Stamford Advocate

Edsall won’t name starting QB for opener

The position remains a mystery for Huskies heading into Saturday’s tilt at Fresno State

- By Doug Bonjour

If UConn football coach Randy Edsall knows who his quarterbac­k will be for Saturday’s season opener at Fresno State, he still isn’t saying.

“It is what it is,” Edsall told reporters Tuesday when asked if he’s decided on a starter. “We’ll find out on Saturday.”

To this point, Edsall hasn’t spilled any secrets. UConn released a depth chart on Monday, although not a very definitive one. Sophomore Jack Zergiotis and redshirt sophomore Steven Krajewski were listed as “or,” offering little clarity about which way Edsall is leaning as the Huskies prepare to play their first game in 637 days.

Edsall poked fun at the subject during his Zoom availabili­ty, telling reporters he “put the ‘ors’ in there so you guys have something to talk about and write about and the fans have something to stew about. ‘Oh, they can’t make a decision.’ You just want to keep everybody on their toes and let people have the right to have conversati­ons.”

For what it’s worth, Zergiotis is the most experience­d of the two. The 6-foot-1 Canadian played in 10 games as a freshman in 2019, passing for 1,782 yards with nine touchdowns and 11 intercepti­ons. That included a 418-yard, threetouch­down performanc­e in

a loss to East Carolina, one of 10 on the season for the Huskies.

Meanwhile, Krajewski, who played in just four games after fracturing his left clavicle, threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and two intercepti­ons. The 6-4 Michigan native redshirted during the previous season.

The other quarterbac­ks on the roster — redshirt junior Micah Leon and freshman Tyler Phommachan­h, a Stratford native — have yet to take a snap in college.

UConn did not compete in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns and is entering new territory as an independen­t program. While the past few seasons haven’t been very fruitful — the Huskies are just 6-30 since Edsall returned to Storrs in 2017 — expectatio­ns are heightened coming off the long layoff. Edsall, who guided the team to five bowl appearance­s during his first go-round, believes the Huskies are positioned to win again.

He hopes to find the quarterbac­k who can help them do just that.

“Those two guys have been competing and competing very hard,” Edsall said of Zergiotis and Krajewski. “The one thing that you want, you want your quarterbac­k to execute the game plan. You want them to be smart with the football. You want somebody that’s going to take what the defense gives you understand­ing that we have good skill players around them.”

“They don’t have to be Superman,” he added. “If you just go and execute what you’re supposed to do, you can be very, very efficient. Those are the things that I think both of them have gotten better at.”

Edsall said that’s a product of experience.

“They have their difference­s in terms of skill set, which I’m not going to get into,” he said. “But again, the biggest thing for me is who’s the guy that can execute the plan that we have in place that we think gives us the best opportunit­y to win?”

Senior left tackle Ryan Van Demark, one of three captains, said both have intangible­s that could serve the Huskies well.

“Jack, he’s a great communicat­or. He really grabs the offense by the horns and puts everybody in their place. He’s a natural leader,” Van Demark said. “Steve is the same way. Steve is very vocal on the field. He’s always making checks and correction­s, and that’s just really what a quarterbac­k needs to do. A quarterbac­k needs to go out there and control the offense, take what the defense gives them and then make their checks from there.”

Essentiall­y, Van Demark doesn’t see much of a difference between the two.

“They both have their positives and negatives,” he said. “Their positives far outweigh their negatives. They’re just two great guys. … It doesn’t matter for me who’s back there (at quarterbac­k) as long as we’re not getting them hit.”

The uncertaint­y notwithsta­nding, Edsall feels good about where his team is at. The Huskies have more depth and experience than the past, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Of the projected starters along the front seven, five are upperclass­men, including junior defensive tackle Travis Jones, a preseason candidate for the Bednarik Award.

Generally speaking, Edsall should have more flexibilit­y to sort out the depth chart.

“All these guys that are listed on two-deep have the ability to be on the field playing,” Edsall said. “I don’t ever get hung up on the ‘ors’ or anything along those lines.”

EDSALL ON COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

Edsall said he’s not in favor of requiring fans to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend games this season at Rentschler Field. A few schools have already enacted such policies, including Oregon, Oregon State, LSU and Tulane.

“I think everybody has the right to determine whether or not they want to be vaccinated,” Edsall said, adding that six of his players remain unvaccinat­ed. “You’re in an outdoor environmen­t. Maybe I’m different, but I just don’t agree with that. But I’m not the guy who makes those decisions.”

 ?? Mitchell Leff / Getty Images ?? UConn’s Steven Krajewski runs the ball against Temple in 2019.
Mitchell Leff / Getty Images UConn’s Steven Krajewski runs the ball against Temple in 2019.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States