The annual Blue vs. White game on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Rentschler Field, East Hartford (SNY, WTIC), will be the first opportunity for Husky fans to preview the 2012 football team in action. Admission to the game is free, with parking lots opening at 10 a.m. and tailgating allowed.
For second-year head coach Paul Pasqualoni, it is the first time to see new and returning student-athletes in a real-time game situation, in order to evaluate individual performances before pre-season camp begins in August. Returning players are more familiar with the offensive and defensive playbooks after working with them for a year, and the new players are still learning about the highest level of college football.
“Every year is a different year,” Pasqualoni said earlier this week. “Last year the plan was to get the offense and defense installed, as well as special teams. We taught it for the first time. Then on top of that, evaluate the personnel. A year later, the offense and defense, the terminology is in, so we’re way ahead there.”
Yet with the graduation of many experienced players on the offensive and defensive lines – including All-Big East performers center Moe Petrus ’11 (CLAS) and offensive tackle Mike Ryan ’11 (CLAS) along with defensive tackles Kendall Reyes ’11 (CLAS) and Twyon Martin ’11 (CLAS) – there is much work to be done on both sides of the ball.
“It’s always been my personal belief on a football team you’re far better off building up front first and then moving back,” Pasqualoni said. “This whole spring is the offensive line, interior defensive line, and the quarterback.”
Last season, the quarterback position was wide open with Johnny McEntee ’12 (CLAS) and Scott McCummings ’13 (CLAS) splitting time behind center. This year Michael Nebrich ’14 (CLAS) hopes to see more action. Also in the mix are redshirt sophomore Chandler Whitmer ’14 (CLAS), a junior college transfer, and freshman Casey Cochran ’15 (CLAS), the Connecticut Player-of-the-Year for the past two years.
One of the highlights of the spring game is the return of former Husky stars to serve as honorary captains for the Blue and White squads. On Saturday, Blue coaches will be former team captains Roy Lawrence ’69 (ED), ’70 MA, and Tony Casarella ’70 (ED), ’72 MA. Lawrence, a longtime teacher in Columbia, Conn., was named to the 100th anniversary team as a lineman in 1998. Casarella, a retired math teacher at Rockville (Conn.) High School, played as a defensive tackle and a center.
The White coaches will be 1981 co-captains Ken Sweitzer ’81 (CLAS) and Dewey Raymond ’81 (CLAS). Sweitzer, the owner of Sweitzer Insurance LLC in Madison, Conn., was an Honorable Mention All-America pick as a quarterback and also a member of the 100th anniversary team. Raymond, who is associate director of development at the UConn Foundation, was a second team All-Yankee Conference selection as a defensive lineman.
Another former Husky captain will be at Rentschler Field on Saturday broadcasting the game. Former Husky defensive tackle Sean Mulcahy ’04 (BUS) will provide analysis for the SNY broadcast. Mulcahy is a Big East football analyst for SNY, which is the home of Big East Conference television broadcasts.
The Huskies’ 2012 season opens on Thursday, Aug. 30 against Massachusetts. Home games also include matchups against North Carolina State, Buffalo, Temple, South Florida, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati.