Notebook: UConn Starting to Pull Together

University of Connecticut kicker Tony Ciaravino lined up from 52 yards at the end of spring practice Thursday and watched as his kick sailed off wide left. A collective moan erupted among teammates. A good kick meant no sprints, but with Ciaravino's miss there would be no easy ending to the final practice of the Huskies spring.

Then Darius Butler shouted to Coach Randy Edsall, "double or nothing."


The team moaned, but Edsall quickly took Butler up on the offer.


Ciaravino lined up for the same kick and nailed it through the uprights. The team rushed the junior kicker and started to chant and celebrate like it was a game-winning kick.


When Edsall got the team together for a quick talk at the end of practice he had a simple message for them.


"You gotta believe in each other," Edsall said. "It was a great teaching point for me. You got to relish the opportunities you get and have a belief and trust in each other that they will do it."


When spring practice started leadership was what Edsall was looking for first and foremost. The graduation of team leaders and longtime mainstays in Terry Caulley and Rhema Fuller left a large void in the locker room. The Huskies are a young team to begin with anyway. Of all the players listed on the two-deep for spring practice, only nine seniors crack the list. That isn't exactly a veteran team.


Edsall has slowly watched for certain players to step into a leadership role in addition to improving their on the field production. Edsall is satisfied with the progress in this area.


The Huskies elected captains for the football team on Thursday, though the results won't be announced to the team until Friday. Edsall has seen players emerge and has his own thoughts on the way it will go.


"I have seen (leadership) become better," Edsall said. "There are more guys stepping up to be leaders"


Spring practice is about getting better and finding an identity. The Huskies have made progress on both accounts and they are starting to round into form.


"There are guys who are holding themselves accountable to doing the right thing," Edsall said. "You have to care of yourself first before you can lead someone else."



D-Line Coming Along


The Huskies are going to have two new starters at defensive tackle and by the looks of things this spring Edsall will have many more options and depth on the defensive line.


Dan Davis has sat out the spring recovering from a knee injury, but that has turned into a blessing with young players moving in to take over the reps.  The most impressive player on the line this spring has been junior tackle Rob Lunn, who has been a backup the last two years to Fuller and Ray Blagman.


"Lunn has been very consistent this spring," Edsall said. "He is good at getting off and has stayed injury free."


During open practices, Lunn has routinely been in the backfield wrecking havoc for the quarterback and around the ball.


"I have had a good spring, but a lot of guys have progressed," Lunn said. "I would like to think (I have solidified a starting spot), but we have a lot of competition out here. Even if I am a starter, we will have depth on the defensive line."


Lunn likes what he sees in the makeup of some of the young guys. Freshmen Alex Polito and Mike Cox, a converted linebacker, have made tremendous strides this spring with Davis out and defensive end Cody Brown practicing on only Saturday's to concentrate on school work.


"From day 1 to day 15, Alex Polito has come so far, I can't describe it," Lunn said. "And Lindsey Witten has come on strong. But I think Mike Cox is unsung. He has a non-stop motor. He is 50 yards down trying to make a play. He is a workhorse."





The Huskies will break camp after Saturday but will still have a couple of more weeks of monitored strength training and conditioning. Many of the players will stay on campus and take summer courses and continue to workout. The Huskies will reconvene as a team on Aug. 5th for a team meeting. Summer camp begins Aug. 6th

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