STORRS – Mama always warned you to wear a helmet when bicycling—but that doesn’t give much protection to your wrist.
Casey Cochran, who led his teams (New London High and Masuk) to three state championships in four years, broke his wrist in a bike accident and may not be ready to play for UConn at the start of the 2012 season.
The already muddled UConn quarterback situation just got a lot more muddlier. Casey Cochran, the highly touted freshman who led both New London and Masuk to state championships has sustained a broken wrist. According to UConn spokesperson Mike Enright, Cochran broke his left (i.e. non-throwing) wrist in a bicycle accident. Surgery is scheduled for Friday.
Cochran, a New London native, grew up in the Whaling City and led New London High to the CIAC Class SS championship in 2008 as a freshman. After moving to Monroe and transferring to Masuk, he led the Panthers to the Class L state championship in 2010, and was named the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012. He graduated early from Masuk with a 3.94 GPA. That allowed him to enroll early at UConn and participate in this year’s Blue-White spring game at Rentschler Field.
His performance in the annual scrimmage, however, was underwhelming—certainly for someone with his resume. Cochran graduated from Monroe as Connecticut’s all-time high school leader in passing yards and completions. Playing for the Blue team, the 6-1, 215-lb. Cochran completed 4 of 15 passes for 46 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
“I thought today went well,” said Cochran, ever the spin doctor, immediately after the scrimmage an impartial observer would describe as a rude awakening on what it will take to be successful at the next level. “[I was] just getting out here and getting some of the jitters out. Playing my first game since December was a good feeling, but I have some stuff to work on over the summer.”
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Cochran, was expected to compete for the Huskies’ starting QB position with returnees Johnny McEntee, Scott McCummings and Michael Nebrich as well as junior college transfer Chandler Whitmer. Now, that’s all on hold. Surgery is scheduled on Friday. Enright said that Cochran’s recovery timeline would be announced after the surgery.
Even a normal recovery period of 6-8 weeks would put Cochran at a huge disadvantage vis-à-vis his competition. According to that timeframe, he wouldn’t even be able to take a snap until mid-September. It might make more sense just to redshirt Cochran for this, his true freshman season, and start things anew in 2013. That way he could participate in practice, get used to the system and his receivers, and then still have four years of eligibility ahead of him next season.
The Connecticut football program was on a meteoric trajectory under former head coach Randy Edsall, who led the Huskies to the Big East title and their first postseason BCS appearance—The Fiesta Bowl—in 2010-11. That year the was the ultimate series of peaks and valleys for the Huskies, who made a splash on the national level by defeating Notre Dame in South Bend in overtime on national TV, while also suffering the loss of Jasper Howard, their popular defensive captain, who was senselessly murdered at an on-campus event by an uninvited off-campus thug in the middle of the season.
But it was the Fiesta Bowl that was supposed to be the Huskies’ crown jewel of success. A BCS Bowl! Instead, the Connecticut athletic department quickly found out what a difficult proposition it was attempting to sell tickets to a football game 2,500 miles away in the desert during holiday break. Indeed, the university only sold 2,771 of its allotted 17,500 tickets, absorbing the cost of the rest. The end result was that the Huskies were completely embarrassed on the field—spanked 48-20 by the Oklahoma Sooners—and devastated at the box office, losing a reported $1.8 million on the venture.
Then, to make matters worse, Edsall gave the University, his team and the entire state a one-finger salute when he promptly boarded a plane to Maryland—never even returning to Connecticut with his players—to take the Terrapins’ job. Former Syracuse coach and Connecticut native Paul Pasqualoni—the winningest coach in Big East football history—took over for Edsall, but it has been a slow build to say the least. In 2011, Pasqualoni’s first year with the Huskies, Connecticut sported a 5-7 record overall, but just 4-7 against Div. 1-A teams—and that includes a victory over Buffalo, which sports just one winning season (in 2008) and an overall 35-118 since joining the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and (technically, at least) playing 1-A ball since 1999.
The Huskies will open the season 2012 season on Thurs., Aug. 30 at Rentschler Field against the University of Massachusetts. Kick-off is slated for 7:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on SNY.