STORRS – The intrigue surrounding Connecticut's regular season finale in football will continue to build each and every day leading up to Saturday when the Huskies play Cincinnati at Rentschler Field. And adding to that intrigue will be the status of starting quarterback Chandler Whitmer.
UConn (5-6, 2-4 Big East) can become bowl eligible with a victory over Cincinnati (8-3, 4-2). The Huskies are in this position after consecutive victories over Pittsburgh (24-17 at The Rent) and No. 19 Louisville (23-20 in three overtimes on the road). But Whitmer, UConn's starter all season, was knocked out of last Saturday's game after taking a hit to the head from Louisville linebacker Preston Brown in the fourth quarter.
Coach Paul Pasqualoni called the injury a possible concussion after the game Saturday but has not used that word to officially describe Whitmer's condition since. Pasqualoni opened his Tuesday press conference with the Connecticut media by commenting on Whitmer. He said Whitmer's work would be limited on Tuesday and then he would be evaluated again.
"Chandler Whitmer is doing pretty good," Pasqualoni said. "We're optimistic as we work through the week that Chandler will be available. It will be a day-to-day evaluation process."
It's an interesting situation for the Huskies because senior walk-on Johnny McEntee, UConn's 2011 starter, came off the bench and helped lift the Huskies to their dramatic win over Louisville at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. McEntee completed only 2 of 7 passes for 20 yards, but one of the completions was a 7-yard TD pass to Shakim Phillips in overtime.
Pasqualoni said he would wait until the medical staff tells him Whitmer can be on the field. Until that happens, McEntee will take most of the snaps in practice. Sophomore Scott McCummings will continue to be UConn's quarterback when the Huskies turn to the wildcat package.
Either way, McEntee will be one of 16 players honored on UConn's Senior Day. McEntee, who is from Fullerton, Calif., said Tuesday he plans on having at least 15 family members and friends on hand for the game. UConn ended the 2011 season with a 35-27 loss at Cincinnati that kept the Huskies from bowl participation.
The Huskies trailed in that game 28-6 at halftime but McEntee threw two touchdown passes as UConn rallied in the second half.
"I think we all would've given anything for an extra five minutes in that game," McEntee said. "What happened at the start of that game was awful and it still keeps me up at night. We came back and we were rolling but we just ran out of time."