Hidden among the Randy Edsall-Connecticut story line this weekend will be flipside familiarity. Yes, Edsall will be on the opposite sideline as the players he once recruited to be Huskies before he left for Maryland. Yes, the questions have been asked and the plot has been played out all week.
But don’t forget about Don Brown. The former Maryland defensive coordinator is now at Connecticut, and is running one of the nation’s top defenses.
Edsall called it disruptive. U-Conn. defensive end Trevardo Williams called it relentless. Terps offensive coordinator Mike Locksley says it’s a headache. The Huskies are ranked third nationally in scoring and total defense, and first in rushing defense.
“They’re playing very well on defense,” Edsall said. “They create a lot of disruption. You just have to be very sound, very fundamental in terms of what you want to get done, and have your players go out and execute. We’re going to put a plan together that will give us the best opportunity to be successful against that defense.”
Williams is at the center of that success. A former state 100-meter champion in Connecticut, Williams drew comparisons to Indianapolis Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney, who attended Bloomfield High School in Connecticut, an hour north of Williams’s Bridgeport Central. Through two games, Williams has 4.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks.
Brown’s defensive unit has seven seniors, five of whom are fifth-year players. Both cornerbacks are fifth-year seniors and can come off the edge for blitzes. The linebackers get brought, too, as the Huskies frequently outnumber the box. It’s all part of Brown’s disguises that baffle opposing quarterbacks.
The onus will be on Terps quarterback Perry Hills to keep composed in the pocket against what figures to be his toughest test yet, especially since top run-stopper Shamar Steven, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound behemoth, is back from a knee injury to clog the middle.
“They’re going to be a tough, physical team, from beginning to the end of the game,” Maryland wide receiver Kevin Dorsey said. “Knowing Coach Brown and his philosophy, the way he likes to put pressure on the quarterback, he’s going to try to get to him early. I know they’re going to come physical every single play.”
And while many Huskies played for Edsall and may be able to shed insight onto his coaching tendencies, the reverse applies for defensive coordinator Brian Stewart’s unit. Locksley has consulted Joe Vellano and Kenny Tate, among others, about Brown’s schemes.
“You can watch the tape and what you see is pretty consistent with what we’ve heard when you do your research on it,” Locksley said Wednesday. “We did a preliminary game plan in the summer so we’ve had some time to evaluate it. As we get into it this week after we’ve seen the two games they’ve played really well.”