STORRS - David Pindell, who began the season as the UConn football teamâ€™s starting quarterback, will return to that role Saturday when the Huskies take on No. 14 Central Florida.
Senior Bryant Shirreffs, who sustained a concussion in the Huskiesâ€™ 37-20 loss to South Florida last weekend, will miss UConnâ€™s game in Orlando on Saturday as he recovers.
Pindell, a junior who is in his first season with the Huskies after transferring from Lackawanna Junior College, has served as Shirreffsâ€™ backup for the last eight games.
â€śHeâ€™s handled it great. David is a solid, steady kid,â€ť UConn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said Tuesday. â€śHeâ€™s pretty quiet but heâ€™s always studying things.â€ť
Pindell, who has played in the fourth quarter of UConnâ€™s last two games with the Huskies facing big deficits, is 25-of-44 for 222 yards this season. He has thrown one interception and no touchdown passes, though he has rushed for one.
â€śIâ€™ve just been taking the coaching one day at a time, doing what coach Lashlee teaches me and learning a lot from Bryant,â€ť Pindell said.
Itâ€™s not clear when Shirreffs will be back on the field for UConn (3-6, 2-4 American), though itâ€™s conceivable he could return for its Nov. 18 game against Boston College at Fenway Park.
Shirreffs has completed 65.8 percent of his passes this season for 2,287 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions.
â€śIâ€™ve been really proud of Bryant. Heâ€™s a really tough guy,â€ť Lashlee said. â€śThereâ€™s a lot of times he gets the ball off and he takes a shot. And thatâ€™s the nature of playing the position. But the courage he has to stand in there and take those hits has really impressed me.â€ť
Running back roulette
UConn is close to getting back one or both of its injured running backs this week.
Arkeel Newsome (clavicle) and Nate Hopkins (shoulder), neither of whom played in last weekâ€™s loss, are both on the depth chart. Both players practiced Tuesday, Lashlee said.
â€śItâ€™s kind of a day-to-day deal. They practiced today. Weâ€™re confident theyâ€™ll be ready to go,â€ť Lashlee said.
Freshman Kevin Mensah, coming off a solid, 95-yard rushing effort against South Florida last week in his first career start, is still listed as the starter.
Mensah has rushed for a team-high 369 yards this season, Hopkins 301 yards, and Newsome 218. Newsome is also one of the teamâ€™s top receiver targets, having caught 22 passes for 407 yards this season.
In addition to a switch at quarterback, UConn is changing around its defensive lineup this week.
Junior Anthony Watkins is slated to start against UCF, replacing freshman Brayden Brown. Brown is taking a brief leave from the Huskies because of a death in his family.
Senior cornerback Jamar Summers, who was suspended for the first three quarters of the USF game, is back among the starters. Freshman Jordan Swann was moved to a back-up role to make room. Senior Tre Bell will start at the opposite corner.
The other notable change to UConnâ€™s depth chart is the return of backup safety John Robinson. Robinson has been suspended the previous two games for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
One week after facing the Flash, UConn is facing another superhero.
USF quarterback Quinton Flowers amassed 516 yards of total offense last weekend against the Huskies, and now UConn heads to face UCF and its talented quarterback, McKenzie Milton.
Milton is second in the nation in passing efficiency (189.1) and second in completion percentage (70.0). He had a career-high 412 yards passing last week for the Knights in their win over SMU.
â€śHeâ€™s very smart. Heâ€™s completing over 70 percent of his passes. He knows where to go with the football,â€ť UConn defensive coordinator Billy Crocker said.
â€śIf you watch them last year - I watched almost all their games last year and all their games this year - Iâ€™ve never seen an offense improve in one season the way this offense has,â€ť Crocker said. â€śThey were not a great offense last year. And this year? Theyâ€™re the best in the country statistically.â€ť
Edsall and Edsall
UConn head coach Randy Edsall was not in attendance for his weekly press conference with reporters on Tuesday. Instead, the coach was attending a pre-trial hearing for the appeal a state ethics boardâ€™s ruling against him and his son.
In July the state Board of Ethics ruled that UConn violated Connecticutâ€™s ethics laws when it hired Corey Edsall has tight ends coach.
The board did allow Corey Edsall to serve as an assistant coach this season, provided his one-year contract is not renewed.
The basic argument is whether or not Randy Edsall was a state employee on Dec. 28 when he negotiated a deal for his son to come to work at UConn. Edsallâ€™s contract called for him to begin work Jan. 3, though he had already agreed to take on the job by Dec. 28.