For the first time since 2006, the Huskies can only sit back and watch as the rest of the college football world enjoys the bowl season. The players now will focus on academics and upcoming final exams for the fall semester. The coaching staff will immediately hit the road in an effort to complete the first full recruiting class of the Paul Pasqualoni era.
In a teleconference call Sunday, Pasqualoni offered some thoughts on Saturday's loss to Cincinnati and a 5-7 season (3-4 Big East) that was defined by offensive problems and the transition to a new coaching style and system. He also took a quick look into the future. In addition to concentrating on recruiting, Pasqualoni said the coaching staff will engage in a "quality control" process that will include critiquing all offensive and defensive plays from the past season, player evaluations and analysis.
"Then we will make decisions on how to improve what we implemented in spring practice," Pasqualoni said.
There's no doubt the quarterback position will be closely watched again in the spring. UConn emerged from fall camp with three quarterbacks. Eventually, Johnny McEntee emerged as the starter in UConn's pro style set. But UConn really ran two distinct offenses with backup QB Scott McCummings entering the game to run his package of "wildcat" or "spread" offensive plays.
I asked Pasqualoni if he would prefer to settle on one offensive style for the 2012 season. His response was interesting.
"I would really enjoy - and I think it could make it very exciting and add a great deal to our offense - if we can maintain a wildcat package," he said. "It just makes the defense do so much more work. It makes them line up all their blitzes, spend time doing that. We're going to be a pro style of attack, clearly, but at the same time, we would like to have a wildcat concept.
"It doesn't necessarily have to be with a different quarterback. It can be. It can be with a quarterback that can run both or it can be, we did this, when it started, we did it with Ronnie Brown [with the Miami Dolphins]. We did it with a running back [taking a direct snap]. It can be somebody on the field at a different position. That's what you go through in the offseason and that's what you have spring practice for to see exactly what the personnel can do, who has what skill set. I would like to have that element of the offense in our system."
Pasqualoni was an assistant coach with the Dolphins from 2008-09 and Miami caused multiple headaches with direct snaps to running back Ronnie Brown.
McEntee, a redshirt junior, is UConn's pro style drop-back passer. He started all 12 games and completed 172 of 335 passes for 2,110 yards and 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. McCummings threw just 10 passes but, working in the wildcat package, he was UConn's second-leading rusher with 285 yards.
Freshman Mike Nebric received playing time as well this season and is expected to be in the mix. Joining the Huskies will be recruit Casey Cochran, the two-time Gatorade Connecticut high school player of the year from Masuk High. But it seems unlikely Cochran will be thrown into the starting role as a true freshman.
Cochran is part of a 17-member recruiting class that will likely grow to 20 or 25, according to Pasqualoni. Ansonia running back Montrell Dobbs, who committed to UConn in June, is not part of that class because he did not meet NCAA academic requirements.
The recruiting contact period began last week but UConn assistants focused on the Cincinnati game and did not go out on the road. The contact period, which includes several quiet and dead periods, ends Jan. 28, 2012. National signing day is Feb. 1.