdowns and an interception as he was easily the most productive quarterback. Now it is time for Shirreffs to take control of an offense which has lacked quality play from the quarterback position since the graduation of Dan Orlovsky.

"People will tell me all the time that we have had struggles at UConn all the time in the quarterback area but I couldn't tell you that much about it because I have only been here a year," Shirreffs said. "I just know what I can do and I am going to do it to the best of my ability.

"I don't think any other quarterback is trying not to play well, I am going to try to play the best that I can. I wanted to be the best I can be and wherever the coaches, wherever I was on the depth chart, that was up to them. I wanted to prepare the best that I could and have it show up on the field. I don't really think of first string, second string, seventh string, that doesn't matter to me as long as we are winning."

Shirreffs played in eight games as a freshman at North Carolina State in 2013, running the ball 34 times and passing it five times. In his second game Shirreffs had a 28-yard touchdown run and a 7-yard TD pass in a win over Richmond.

While Shirreffs has displayed arm strength and accuracy during camp, his ability to make plays with his legs will provide an added dimension to UConn's offense.

"I can't wait to watch," UConn senior running back Max DeLorenzo said of Shirreffs taking command of the offense. "He leads by example more than by vocal but we have some other vocal guys but he will be even more of a leader when he starts making plays like I know he will."

It will be a new era with not only a new quarterback but also a first-year offensive coordinator in Frank Verducci.

"I love Bryant Shirreffs, I think his teammates will say that he is one of if not the hardest working guy on the team," Verducci said. "Bryant Shirreffs is a guy that every minute you invest with him, you get a return, he is a joy to work with."



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