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September 3, 2009

Frazer embracing starting role

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STORRS, Conn. - Zach Frazer will wake up in a hotel in Athens, Ohio on Saturday morning and once again experience a feeling he's waited over three years to have - the swagger that comes with being the starting quarterback.

With the partial exception of his starts against North Carolina and Rutgers in 2008, which he began as a replacement for the injured Tyler Lorenzen, Frazer, a redshirt junior at UConn, hasn't been the top guy since his senior year at Mechanicsburg (Pa.).

"I think he's completely ready to go out and run the show and run the offense and be a leader," head coach Randy Edsall said.

The 6-foot-4, 228-pound Frazer's travels are well-documented, and are sure to be rehashed in depth as Nov. 21, the date of the Huskies' game at Notre Dame, approaches. Frazer, who left the school in pursuit of a better opportunity, has found it after a whole season and parts of another on the bench.

With Lorenzen graduating after last season, the starting role was Frazer's to lose. He carried himself with the confidence of a first-team quarterback throughout the spring, though his proclivity to overthrow the football and his awkward delivery led the coaches to consider giving the role to redshirt sophomore Cody Endres.

It wasn't long after the spring game, one in which Frazer completed 13 of 22 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown, that Edsall decided to anoint him as the starter. There were no questions who was in control during fall camp even as the quarterbacks behind Frazer jostled for position, and the dedication he showed by dropping 10 pounds over the summer in order to be better conditioned for the new no-huddle offense spoke quite a bit about his commitment.

It couldn't have always been this way. A concussion sidelined him during fall camp a year ago, and he suffered another as the result of a hit in the fourth quarter of UConn's loss to Rutgers last October.

Plus, while a three-interception performance against North Carolina could have been chalked up to nerves, unfamiliarity and a good defense, finishing 0-for-4 with three interceptions against Pittsburgh at the end of the regular season could have been more painful.

Instead, the arrival of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead was just what Frazer needed to ensure his place on the field. With an additional emphasis to be placed on the passing game, Moorhead needed a strong-armed quarterback capable bring the offense in balance.

Recognizing the fit, Frazer spent extra time preparing for this season. Teammates noticed his commitment when he'd enter the weight room in mid-morning, then return later in the afternoon to work out on the field. He's also spend extra time in the meeting rooms reviewing tapes of what went wrong last year and what he will face this year.

"I mean, with the no-huddle, everything's going to be a faster tempo, so I think running that type of offense, you need to be on your game," Frazer said. "You need to know everything, you need to think quicker, go through your reads quicker and everything like that."

The results wouldn't be publicly evident until late Saturday night, though privately, Edsall and the coaches are pleased.

"Zach just needs to take what the defense gives him, and if he performs in that light, I think he'll be successful, and we'll be successful as an offensive football team," Edsall said.


Zac Boyer, the editor and publisher of UConnReport.com, covers UConn sports on the Rivals network. He can be reached by e-mail at zacboyer@rivals.com.
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