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Frazer, Huskies eager for new offensive style

2/26/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
The new Connecticut offense won't officially be installed until spring practice begins in a few weeks. But the bits and pieces the players have picked up from first-year offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead have provided all the motivation they need for offseason workouts.

"It's going to be a completely different approach to playing the game," quarterback Zach Frazer said. "We're going to put up 40 points a game. We'll be a high-scoring, fast-tempo offense. I love it."

That description doesn't sound anything like the Huskies attack we've come to know over the past few seasons. UConn seemed allergic to passing last year; it ranked 109th nationally at just 139.7 passing yards per game, and its quarterbacks combined for just five passing touchdowns while tossing 17 interceptions.

By the time the International Bowl rolled around, head coach Randy Edsall was content to just put the ball in Donald Brown's belly every down. The Huskies ran the ball 49 times and threw only six passes in their win over Buffalo.

Brown is now gone, and apparently so too are the team's plodding ways. Edsall hired Moorhead away from Akron to infuse UConn with a no-huddle offense that will look to spread the ball around and utilize the passing game much more.

"We're definitely going to open it up," Frazer said. "We're not taking the running game out of it. It'll just be different formations and looks and a no-huddle, up-tempo type of game."

Moorhead's first order of business will be finding a quarterback to run the show. Expect a fierce battle this spring between Frazer and Cody Endres, both of whom got starts last season when Tyler Lorenzen was injured. Neither distinguished himself.

Frazer, a junior, led the Huskies to a comeback win at Louisville after Lorenzen hurt his foot but threw six interceptions against two touchdowns for the season. Endres, a sophomore who started against Cincinnati and West Virginia, completed only 46.4 percent of his throws with no touchdowns and three interceptions.

Both quarterbacks have similar skill sets. But Frazer, a highly-touted high school player who transferred from Notre Dame two years ago, is confident in his chances.

"I'm winning this job," he said. "I'm tired of waiting. I didn't come here to sit or come off the bench. I'm playing this year."

Frazer said he's lost about 13 pounds this offseason while trying to get stronger and faster. He said he thinks he's "a perfect fit" for the no-huddle offense because he ran it in high school. And he's trying to build on what he learned in his first playing experience last year.

"As a player and as a leader, I need to develop a lot more and show my leadership skills a lot more," he said. "I need to work on getting everything together and work on my footwork."

The new offensive philosophy figures to be quite an adjustment for UConn this spring. Frazer said the quarterbacks and receivers have been working out diligently during the winter in an effort to build chemistry that obviously wasn't there a season ago. As shaky as the quarterbacks were, the receivers drew heavy criticism from fans and even Edsall for not making plays.

"We're getting on the same page," he said. "It was tough last year because I never knew if I'd be in or out or what plays we were going to run. It was very confusing, and I think the wideouts were confused as well. We'd call a pass play, and in the huddle everybody would be like, 'What? What do you mean? Are you sure?'"

"Everybody is saying we don't have wideouts here, that we can't catch and we can't throw the ball. We're going to prove everybody wrong."