For his first game as Eastern Kentucky’s starting quarterback, Tim Boyle had his parents and oldest sister in the crowd last Saturday in Bowling Green.
The Colonels fell to Western Kentucky, 31-17, in the season opener, but Boyle’s family watched him become the first EKU player in school history to throw for more than 300 yards in his debut with the team.
“It’s nice. My whole entire family has been so supportive of me through the years,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder how they do it, because of all the ups and the downs that I’ve been through. After the Western game, they were just so proud of me. Just to see that my hard work has paid off.”
The family road trips to see him play take a bit longer these days.
Boyle — a 6-foot-4, 233-pound senior from Middlefield, Conn. — was a nationally ranked recruit and three-time state champion at Xavier High School before signing with UConn in 2013.
The top high school quarterback in the state, Boyle had already taken over the Huskies’ starting QB job by week 5 of his freshman season. The rest of his time at UConn didn’t quite go according to plan.
Boyle was hit with injuries during his sophomore season, and his playing time dropped off a little from the previous fall. He slid down the depth chart his junior year and played even less. Meanwhile, coaching changes within the program meant that Boyle played in three different offenses over those three seasons.
By the end of the 2015 campaign, he was ready for something else.
“I wasn’t happy,” he said. “I wasn’t thrilled about college football anymore. I was kind of hanging by a thread. I wanted to get a change of pace, and that’s when I decided to transfer.”
Within about two weeks of the Huskies’ loss to Marshall in the St. Petersburg Bowl to end the 2015 season, Boyle had enrolled in classes at Eastern Kentucky.
NCAA transfer rules meant that he would be unable to play for the Colonels right away, so he was forced to watch from the sidelines last season as EKU lacked continuity at the quarterback position. The Colonels started four different QBs throughout the season, due to injuries and other issues.
EKU ultimately finished 3-8 in its first season under new head coach Mark Elder.
The Colonels are hoping that Boyle will bring stability to the position this season, and he certainly got off to a good start Saturday against the Hilltoppers.
Boyle, playing in his first game since Nov. 28, 2015, completed 29 of 46 passes for 320 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t throw an interception, and he wasn’t sacked.
Elder was pleased with the performance.
“He managed the game really well, but yet put up good numbers,” he said. “Sometimes, quarterbacks hate hearing the words, ‘Hey, we want you to manage the game.’ Manage the game doesn’t mean that you’re going to go 9-for-12 for 120 yards. It means that you have to take what’s given. And he took what was given. Sometimes he checked the ball down and got 5 yards. One time, he checked the ball down for minus-2. I’m good with that. Why? Because that was the right throw.
“We can talk about being a great manager of the football game, and that can still mean you can put up 300-plus yards passing. So I was pleased with that. Pleased with the fact that he looked like a veteran, because he is.”
Boyle had been waiting for Saturday’s opportunity for nearly two years, and his experience against high-level competition at UConn meant he wasn’t going to go into this season with any jitters.
“I was getting to the point where I would go to bed and I would have dreams of playing versus UK or Western,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and do it. I’d had enough talking about it.”
Elder has spent the past couple of days watching film of the Cats’ victory over Southern Miss, and he praised UK’s “big-time defense” during Tuesday’s news conference. Boyle told the Herald-Leader that he’s also been watching tape, then praised each of the Cats’ defensive position groups.
“We need to bring our ‘A’ game on Saturday,” he concluded.
Just like last week, Boyle’s parents are making the trip from Connecticut to Kentucky to see their son play. In fact, they’re planning to attend all but one of EKU’s games this season, Boyle’s last as a college football player.
“They’re flying every weekend to come down here,” he said with a smile. “God bless ’em.”
Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky
Noon (SEC Network)