Boyle didn't get the storybook start, but he's the man at State U.

Interim UConn football coach T.J. Weist stands with the team as they prepare to take the field against South Florida for Saturday's game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. UConn lost 13-10.
Interim UConn football coach T.J. Weist stands with the team as they prepare to take the field against South Florida for Saturday's game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. UConn lost 13-10.

East Hartford

It was all there, more evidence that sports trumps 'em all for romance and myth making. Local boy makes good. The state kid gets his turn at State U, the kid with the looks to be the face of the program and the polish to be its compass.

And so it was high noon Saturday at The Rent, the sun's beam illustrating that God was enjoying the moment, too. What, you needed a billboard? This was Tim Boyle's day. Tim Boyle, the Xavier kid, the symbol of change and hope and wonder. The day UConn's football's present, a barf-o-rama for the first month, would peek into the future and nod confidently, pointing at Tim Boyle, saying, "that's our guy."

And then it was a little before 4 in the afternoon, more clouds than sun now - how fitting - and Boyle walked off the field with the rest of his teammates, lamenting lost opportunity. Change didn't produce the desired result, the UConn Huskies still winless, Tim Boyle the conquering hero now Tim the disappointed freshman.

A day earlier, inside his old school, inside the locker room of Xavier High, high school coach Sean Marinan was unwittingly prescient, admitting to some nervousness.

"There's going to be some rocky times somewhere," Sean Marinan said. "I just hope it's not too bad and too long."

The rocky times of Saturday included some dropped passes, at least two that could have been touchdowns. They included some dropped passes from the South Florida defenders, too, two on the final drive alone, that would have made clock management issues moot. They included 28 incompletions, insufficient pass protection, failure to capitalize on field position. But mostly, the rockiest time of all was the inability to write a happier unwritten script.

"I don't think I did too well," Boyle was saying after the game, calmly and coherently answering all the questions, with cameras and recorders close enough to his airspace to be flagged for face guarding. "I'll go back and watch the film and see what I can do better. I don't think I did too well compared to what my capability is."

Au contraire, says interim coach T.J. Weist.

"I think Tim played an exceptional game for a true freshman. If some of our skill guys make those catches, this is a different game," said Weist, whose postgame candor was as impressive as his quarterback's equanimity.

"I thought Tim showed maturity and poise. He handled the pressure and made some decisions on some of the different looks they gave us that were pretty good for a true freshman. We'll keep moving forward with him, we'll get him better."

Tim Boyle will never forget the 12th of October, 2013. It was the day UConn football changed. Because he's the guy. In every way.

You want the football side? Just look at the big arm, the confidence.

"He came off to the sideline and was stone cold with me," Weist said. "He's a quarterback. He's got that presence."

You want more football? Back to Marinan:

"We heard it from (now Oregon head coach) Mark Helfrich and (N.C. State offensive coordinator) Dana Bible last year," Marinan said. "Coach Helfrich flew out here to look at him and he was impressed. I said, 'I've watched your games and I know what you do. He's not a 4.6 (speed in the 40) guy. I don't think he fits what you do.' He said, 'Oh, he fits. We want more of a quarterback now who can throw the ball. And he can.'"

Boyle is more than that, though. This is central casting. C'mon. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, strong-armed quarterback with the gentlemanly tendencies?

"He's the kind of kid where if he sees you walking down the hall, he'll hold the door for you, even if he doesn't know you all that well," Xavier senior Sal Nesci said Friday.

"Tim has a value system, which is unusual for a teenager," said Brother Thomas Fahey, Boyle's Pastoral Advisor and also Xavier's Director of Admissions. "A very unique young man."

"You didn't have to be an athlete to be a friend of his," Xavier athletic director Tony Jaskot said. "Starting at UConn won't change him."

Soon, all of Connecticut will know Tim Boyle. He'll become The Face. He'll become the state's frame of reference to the football program.

Meantime, Tim Boyle retreats to the film room to get better. Maybe he writes a happier script next time. Or not till next year. But it's a happier time around the program now than at any other time this season. Your guy is here.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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