Maryland (2-0) at Connecticut (0-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Rentschler Field (40,000) -- Hartford, Connecticut. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Maryland 2-0, UConn 0-1. Away Record: Maryland 0-0, UConn 0-0. Neutral Record: Maryland 0-0, UConn 0-0. Conference Record: Maryland 0-0, UConn 0-0. Series Record: Maryland leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Maryland Terrapins will try to win their third straight game to start the season when they go up against the Connecticut Huskies in a non- conference battle at Rentschler Field.
It has been a nice start to the season for Maryland, which is hitting the road for the first time. The Terps have posted nearly identical outcomes in the first two games with a wins over FIU (43-10) and FCS foe Old Dominion (47-10). It is the third time in the last four seasons that Maryland has started a campaign 2-0.
UConn was one of seven FBS programs to bow to FCS squads during the opening weekend of the season. The Huskies got an extra week off to recuperate from the difficult setback. This contest is the second of a three-game homestand for the Huskies, which gets no easier next weekend when the No. 11 Michigan Wolverines invade Hartford.
These teams have met once before but it has been quite some time since that initial matchup. In that contest, held in 1942, Maryland earned a 34-0 victory.
A year ago Maryland went through a number of quarterbacks, including starting a practice squad linebacker at one point. C.J. Brown has come back from the ACL injury that kept him out last season and has excelled under center. Brown has completed an impressive 34-of-45 pass attempts, throwing for five touchdowns and 556 yards without an interception. Brown is also a lethal threat with his legs as he has rushed for four touchdowns and 135 yards in just the first two games.
The Terrapins have plenty of talented skill players surrounding Brown. Brandon Ross struggled in the first game of the season but got back on track with 149 yards and a score on 18 carries against Old Dominion.
The most dangerous offensive weapon at Brown's disposal is wide receiver Stefon Diggs. The speedy pass-catcher has already racked up 277 yards and a pair of scores on 11 receptions, while also totaling 70 yards on three kickoff returns. Deon Long (12 receptions, 134 yards) has been strong a a possession receiver to complement Diggs.
As for the Maryland defense, the unit has been performing at a high level early on, albeit against lesser competition than it will face once the league schedule opens up. The Terps have let up just 10 points in each contest this season and have also allowed just 253 yards per game. It is admittedly early but that has the Terps ranked among the top 20 teams in the country in total defense. Maryland had three interceptions against ODU, the first time since 2009 that has happened in a game, and is tied with Boston College for the most takeaways (seven) early on.
William Likely (14 tackles), Matt Robinson (12) and L.A. Goree (12) lead the way in terms of tackles. Meanwhile, Marcus Whitfield (2.5 sacks) has been getting pressure on the quarterback. Dexter McDougle has been strong in the secondary with a team-high three passes defended as well as an interception.
UConn has not been a team known for a ton of offensive production under head coach Paul Pasqualoni. A year ago the Huskies ranked dead last in the Big East in total offense (318.3 ypg), scoring just 24 touchdowns. The showing the Huskies put on in week one didn't point to much improvement as they managed just 287 yards of total offense.
Chandler Whitmer is in his second season as starting quarterback and he played well enough against Towson, completing 16-of-28 pass attempts for 206 yards and two touchdowns. However, Whitmer was intercepted once and got very little protection as he was sacked five times.
Even though the offense wasn't extremely productive, Pasqualoni has to be pleased with the play he got at the skill positions. Lyle McCombs looked more like he did two seasons ago when he was named Big East Freshman of the Year, racking up 76 yards on 17 carries. Geremy Davis (five receptions, 100 yards) and Shakim Phillips (five receptions, 77 yards, two TDs) were also impressive in the passing game.
What was more disturbing than the Huskies' offensive performance against Towson was how the defense played. A year ago UConn ranked among the best team's in the country in terms of total defense but the Huskies were lit up for 393 yards by the Tigers. A year ago the Huskies allowed just 309.9 yards per game. Against a Maryland squad that has so many offensive weapons it is imperative that UConn reclaim the type of efficiency it had on defense in 2012.
Yawin Smallwood is one of the best linebackers in the American Athletic Conference if not the country and he looked the part against Towson with a team-high 16 tackles. Obio Melifonwu did a little bit of everything against Towson with 11 tackles, 1.5 for loss and an interception. Taylor Mack (10) and Ryan Donohue (10) each had double-digit tackle totals as well.
It seems that there has been a drop off on the defensive side of the ball for the Huskies this season. That is bad news against a Maryland team with a wealth of playmakers. Expect Maryland to move to 3-0 with relative ease.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Maryland 31, Connecticut 17
09/11 10:40:37 ET