Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass football notebook: Blake Lucas named starting placekicker, Lindsay and Edmonds to miss opener against Colorado

(Madeline Parsons/ Daily Collegian)
(Madeline Parsons/ Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts football team released its first official two-deep depth chart Monday afternoon following practice as its season opener against Colorado Saturday draws closer. With this announcement, UMass answered one of its biggest questions left unresolved from last week’s end of training camp.

Minutemen coach Mark Whipple said Monday that senior Blake Lucas will serve as UMass’ starting placekicker to open the season. Lucas was entrenched in a three-week competition with freshman Mike Caggiano for the starting job.

While both kickers earned equal reps throughout camp and each impressed, according to Whipple, he said Lucas has been performing at the highest level of his four-year career.

“He’s kicked the ball well, you have to coach what you see,” Whipple said after practice. “He’s been better than he’s ever been… He’s been consistent and good on kickoffs.”

Lucas began last season as the starting placekicker but struggled early and finished 2-for-4 in field goal attempts before splitting time with Matthew Wylie and Logan Laurent on point-after-attempts and field goals.

Because of his struggles, Caggiano, of Englishtown, New Jersey, has earned meaningful reps, as both kickers’ attempts in practice were thoroughly tracked and analyzed by Whipple and special teams coach Mark Michaels before the final decision.

Lucas said last Thursday that he believes the competition in camp has helped him focus more on each rep, attributing to greater consistency in his kicks.

“Having somebody behind you pushing you like that, it really makes you focus on each kick,” Lucas said after last Thursday’s practice. “When I first came in as a freshman we had seven kickers on the roster. So you didn’t have a choice to miss, you had to make every rep count. This is the first time it’s felt like that since I’ve been here, so it definitely helps out a lot.”

Although Laurent, the Minutemen’s starting punter, was listed as the No. 2 option behind Lucas on the Minutemen’s depth chart, UMass is expected to have Caggiano travel with the team on road trips and step in as placekicker if necessary.

Lindsay, Edmonds to sit out trip to Boulder

After Monday’s practice, Whipple said freshman running back Sekai Lindsay and sophomore linebacker/safety Zeke Edmonds will not travel with the team to Boulder, Colorado, for UMass’ season opener on Saturday.

Lindsay and Edmonds both possess sickle cell trait, a hereditary blood disorder that may cause dehydration, fatigue and other serious health complications when in extreme conditions such as high altitude.

Individuals with sickle cell trait are considered to be at a health risk at an altitude of over 4,000-5,000 feet. Boulder stands at an elevation of approximately 5,430 feet.

Whipple said everyone on the team was tested for the condition.

“We test them (all) when they come in,” Whipple said. “We aren’t going to put them in harm’s way.”

Lindsay and Edmonds are both expected to see significant snaps for the Minutemen this season beyond Saturday’s opener. As early as last Thursday, before the players’ test results were known, Whipple said he expected Lindsay to see action against the Buffs.

Defensive depth

 While the majority of UMass’ depth chart was already known,  aside from the decision regarding placekicker, Monday’s official announcement presented a couple of surprises regarding some defensive positions.

The Minutemen have often utilized a nickel package in practice, using a hybrid linebacker/defensive back instead of a normal 3-4 setup. As a result, senior Joe Colton is listed as a starting outside linebacker with Edmonds slated as the No. 2 option.

Although both have played safety in the past, UMass’ depth in the secondary – with seniors Randall Jette, Kelton Brackett, Trey Dudley-Giles and Khary Bailey-Smith – allows Colton and Edmonds to use their versatility to play closer to the line.

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.

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