STORRS -- According to the coach, one has leadership moxie and guts. The other has an accurate arm and "sees" the game. The other has the whole physical package. He can run, he can pass, but he's inexperienced.
So, which one got the UConn starting quarterback job?
The man with the moxie: redshirt sophomore Casey Cochran, a former Masuk star.
"Casey Cochran will be the starter for the 2104 season," Diaco said in a news conference with all four quarterbacks -- North Carolina State transfer Bryant Shirreffs is sitting out this season -- Monday night in the Burton Family Football Complex. "I collected as much information as possible. I reviewed a lot of the statistical information that we brought together. I read notes to try and analyze the intangible components. I tried to gauge the pulse of the team. I talked to all the coaches and I made the decision."
Starting the last four games of the 2013 season, Cochran completed 111 of 175 passes with four interceptions and 11 touchdowns for 1,293 yards. More importantly, he drove the Huskies to all of their three wins, over Temple, Rutgers and Memphis. It was that "intangible" that won him the job for 2014.
"He's always been a Level 1 leader since I've known him," Diaco said. "It's in his DNA. I suspect if I had met him when he was 12, he wouldn't have looked much different. Son of a coach and a winner on the field at every level."
Chandler Whitmer started the initial four games last season and, as the team did, struggled with his consistency. He completed 71 of 129 passes for 896 yards with six interceptions. He didn't play in the final eight games and contemplated leaving the team but returned after speaking with Diaco.
"For me, I was just happy with whatever I could get," Whitmer said. "I wanted to come back and set the record straight and not leave UConn the way it was and the way things ended last year."
So Whitmer returned, changed his attitude, and matured and will now work with Cochran to try and make the Huskies a winning program once again.
"It's like a `Rocky' story," Diaco said. "(Chandler's) turned himself into a leader. He was basically out the door and to come back and set the record straight about who he was as a person ¦ unbelievable. All he wants to do is help UConn win."
For the past two-plus weeks, Diaco gave all three players who started at that position last season ample opportunity to win the job as UConn prepares for its 2014 season opener against BYU on Aug. 29 at Rentschler Field. But with Tim Boyle limited in the fall by nagging injuries and looking to be "protected" by Diaco (meaning redshirt), Cochran and Whitmer each got around "280 passes" in various situations against the defense in full-speed action against the defense and both were almost equal in their success.
"It was awesome," Whitmer said of the competition. "It was very negligible of how close it was. It actually was decided by the play on the field and not won on a low performance level either, it was a high performance. We were both very competitive but also cooperative as well. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it."
So did Cochran.
"As hard as the competition was, we were always helping each other," he said. "We've always done that. We've been together for almost three years. I remember one of the first nights we were here, we were watching film together and it's kind of been that way ever since. It's awesome to have Chandler and Bryant and Tim with us. It's very co-operative."
According to Diaco, Cochran improved his physical traits to almost match Whitmer, who worked hard to try and improve his leadership abilities.
"We can play winning football with either one," Diaco said.
Another potential key for Cochran was getting back into quarterback shape.
"He's probably lost 30 pounds," Diaco said. "I think he weighs 217 right now. When we started he was like, between 243, 247 ¦ now he in the teens. He dropped his body fat probably 15 percent, 20 percent."
"It's unbelievable," said Cochran, who is listed on the roster as 6-foot1. "With (strength) coach (Matt) Balis coming in, I worked on my own, but I have a different life now, a different lifestyle."