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Whitmer has stepped up to the challenge

3/26/2013

UConn has had only a handful of practices so far, but that has been enough for new offensive coordinator T.J. Weist to like what he has seen out of quarterback Chandler Whitmer.

Quarterback has been a position of uncertainty over the past several seasons for the Huskies. But Whitmer has an opportunity to change that. If he starts the opener, UConn would have the same starting quarterback in the season opener in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2009-10.

The quarterback job this spring is his to lose.

"I think Chandler has stepped up to the challenge," Weist said Tuesday in a phone interview. "He’s done well, he’s produced, he’s been a good leader. He’s had a good command presence on the field. He’s energetic and done a great job running the first team. He's kept the first spot from my standpoint. I don’t think it’s necessarily wide open. Going in, it was his to lose."

Whitmer obviously goes into the spring with much more experience than the other quarterbacks the Huskies have, but he also has plenty to work on as the 2013 season nears. For one, he is learning a new offensive system. For another, he has to find a way to cut down on his mistakes. Whitmer threw 16 interceptions to just nine touchdown passes, and completed 57 percent of his passes in 2012.

While it is true there were breakdowns at just about every position on offense, all eyes focus on the quarterback. If Whitmer can play more efficiently, then the offense will be more efficient. Weist said part of his evaluation of Whitmer has focused on what led to the mistakes he made in games.

"You ask, 'Why were these mistakes made?' and then teach him," Weist said. "Let’s look at your mistakes, let’s see why you made these mistakes, from that standpoint you look at it again, is he making the same mistakes? Is he making bad decisions still? Has he learned from those decisions he made in the past?"

To that end, the scrimmage the Huskies will hold Saturday is extremely important in showing how far Whitmer has come and how far he still has left to go.

"For us, obviously we put him in practice situations, but we turn the heat up, we scrimmage, we play in live situations," Weist said. "You always ask, 'How is his decision making?' This Saturday is going to be a telltale point for him. Does he make better decisions?"