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UConn welcomes Edsall, Terps

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published September 14. 2013 4:00AM

One game into its college football season, UConn already has a sense of urgency.

Fresh off a disappointing season-opening defeat, the Huskies are in dire need of a course correction to avoid continuing down the wrong path.

Tonight's game against Maryland is a prime opportunity for the Huskies to do just that. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Rentschler Field. It also marks the return of former UConn coach Randy Edsall, now in his third year at Maryland.

"This is a game that we need," offensive lineman Steve Greene said. "Our backs are against the wall right now after losing in week one. We need to go out and show up and get this win."

The Huskies had over two weeks to fix the issues that cost them in a shocking 33-18 loss to Towson on Aug. 29. They needed every one of those days, too, considering the extensive to-do list.

"You can't sit there and hang your head because Maryland is coming in," redshirt senior Tim Willman said. "So we just analyzed all our mistakes, every single little thing. We watched the film tons of times. We had a ton of practice reps during the bye week."

Coach Paul Pasqualoni didn't have to worry about repairing his team's psyche. The Huskies responded well and took advantage of the break to prepare not only for Maryland but the rest of the season.

"You have an opportunity to get better and make the team stronger," Pasqualoni said. "It's about the team. Their attitude and resiliency is really pretty good. … I haven't had to do a whole lot. The kids want to be good and want to have success."

Beating Maryland would be an excellent place to start, but it won't be an easy task.

So far, the Terrapins (2-0) have looked vastly improved on both sides of the ball compared to last year's team. They averaged 45 points and 581.5 yards of total offense while allowing just 10 per game in dominating wins over Florida International and Old Dominion. It's the first time that they've gone over the 500-yard mark in the opening two games since 1982.

Senior quarterback C.J. Brown, who is finally healthy after sitting out last season with an ACL injury, serves as the fuse that ignites an explosive offensive attack. He is a dangerous double threat, rushing for 135 yards and passing for 556 yards in two games.

He headlines a seasoned and talented offensive unit that includes wide receiver Stefon Diggs, a big play threat who's averaging a whopping 25.2 yards per catch. Diggs has 11 receptions for 277 yards and two touchdowns.

"Having C.J. back as the quarterback has really helped us," Edsall said. "It was unfortunate that he got hurt last year and went through what he had to go through. But he worked extremely hard to get back. He's playing at a really high level and he's playing with a lot of confidence.

"We have some really good pieces around him. … We have guys that have the ability to make big plays. Fortunately for us, the first two games we've been able to do that."

Defensively, Maryland likes to pressure their opponents and relies on its big, physical linebackers.

"They're a pretty solid team who has played very, very well in two games," Pasqualoni said. "So they've got a lot of confidence."

Pasqualoni pointed to limiting big plays as a major key, something that was a problem against Towson.

With three straight home games to open the season, including Michigan next week, tonight would be a good time for UConn to get in the win column.

"Given the circumstances now, we've got to get a win under our belt," Willman said. "Maryland is a good team. This definitely means a lot to everybody."

g.keefe@theday.com

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