Looking Ahead: Connecticut vs Maryland

A preview of the weekend's matchup between the Connecticut Huskies and the Maryland Terrapins.

This weekend's matchup between the Maryland Terrapins and the Connecticut Huskies will be only the second time the two schools have met, but this meeting will have a lot of meaning for Maryland head coach Randy Edsall.

Edsall was a coach at Connecticut from 1999 to 2010, winning the 2010 Big East Coach of the Year and leading the Huskies to become the first program ever to become a BCS Bowl participant in just seven years after becoming an FBS program. He left UConn as the school's all-time leader in career wins with 74 and games coached with 144.

“Connecticut, the state of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut, is a really special place for me and my family from the standpoint that my daughter graduated from UConn and my son got all of his schooling in the state of Connecticut,” Edsall said. “I was fortunate that [former UConn athletic director] Lew Perkins and Phil Austin who was the president, gave me the opportunity to be a head coach. I'll always be indebted to the people from the state of Connecticut and the people of the University and most especially Lew and Phil for the opportunity that they gave me.”

Edsall said that despite his connection to the Huskies, he is not treating the game unlike any other team that the Terps will play this season.

"This week is really no different to me than any other week,” Edsall said. “It's just game three on our schedule. I haven't done anything different up until this point and I'm not going to do anything different from here on in. There are some people that I'd like to see after the game to say hello to and wish them well, but I am going to continue to focus on my players, the University of Maryland players all week."

This game will be only the second time the Terps and Huskies have met on the gridiron. They last met in 1942 with the Terps shutting the Huskies out in a 34-0 win. The unfamiliarity between the two teams makes it harder for Maryland players to better prepare for them.

“We haven't played UConn since I've been here,” senior defensive end A.J. Francis said. “The biggest thing is you play Clemson every year, you play N.C. State every year, you play Florida State every year, you know what to expect from those guys. When you play a team like UConn for the first time, you don't know what to expect. You don't know how they play. You don't know how they block. The only thing you can take is on film. It's really big to come out and hopefully get this victory and go 3-0."

The Terps saw great improvements in their 36-27 win against Temple with freshman quarterback Perry Hills running the offense much more effectively, earning him ACC Rookie of the Week honors. The defense continued to stop the run and has been holding opponents to 1.95 yards per rush so far this season which ranks 10th in the nation. The defense has also been effective in getting to the quarterback with seven sacks (13th in the FBS) and 17 tackles for loss (tied for 20th). The 229.5 yards allowed per game has the Terps' defense ranked ninth in the nation.

Maryland's defense will also see some familiar faces return in safety Matt Robinson and cornerback Isaac Goins. Both were injured during training camp and missed the first two games against William & Mary and Temple. Their return will help strengthen a secondary that was lacking in depth even before the injuries.

"It'll be great to have those two guys back out there,” Edsall said. “As I've said, experience is a great teacher. Having Matt out there and the experience that he has is only going to benefit us. Issac came here in the spring but he has some experience under his belt as well. He's going to aid us in our defense and benefit us."

The Terps' offense will face a challenge against UConn's defense. The Huskies defense held the N.C. State Wolfpack to 10 points in a 10-7 loss last week. UConn, like Maryland, has a defense filled with veteran players who can get to the quarterback. Maryland's offensive line will need to step up and protect Hills from being pressured into making bad decisions.

"They're playing really well on defense, but again what I think you have to do is be very sound and fundamental in terms of what you have to get done,” Edsall said. “Your players have to go out and execute. We are going to just put a plan together that we think will make us most successful against that defense."

The Maryland Terrapins and the Connecticut Huskies will kick off at Byrd Stadium in College Park at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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