Monday, August 17, 2015

Junior Joseph a hit in middle of UConn defense

The 2014 season was a bit of an eye-opening one for the players learning the Bob Diaco/Anthony Poindexter bend but don't break style of defense. However, few players had more to learn than Junior Joseph.

Joseph gradually saw more time at middle linebacker as the season wore on and his emergence was a bit overshadowed by the buzz created when former starter Jefferson Ashiru left the team.

What can't be overstated, however, is the invaluable experience Joseph gained especially when he started four of the last five games of the season. He led the Huskies with six solo tackles in the season-ending loss to SMU while 16 of his 24 solo tackles came in the final four games of the season.

Joseph was the top tackler in the spring game and he has followed that up by getting off to a strong start at camp. He was especially effective during UConn's scrimmage at Rentschler Field on Wednesday.

There can be little doubt that Joseph is growing into his role.

"Last year was difficult because I never played linebacker before (in college)," Joseph said. "I was playing defensive end so learning a new defense with a new coach was something I had to adapt to. It took a while but I am glad to finally understand the defense, understand a lot more."

Joseph can benefit by the experience around him on the defense as he is flanked by linebackers Graham Stewart and Marquise Vann, playing directly in front of him is Julian Campenni and behind him is safety Andrew Adams. The quartet of seniors have combined to start 69 games over the last two seasons.

"They are seniors and they are leading the defense with me, helping me lead the defense so it helps a lot," Joseph said.

"I think we have one of the best D-lines in the country and when you have a good D line like that with Foley (Fatukasi), Cole Ormsby, Mike Myers, Julian, it makes the linebacker's job so much easier, everything opens up so that is what I am blessed with, a good D line it makes me play a whole lost better.

"We pretty much returned everyone, we played a lot of young guys last year and the fact that everyone is coming back I feel like our defense got stronger because everybody knows the defense a lot more."



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