Christen is ready to start getting his kicks with the Huskies

Storrs - UConn's Chad Christen had a rather unique view when Dave Teggart broke every career place-kicking record last season.

And all Christen had to was look up.

Christen was UConn's holder, and after successfully completing his job first, was proud of the role he played in seeing Teggart leave the program as the all-time leader in field goals (67), extra points (128) and total points (350).

"We had the same kind of pressure on us each and every kick," Christen said Sunday as UConn moved one day closer to its 2012 season-opener against UMass on Thursday at Rentschler Field (7:30 p.m., SNY). "And that really helped us create a great bond."

Teggart is gone, but his advice and encouragement are two things Christen take with him he prepares to replace the two-time All-Big East kicker this fall.

"I literally learned everything from (Teggart)," said Christen, a redshirt junior who has never attempted an extra point or field goal for the Huskies but has handled the kickoff duties the past two seasons. "Picking his brain has helped me so much with my confidence."

He also earned the confidence of coach Paul Pasqualoni after winning a spirited training camp battle with Bobby Puyol, a highly-regarded true freshman from North Palm Beach, Fla.

"(Christen) had a good camp," Pasqualoni said. "We try to create a real competitive environment with scrimmages and two-minute drills. Over the course of those situational practices, as I call them, we needed a field goal. One day we needed a long field goal to tie the game, he did it, and another day we needed a long field goal to win the game, he did it.

"Now he's got to do it in a game."

For the record, Christen said one of those field goals was from 57 yards and the other from 54.

"We had over 170-something live field goal reps during the preseason," he said. "I can out of there and was around 85 percent. Every kick he did we simulated a game situation. We had two-minute drills for a field goal - the kick right before the half or the kick to win the game - and those are probably your two biggest kicks of the game.

"I think I went out there, felt calm and collected, and proved to the coaches that I'm the guy that can make those kicks for the team and win those games this season."

It's a moment he's prepared for since arriving at UConn in 2009.

"We always joke around about making long kicks," Christen said. "But the reality is most of your kicks are going to come between 20 and 40 yards, so I think those kicks are the most important ones and I've proved to the coaches that I can make them."

"One thing I learned was you've always got to be ready. I always knew that (Teggart) was the starting kicker, but the biggest thing was I pushed him each and every day. We were very competitive with each other, even in the weight room. ... It helped him out and it helped me out even more."

News and notes

The Huskies are pretty healthy. Only starting defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee) will miss the UMass game. He will be replaced by Julian Campenni, a redshirt freshman from West Pittson, Pa. ... UConn and UMass, former Yankee Conference and Atlantic 10 rivals, have not played since 1999 when the Minutemen routed the Huskies 62-20. ... UMass, under first-year coach Charley Molnar, is playing its first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) and as a member of the Mid-American Conference. ... The game is not sold out. Tickets can be purchased at the UConn ticket office or by visiting uconnhuskies.com.

c.banning@theday.com

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