Quarterback Competition In Full Swing

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UConn Athletic Communications / August 14, 2022

STORRS – With less than two weeks to go until the UConn football team’s season opener at Utah State (Aug. 27), the Huskies’ four-way quarterback competition continues in full swing.

And with the team’s practice time evolving this week from fall camp mode to season mode, the intensity is about to ramp up exponentially for Ta’Quan Roberson, Tyler Phommachanh, Zion Turner and Cale Millen .

“The first attribute I’m looking for is, ‘Is the guy a good decision maker?’ ” UConn coach Jim Mora said when asked what the four-man race will decide. “I think that’s very important at that position because he handles the ball, he runs the offense, he has to take big decisions If you don’t have a man who makes good decisions, then you will have inconsistencies. and you don’t want inconsistency.

“The second thing you want to see is accuracy and timing and a guy who can put it where it should be when it should be there, I put that over arm strength. The third thing is mobility — he has of being able to stay alive in the pocket, find throwing lanes, buy some pocket time, and if he can get downfield and make plays with his legs, that’s a factor.

“The fourth thing would be leadership. You need a guy who can take over. When things aren’t going well, he knows how to fix things. When there’s a feeling they need to be put in place, he can pick them up. and get them going. You’re looking for somebody that your team will answer to. And then you want balance: You’ve got to have somebody who’s prepared and can take tough situations, think about it, and go back to No. 1: good decisions.”

While the head coach may have clearly laid out the path to the starting quarterback spot, that doesn’t mean any of the four contenders took steps toward it during Saturday’s second-team game.

“I wish I could say, ‘This guy jumped on me or those guys jumped on me,’ I just can’t say,” he said. “That doesn’t mean I’m disappointed with any of them because they’re working on it. Am I disappointed with the day we had in that position? Yes. Am I disappointed with the players? No. But we’ve got to start making some. progress on real time in this position.”

The tight-knit group of quarterbacks knew Saturday’s game wasn’t the best day for the offense, but they’re encouraged by the overall progress they made during camp and are ready for the final two weeks of competition.

“We know we have to come together more and perform better,” said Roberson, the redshirt sophomore transfer from Penn State. “But as a group we are competing very well and we are very close to the field.

“As a football player and a quarterback, you can never be complacent. No matter where you are on the depth chart, you always have to have that starter mentality because you never know what can happen. I think my biggest improvement is knowing the ‘attack. and play faster. I try to improve at least one percent every day.”

Redshirt freshman Phommachanh, who was a starter for the Huskies last year before a season-ending knee injury, is looking to get back on his feet.

“It’s been a good competition because we all have skills,” he said. “Nobody comes out here to sit on the bench, everybody wants to be a No. 1. We’re all competing to the best of our abilities and doing what we can do to get on the field against Utah State.

“I think my strength is my ability to create, to extend plays when there is nothing.”

Turner has been impressive as a true freshman. He knows what his coach is looking for in a starter.

“I think I’ve improved in my decision-making,” he said. “Just being able to go over film every day and evaluate what we’re doing is helping me get better. The game moves a lot faster (than high school), but I think I have a pretty good IQ. And coach Mora is. come up with a great plan to help us get better.”

Coach Nick Charlton, the Huskies’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, knows decision time is fast approaching.

“It’s not just today, it’s the whole body of work, and it’s becoming clearer,” he said. “I’ll sit down with coach and we’ll grade everything. We have a good idea where he’s going, but we have to evaluate it. There’s not necessarily a clear No. 1. We’ll go over the tape from today and go from here, and that’s my ‘coach-speak’ answer.”

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