Notebook: Edsall looking forward to UConn football homecoming
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 23:09
After a 33-18 loss against Towson to open the 2013 season, the UConn football team took a week off and will return to action on Saturday against Maryland at Rentschler Field.
The Terrapins (2-0, 0-0 ACC) are coached by Randy Edsall, who in 12 seasons took UConn from Div. I-AA to a BCS bowl game. The Huskies were 74-70 under Edsall, 65-45 after becoming a full Div. I-A member in 2002.
Edsall was announced as Maryland’s new head coach following UConn’s loss to Oklahoma in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl. Saturday will be his first time coaching at Rentschler Field since departing.
“It’ll be nice to come back,” Edsall said in a teleconference on Tuesday. “I have a lot of fond memories of Rentschler and a lot of exciting games that were played in there. The fans were great, and I know what kind of a tough environment it can be.”
Edsall’s focus is on the game, but he knows that his return is a special occasion, and that there will be a reaction from UConn fans.
“There’ll be boos and probably people that will cheer,” Edsall said. “Anytime you go on the road, nobody likes you. That’s just part of playing the game.”
Huskies respond positively after loss
UConn became the first FBS team to lose to a FCS team in 2013, when Towson pulled off the upset at Rentschler Field.
The loss has caused a lot of uproar in the fanbase, but the team is not paying attention to outside distractions.
“I think the kids, their attitude and their resiliency is really pretty good,” UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said on Tuesday. “I haven’t had to do a whole lot. The kids want to be good. They want to have success.”
Pasqualoni praised his three captains – Steve Greene, Shamar Stephen and Yawin Smallwood – for their role in keeping the team on the right track with a bye week in between the loss to Towson and the game against Maryland.
“They’re a good group,” Pasqualoni said. “They’ve responded well, as you would expect they would.”
Hot Maryland offense takes on UConn defense
Maryland is bringing a high-powered offense to Rentschler on Saturday.
The Terrapins are 10th in the nation in total offense, first in the ACC, averaging 581.5 yards per game against Florida International and Old Dominion. They rank 19th in rushing offense with 281.5 yards per game and 27th in passing offense with 300 yards per game.
Maryland features a dual threat quarterback in C.J. Brown who could give UConn problems if it does not find a way to stop him. In two games, Brown is the Terrapins’ second-leading rusher with 135 yards and has scored four times on the ground. Through the air, Brown is 34-for-45 on pass attempts, throwing for 556 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.
Brown’s favorite target in 2013 has been Stefon Diggs. Diggs has caught 11 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns during the first two games.
Meanwhile, UConn’s defense was far from ordinary in the loss to Towson. The Huskies, after finishing ninth nationally in total defense in 2012, allowed 393 yards of total offense, 201 rushing and 192 passing. Pasqualoni believes that there were “four or five” plays where Towson broke the UConn defense on the ground and gained 20 yards or more. Preventing those big plays is the biggest issue he sees.
“I wouldn’t say [the defense is] passive,” Pasqualoni said. “The ball got out on us because of some containment issues. We try to go back. We try to address those things. You’re always looking to see how you can gain an edge.”
Boyle makes moves on depth chart
Not much has changed on the UConn depth chart since the Towson game. But there was one notable difference in that freshman quarterback Tim Boyle has moved into the two-deep as a co-No. 2 with Casey Cochran.
Boyle has been taking a lot of snaps with the second team as a result, although Pasqualoni says that quarterback Chandler Whitmer is not in jeopardy of losing his starting job.
“Timmy gives us a taller guy,” Pasqualoni said. “Timmy makes us stronger, stronger arm. Casey is doing well. Casey has really had a good preseason. We just felt…that we wanted to give Timmy every opportunity with the ball as quickly as we can.”
Boyle’s height makes the jump to No. 2 interesting, as Pasqualoni noted after the Towson game that Whitmer had trouble seeing over the line when pressured. But there is no rush to get Boyle on the field.
“I don’t want to play younger guys until they’re confident and they feel like they’re ready to have success,” Pasqualoni said.