Bisack looking good in fight for UConn football backup quarterback job

Published on Thursday, 5 April 2018 21:11
Written by Neill Ostrout

Journal Inquirer

STORRS - The name atop the depth chart at quarterback for the UConn football team next season isn’t yet carved in stone. But senior David Pindell has at a minimum been penciled in as the Huskies’ starter in 2018.

But who will serve as the Huskies’ back-up - and given the hits that the team’s quarterbacks have taken in recent years, it’s a vital role - is still up in the air.

That’s why sophomore Brandon Bisack, along with redshirt freshmen Jordan McAfee and Marvin Washington, are trying to draw the coaches’ eyes as the Huskies go through spring practices.

UConn head coach Randy Edsall says he’s not as worried about what Bisack, a 6-foot-5 former walk-on from Fairfield, is capable of doing. He’s curious about the abilities of McAfee and Washington to perform under pressure.

“David’s taken all the reps with the 1’s all spring,” Edsall said after Tuesday morning’s practice at the Shenkman Center. “We know what Brandon can do, and he gets reps. But we have to find out what Marvin and Jordan can do. They didn’t get a lot of work because they redshirted last year.”

Washington, a 6-foot-1 standout from Orlando, knows he and McAfee in particular are in some ways in the “put up or shut up” phase of their careers.

“Now we know the game is real. No more redshirts. We’re competing,” Washington said.

McAfee, a 6-foot-4 native of Everett, Massachusetts, admits that sitting out a year of play in 2017 wasn’t much fun for him. He, like many of his teammates, was a star in high school - he led Everett High to the Division I Super Bowl in Massachusetts as a senior - and was eager to become the same at this level.

“When I came here I knew I’d have to fight for a job. But coming off a high school career like that, coming here to sit out, I was bummed out for a little bit. I was off,” McAfee said. “But I’m glad I’m learning from David and all them through this process. It’s a good and bad experience at the same time.”

Pindell, Bisack, Washington and McAfee all seem to believe they have what it takes to lead the Huksy offense, but it’s not a competition that has created enmity, they insist.

“We get along pretty good. We know we’re all here for one reason but it’s a friendly competition,” Washington said. “Off the field we’re pretty solid, pretty good friends.”

Bisack has perhaps been the most polished of the three this spring, though both McAfee and Washington have shown flashes as well. But Edsall admits he won’t have a complete depth chart ready when spring practice ends anyway.

“We’re not going to have a clear No. 2 until we get into the season. Because we have a freshman coming in and you’re going to evaluate him as well,” said Edsall, referring to quarterback Steven Krajewski, who will arrive from Moultrie, Georgia this summer.

For Bisack, who threw for 2,575 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior at Warde High School, he’s already achieved one of his primary goals at UConn. He came to the Huskies as a walk-on but later was awarded a scholarship. “My goal coming to UConn was I wanted that scholarship and I wanted to play,” Bisack said.

The second part may come soon, or it may not.

“Brandon is coming along well. He understands the offense, knows the offense, has good command of it,” Edsall said. “He does a good job of directing guys.”

But Edsall cautions that doesn’t mean Bisack will necessarily be playing on Saturday’s in the coming season.

“You just don’t know how things will shake out,” Edsall said. “Sometimes you can do everything the right way, go out and work hard, and there could be people that are better than you that get that opportunity.”

Mensah messes up

Running back Kevin Mensah, the Huskies top returning rusher and likely starter in 2018, has a little academic issue and was held out of practice Tuesday by the coaches.

“He didn’t do the things he was supposed to do in the classroom,” Edsall said of the 5-foot-9 sophomore from Worcester.

Nate Hopkins and Zavier Scott, the latter of whom appears to be having a very successful first spring with the Huskies, both absorbed extra repetitions with Mensah absent.

“We’ll determine whether he’ll be out here on Thursday or Saturday or the rest of the way,” Edsall of Mensah, before correcting himself. “Well, he’ll determine it. I won’t. I just go by what they do.”

Missing men

Tight end Tyler Davis and nose tackle Kevin Murphy both missed Tuesday’s practice. Both suffered blows to the head recently and are in the concussion protocol.

Cornerback Jordan Swann was in uniform but Edsall said he was limited by a sprained ankle. True freshman Shamel Lazarus worked with the No. 1 defense in Swann’s place.

Moping morning

The Huskies are practicing Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays this spring, workouts that will culminate April 14 with the Blue-White Game at Pratt & Whitney Stadium.

Edsall has seen that over the last few weeks, Tuesdays are by far his team’s worst days. The extra time off sometimes creates sloppy practices.

“It wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked it last week, and then I just saw that this week. Yeah, I know there was a basketball game last night but you still have to get your rest. Sometimes you have to sacrifice that stuff,” Edsall said, confessing he didn’t watch a minute of the Villanova-Michigan title game Monday evening.

Posted in New Britain Herald, UConn on Thursday, 5 April 2018 21:11. Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2018 21:14.