Of course this came up. It will come up all week.
Randy Edsall vs. the University of Connecticut, coaching against the players he recruited before departing the program for College Park. The questions will be asked. The speculation will swirl. And both sides likely will be guarded. So far, unsurprisingly, they’ve offered little as they enter preparation mode early in the week.
Edsall followed that path during his Sunday teleconference, telling reporters he hadn’t even begun to think about Maryland’s impending matchup against the Huskies at Byrd Stadium.
During the weekly Big East teleconference, Connecticut Coach Paul Pasqualoni also went the safe route when asked if competing against an Edsall-coached squad will be on the Huskies’s minds.
“We try here to just focus on the game,” Pasqualoni said. “We talk a lot about not being distracted. I haven’t really brought it up. I think the kids all know, obviously they’re going to Maryland and Coach Edsall is there now. I think kids will tell you, we’ve got all we can do to concentrate and get ready to play.”
Edsall guided U-Conn. for 12 seasons that included two Big East titles and five bowl games, but was hired at Maryland just hours after the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.
“Coach Edsall’s not playing in this game, and there aren’t any coaches on the field,” said Pasqualoni, nothing that former Terps defensive coordinator Don Brown now holds the same position at U-Conn. after leaving Maryland early in 2011. “From our standpoint, we’re just going to get ready to play the game and not be distracted by anything else.”
U-Conn. lost to N.C. State 10-7 last weekend, a physical, defensive battle during which the Huskies had 15 possessions but only strung together a drive of more than 40 yards once. That came midway through the fourth quarter, when Lyle McCombs plunged in from five yards for U-Conn.’s only score of the afternoon. Chandler Whitmer threw for 204 yards but had three interceptions.
“Saturday against NC state was probably one of the most frustrating games I’ve been in,” Pasqualoni said. “We had 15 possessions, an unbelievably high number, and we managed to self-destruct on 14 of the 15.
“It was a very frustrating game, but the thing I admire about the kids is how hard they’re fighting. They fought down to the last play of the game to try to win it. I think everybody is with it, they’re engaged in it, the kids are taking ownership in it. We’ve watched the film, hopefully we make the corrections and move on. Next week’s another week, and hopefully we execute better.”
According to a Middletown Press story, the inquiries about facing Edsall came almost immediately after the final buzzer sounded. A sampling of the reactions, courtesy of Middletown Press writer Jim Fuller:
“It is not going to be hard to get fired up for that one, definitely. That is about it; that is all I am going to say about that.” — defensive tackle Ryan Wirth
“It is definitely a big game. He is the coach there; he did a great job here. The way he left, I feel like some people didn’t like that, but I think it is going to be a great matchup for us. Maryland vs. U-Conn., and we are very excited for it.” — safety Ty-Meer Brown
“Honestly, it is another game. It is the next game in the season, and that’s it. I am excited to see my family after the game. It is just one more game, we have to pick it up and play football.” — offensive tackle Jimmy Bennett.
As far as the actual on-field opponent, Pasqualoni had high praise for Terps freshman quarterback Perry Hills, saying he has been “playing extremely well” after three total touchdowns in Maryland’s 36-27 win over Temple.
“They have some young players that are really stepping up for them,” Pasqualoni said. “So they’ve got momentum going, two wins under their belt, so this will be a very tough game for us to go down there and play down there.”