Who: Maryland (2-0) vs. Connecticut (1-1).
When: Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
Where: Byrd Stadium.
TV: WTTG-5, WJZ-13.
Online TV: ESPN3.
DMV radio: WTEM (980 AM), WJZ (105.7 FM).
Satellite radio: XM Channel 191, Sirius Channel 132.
Coaches: Terps – Randy Edsall (Second season, 4-10). Huskies – Paul Pasqualoni (Second season, 6-8)
Series: Maryland leads, 1-0. Only meeting was in 1942, a 34-0 Terps win.
Which one would you like, the media script or the on-field script? Even the most inattentive observer can figure out the former. Edsall vs. Connecticut, the coach a Hartford Courant column dubbed “The Deserter” against the team from which he did said deserting. Edsall left the Huskies after 12 seasons, five bowl games and two Big East titles, and promptly went 2-10 at Maryland last season. Now, the Terrapins are one win away from starting a season 3-0 for the first time since 2001, when they won the ACC Championship. Few would consider a conference title to be a realistic possibility for this group, but a win would give Maryland a tangible victory in future comparisons with the program from which Edsall departed. Expect much to be made about this matchup, but little to amount. Pleasantries will be exchanged, as might the occasional handshake. But the Terrapins have 3-0 on their minds, not protecting Edsall from the mean things people are saying.
1. Will revenge be a factor? As alluded to throughout the week, the Huskies, especially those Edsall recruited to Storrs, Conn., to play for him, will likely be giddy to face an Edsall-directed team. So let’s assume revenge is on their minds. Now it can play out one of two ways: Either the Huskies are fueled by the desire for payback and channel it into on-field success, or the allow that to become a distraction. Obviously, Connecticut won’t be solely motivated by seeing Edsall on the opposite sideline. Merely moving above .500 and avenging last weekend’s 10-7 sluggish loss to North Carolina State should be enough. But if indeed this script plays out like everyone assumes it will, what effect will it have?
2.Which defense will crack first? The forecast calls for a low-scoring affair with the potential for turnovers. Both teams rank in the top 10 nationally in defense. Connecticut, whose defense is led by former Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown, boasts a deceptive blitzing attack that disrupts opposing offenses with its disguises. Maryland’s secondary needs some work and should be bolstered with the return of Matt Robinson and Isacc Goins, but the front seven in defensive coordinator Brian Stewart’s new 3-4 scheme has been top-notch. Temple never got anything going on the ground in Philadelphia last weekend. Likewise, the Huskies limited the Wolfpack and quarterback Mike Glennon to just 10 points and get defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, the team’s top run-stopper, back from a knee injury. This contest could very well be decided by one defensive lapse that leads to a big play.
3.Offense? Any offense? Connecticut redshirt sophomore Chandler Whitmer, in his first season since transferring from Butler Community College, has thrown five interceptions against zero touchdowns this season, but is still averaging more than 200 passing yards per game. Maryland’s Perry Hills, despite four turnovers through his first two collegiate starts, was named the ACC rookie of the week thanks to his three-touchdown performance against Temple. The defenses might prevent any offense from bubbling over Saturday, but if one big play could decide this game, from where will it come? Stefon Diggs has the home run capability on special teams, if the Huskies ever kick to him. U-Conn. running back Lyle McCombs has 142 rushing yards and two touchdowns through two games, but hasn’t broken off a run longer than 15 yards.
277: Career tackles for Maryland senior linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, most among active players in the ACC.
7: Starting seniors on U-Conn.’s defense.
“Trevardo Williams is as good a defender as you’re going to see now. He’s fast, the state 100-meter champ in Connecticut. When you look at him, he reminds you a lot of Dwight Freeney” – Edsall on the U-Conn. defensive end.
“Tremendous scheme. I think Brian Stewart has added a tremendous scheme to the Maryland staff. That is an NFL-tested, prime, solid NFL scheme” – Connecticut offensive coordinator George DeLeone on Maryland’s defense.
The Song(s) of Saturday