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Huskies Future Rooted in Spring Practice

March 5, 2018

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In order to evaluate progress there needs to be a point where the past unveils an answer. Back in 1999, the UConn football team entered spring camp wondering if they would need to shovel the field hockey turf in order to practice that day. That was the reality for first year head coach Randy Edsall when he first took the job in Storrs.

"Back in 1999 we had to worry about where and when we would be able to practice," said Edsall. "You are thankful for Lew Perkins, the Burton Family and the Shenkman family for all they did to provide us with this beautiful facility that allows us ideal conditions to practice. To be able to know that you will have those 15 spring practices in ideal conditions, you would not want it any other way. There are no excuses for our guys to not go out and get better."

Their history shows how far the program has come since Edsall took over the program. For a team that finished 3-9 in 2017, the next five weeks will provide a blueprint for the future of the program. It is an excellent opportunity for the team to continue to get bigger, faster and strong while also continuing to perfect the fundamentals and techniques that will make the team successful come the fall.

"Overall we just need to get better at the fundamentals of what we need to do to execute our schemes," said Edsall. "I want everyone to have a better understanding of what we are doing offensively, defensively and on special teams and if we are able to do that then we will have a successful spring."

You don't have to look back too far to see the growth the team has attained since Edsall returned to UConn last January.

"I think we have made big strides," said Edsall. "The attitude is totally different from this time last year. Guys are working hard. I see a big difference with better movement, guys in better shape and stronger this time around."

Last year during spring practice the coaches consistently reminded players to give maximum effort, to run from drill to drill and to play the UConn way.

"The kids know the standards and how we are going to operate," said Edsall. "They now know the level of excellence that we are looking for and the level of performance that we want from them on a daily basis in order to be successful.

With a very young team expected for the upcoming 2018 season the Huskies will rely on players that redshirted in 2017, mid-year enrollees and a few new coaches on the staff.

"Now is [redshirted players] their opportunity to show a little bit more of what they can do," said Edsall. "I am pleased because each of them have done things to make themselves bigger, faster, stronger and molding their bodies into better shape."

The Huskies will have to get contributions from the likes of James Tunstall, Stanley Hubbard, Jay Rose, Zavier Scott on the offensive side of the ball and TJ Gardner, Robert King, Caleb Thomas and Malik Banks on defense.

"We only have seven scholarship seniors and 73 % of our roster are underclassmen, "said Edsall. There is going to be good competition and the big thing is to get them as many reps as we can so they can learn how to play the game and understand the fundamentals, technique and assignments."

During the offseason the coaching staff has received three new additions with offensive coordinator John Dunn, offensive line coach Frank Giufre and special teams coordinator Eddie Allen joining the Huskies.

"These guys really mesh well with the other coaches on the staff," said Edsall. It is a very cohesive group and it will be a smooth transition for those guys with our coaches and players. I have been around John for five years; I know what John brings to the table.

"Kids are going to like him and like the system, he runs. Frank is just a true professional; he understands line play and techniques that go with it. Just like John, they know how to build relationships and to get most out of young people. Eddy is just very impressive when I sat down and interviewed him. I really like his approach to special teams and being aggressive"

Though the 2018 season campaign is more than six month away these upcoming weeks will be critical for future success on the gridiron. As time passes these will be the moments viewed as the essential building blocks that brought a winning culture back to UConn football.