Pasqualoni wants the Huskies to focus on Saturday's game

Storrs - Paul Pasqualoni couldn't remember the name, but he sure remembers the message.

"Some great coach at some point, somewhere said, 'The more distracted you are the less competitive you become,' " Pasqualoni said when he began his weekly press conference Tuesday at the Burton Family Football Complex.

Welcome to UConn-Maryland week, where Pasqualoni believes keeping focus is paramount as the Huskies (1-1) prepare for Saturday's meeting with their former coach, Randy Edsall, and the Terrapins (2-0) at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. (12:30 p.m., SNY).

"If you're distracted, I don't know how you function at a high level," said Pasqualoni, who replaced Edsall when he accepted his current job only 24 hours after UConn was beaten by Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, the program's first BCS appearance, "So all I say to the kids every week is conserve your energy. You're going to need it to focus on the game.

"And I'll tell them that again. I'm not going to say it again just because it's Maryland. I told them that every day going out to preseason camp and every day in the spring. To me, the motivation to play this game is all about preparation. I think motivation has got to be an internalized thing in order to have the love and passion to play."

That won't be a problem this week, although UConn's veteran players, who were all recruited by Edsall, went out of their way Tuesday to downplay that their motivation is redemption or revenge.

"Speaking for myself, I didn't really have any resentment," senior defensive end Trevardo Williams said. "It was disappointing how (Edsall) left, but I also understand through time that it's a business and I can't be mad at him for that. I would make the same choice if it would come to my benefit in the future.

"I want to beat that team bad. It's something that we all want, but it's nothing personal it's about winning another game so we can go to a bowl game."

Edsall took part in a conference call during Tuesday's media day and said he did regret that speaking to his players following his hasty exit.

"If I could do all over again I wish there was some way to see the players and tell them face-to-face that I was going to leave and come to Maryland," he said. "But due to the circumstances surrounding that I wasn't able to do that. That's something that I've got to live with.'

Tight end Ryan Griffin, a fifth-year senior, said there's isn't as much animosity - at least from his perspective - as the public thinks.

"This was my only Division I-A offer, so in that respect I owe him a lot," Griffin said. "I feel like this whole building was a part of him he built it. In that sense we owe him that, but we also need a win this week.

"The wound is healed. It was two years ago. It is what it is."

• Pasqualoni upgraded defensive tackle Shamar Stephen (knee) from doubtful to questionable. Stephen hasn't played in the first two games, but Pasqualoni will watch him closely this week in practice before determining where Stephen will play.

c.banning@theday.com

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