Edsall: "I thought we had a great team win"
COLLEGE PARK--For more than a decade, Randy Edsall was Connecticut football. He was the one who led the Huskies from Division I-AA to a I-A independent to a full member of Division I-A and the Big East.
Then he left, rather abruptly, leaving behind a 74-70 overall record, five bowl game appearances, and a share of two conference titles to take over in College Park in early 2011.
Now he returns.
Edsall leads Maryland (2-0) up to the Nutmeg State on Saturday to take on Connecticut (0-1) as the Terrapins look to remain undefeated to begin the 2013 season.
And if you dig deep enough into the "coachspeak,"stripping away the bits about “having confidence” and doing “everything to the best of your ability,” the thought of returning to Connecticut is still on Edsall’s mind.
“I was just always grateful that [they] took a chance on a guy who was only a coordinator for one year and had never been a head coach and decided to give me the keys to the car and let me do, really, what I wanted to do in terms of putting that program together,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I think I’m pretty good at being able behind able to put things behind and maybe afterward that’s when you kind of reflect and have the emotions run a little bit more.”
This won't be Maryland's first time facing Connecticut since Edsall was hired in College Park, though. The Terps lost to the Huskies, 24-21, on what will be almost exactly one year ago, come Saturday.
"He said not to focus on [the return]," quarterback C.J. Brown said. "He knows he’s going to get booed and things like that but the biggest thing is we owe him one. They came in last year and we’re going to go up there and try to get one back.”
In that game, quarterback Perry Hills struggled and Maryland turned the ball over twice, along with mustering just 205 total yards.
"We definitely felt like we let one get away because we knew we were a way better team than they were," said junior linebacker Matt Robinson. "They capitalized off of our mistakes. They didn't beat us. We beat ourselves."
Whether the storyline of Edsall returning makes any tangible difference or not, one thing will matter: This is Maryland's first road test and first game against a BCS-conference opponent.
“I’ve been in this profession long enough and anytime you go on the road, they’re going to boo you,” Edsall said. ”They’re not going to like you. I wouldn’t expect anything different.
“I told our guys, when we go up there, the focus has to be on us.”
Maryland and Connecticut have been on different paths so far, with the Terps winning handily over a low-major FBS school in Florida International and a school transitioning to FBS in Old Dominion.
UConn, on the other hand, lost to FCS opponent Towson in their season opener before taking an early bye week.
"He wants to beat them, but I think he's really approaching it like another game," Robinson said. "He didn't hint to us that it was any different, so we're not going to approach it any differently."
"I told them it’s a loud stadium, but the thing we need to do is go up there and see if we can take the crowd out of the game," Edsall added. "That’s just us preparing and that’s just us going out and everyone needs to do their job."
It took some more sifting, some more wading, and some more searching through that coachspeak to find one last bit. Then there is was, a bit of genuine reflection, however brief, from Edsall.
"I’m very proud of what was accomplished there,” he said. “Again, very proud of what took place there. There are a lot of great memories, but, again, when you’re playing this game you put all that behind you and you get your team…ready to go play.”
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night.