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Terps seek first 3-0 start since 2001 in Randy Edsall's return to Connecticut

Huskies face different challenge as they look to bounce back following season-opening loss to Towson

By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

2:50 PM EDT, September 13, 2013

COLLEGE PARK

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When Randy Edsall was coaching Connecticut, he had the opportunity to schedule two games with Maryland. The school wasn't far from where he grew up in Glen Rock. Pa., and he believed playing the Terps could help the Huskies recruit in the talent-rich Baltimore-Washington, D.C., region.

Edsall had no idea that, years later, he would be leading Maryland rather than Connecticut when the games were played.

On Saturday, the Terps and Huskies will play the second and final game of the series. It's a matchup that carries plenty of emotional weight for Edsall — he coached Connecticut for 12 seasons — but is also significant for his successor, Paul Pasqualoni.

Pasqualoni's record is 10-15 since taking over for Edsall before the 2011 season, and Connecticut's 33-18 loss to Towson — a Football Championship Subdivision school — in the season opener did not help his standing with Huskies fans.

Towson junior running back Terrance West had 156 yards and two touchdowns in the game. It was Towson's first win in eight games against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent.

Connecticut hosts No. 11 Michigan in its third game on Sept. 21. With a loss to the Terps on Saturday, the Huskies could be facing an 0-3 start, which would generate more media speculation — it has already started — about Pasqualoni's job security.

After playing Towson on Aug. 29, Connecticut has had to wait 16 days for its next game — an opportunity to turn the page on the season-opening loss.

"It's the old adage that the good Lord put your eyes in the front of your head and not in the back, so you can see where you're going and not where you've been," Pasqualoni said this week. "We've approached it that way. We spent a lot of time last week making those corrections, especially in the support and contain of those runs that got out on us."

Maryland's situation is entirely different than Connecticut's — a chance to start 3-0 for the first time since 2001, when the Terps began the season with seven straight wins and won the ACC championship.

The opportunity will come in a stadium, Rentschler Field, with which Edsall could hardly be more familiar. Edsall helped make the case for building the stadium, which was constructed on an old airfield. The facility is celebrating its 10th anniversary this season.

Connecticut was the first school to hire Edsall as a head coach in 1998, when he was 40 years old.

"I was just always grateful that [then-Connecticut athletic director] Lew Perkins and [president] Phil Austin took a chance on a guy who was only a coordinator for one year and had never been a head coach," Edsall said.

Years ago, Edsall thought scheduling Maryland made sense for a number of reasons.

"I wanted to do it for recruiting purposes, and then just also in terms of our nonconference scheduling," Edsall said. "I always tried to look at making my suggestions to the athletic director about where I thought we could schedule games that would help us from a recruiting standpoint, but would also make sense in terms of it possibly being a TV game if it's on the road, too. When I was there at Connecticut, we had quite a few kids from the Maryland-D.C. area. And so it gave us a chance to get those kids back and play a game at home."

Last season, Edsall tried to treat the game against Connecticut, a 24-21 loss for the Terps, as just another game. Like most football coaches, he loathes game-week distractions.

"This week is no different than any other week to me," he said before the 2012 game. "This is Game 3 on our schedule."

But after the game was over, his voice was thick with emotion and his eyes appeared to tear up.

"You go through good times and bad times, and football is an emotional game," said Tim Willman (Reservoir), a starting defensive end for Connecticut who played under Edsall for two seasons and is now a fifth-year senior for Pasqualoni.

Edsall "definitely has an emotional side," Willman said. "He's very passionate about the game."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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