Senior Bryant Shirreffs will start at quarterback for the UConn football team Saturday against USF, head coach Randy Edsall announced at his weekly press conference Tuesday at the Burton Family Football Complex.
“You make the decision that you think is best for your team,” Edsall said. “Bryant is the guy that is the starter for us against South Florida.”
Shirreffs stepped in for junior college transfer David Pindell last Thursday against FCS opponent Holy Cross with the Huskies trailing 20-7 in the third quarter of play. Pindell could not jumpstart the offense in his Division I debut, despite making a couple of nice plays, leading the coach to bring Shirreffs off the bench.
The fifth-year senior led UConn on three touchdown drives in the second half to overcome the deficit and avoid an unexpected loss in the season opener.
“It felt great. I got to see a lot of people smile and be happy, and any time you win, it’s a great feeling. I’m tired of losing,” Shirreffs said after the game Thursday.
Edsall declined to name the starter going forward after that game, but depth charts released to media at Tuesday’s press conference confirmed that Shirreffs would take the reins back Saturday to make his first start since Oct. 29 last season against East Carolina. After the Huskies were crushed in that game, coach Bob Diaco elected to move forward with Donovan Williams at the position, sending Shirreffs to the bench.
After losing this season’s quarterback competition to Pindell, Shirreffs now finds himself back under center after just one game.
“It doesn’t change my preparation, but it does mean something to me. I’m excited about this week, and really just trying to focus on [getting better] each day,” Shirreffs said Tuesday.
Shirreffs was an inconsistent passer last season in nine starts, but he had his best performance in that regard against USF on Oct. 22, throwing for 306 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. His day on the ground was a different story, as he finished with 20 rushing yards on 15 attempts, but he has had success against the Bulls, the presumptive conference favorite behind dynamo quarterback Quinton Flowers.
Despite that success, the offense has changed this year under offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, leading to a faster pace and the tendency to hurry up to the line of scrimmage between plays. The senior isn’t banking on that same success from last year carrying over.
“It’s a whole coaching staff, so it’s a lot different. Really, I’m just evaluating what their defense is doing now,” Shirreffs said.
UConn and USF will kick off Saturday at 12 p.m. at Rentschler Field in East Hartford