|UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni spent 14 seasons as head coach at Syracuse, leading his team to a Big East championship in 1998. Pasqualoni returns to the Carrier Dome for Friday's matchup. (US Presswire)|
When Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni mans the Carrier Dome sidelines for the first time since parting ways with his former team in 2004, he insists his return will simply be a business trip.
Pasqualoni, who went 107-59-1 in 14 seasons as head coach at Syracuse from 1991-2004, returned to the Big East in 2011 after spending five years in the NFL as an assistant. Last November, in Pasqualoni's first season as the UConn head coach, the Huskies defeated the Orange, 28-21, in East Hartford.
“I haven't thought about it a great deal other then it's a big game in our conference and it's a big game for us,” Pasqualoni said during Monday's Big East coaches' teleconference. “We're not going up to Central New York to pick apples on the hay wagon.”
A host of future NFL stars on both sides of the ball developed under Pasqualoni at Syracuse. On offense, Donovan McNabb set the school record for TD passes in a career (77), and Marvin Harrison owns school records for receiving yards in a season (1,131 in 1995) and in a career (2,728). Former Syracuse LB Keith Bulluck retired this summer as the third-leading tackler in Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers franchise history. Colts DE Dwight Freeney, a unanimous All-American at Syracuse in 2001, is currently ranked 24th in NFL history in career sacks with 103.5.
Pasqualoni also led Syracuse to a number of notable wins during his tenure. In only Pasqualoni's third game at the helm, Syracuse manhandled then No. 5 Florida 38-21 in a September 1991 victory. The Gators' roster included former QB Shane Matthews, RB Errict Rhett and DLs Ellis Johnson and Kevin Carter, who all went on to play in the NFL.
In 1998, Syracuse defeated Virginia Tech 28-26 on a last-second touchdown pass when McNabb rolled to his right, threw across his body and connected with former TE Steve Brominski in the left corner of the end zone. The Orangemen (the school changed its nickname to the Orange in 2004) went on to defeat Miami 66-13 in the Big East regular-season finale to win the conference and clinch a spot in the BCS.
It was a loss against the Hurricanes, oddly enough, that Pasqualoni considers his favorite game at Syracuse. In 1992, a year after Miami split the national title with the University of Washington, the Orangemen narrowly lost 16-10 to the Hurricanes at the Carrier Dome. As Marvin Graves led the Orangemen down the field for a potential game-winning touchdown, the former Syracuse quarterback became so fatigued that Pasqualoni had to burn a crucial timeout.
“Marvin was playing so hard he was throwing up in the huddle,” Pasqualoni said.
Graves returned to connect with former TE Chris Gedney on a 29-yard completion to the Miami 3-yard line in the waning seconds. Former Hurricanes S Casey Greer, though, stopped Gedney before he reached the end zone to clinch the victory. Gedney slammed his fist against the turf to express his dismay, according to the New York Times.
Syracuse still earned a berth to the Fiesta Bowl, where it defeated Colorado 26-22.
“That was Miami in the day, they had the best personnel in football,” Pasqualoni said. “We were all sick afterwards because we didn't think there'd be any way we'd go to a big bowl game like that. They took us based on the effort and performance in that game.”
Accolades pour in for Louisville RB Perry: Cardinals RB Senorise Perry was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after his 101-yard, four-touchdown performance in last Saturday's 45-35 win over Pittsburgh.
Perry leads the Big East in rushing touchdowns with nine and is ranked second in rushing yards with 559. In 2011, Perry had 27 yards on 12 carries.
“Senorise has enough speed where if he can get into the open field he can run away from defenders,” Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. “Our offensive line is doing a great job of blocking. If you look at four of those touchdowns, I was telling Senorise he didn't even get touched when he went into the end zone. He didn't have to run through a defender because we've been able to move people at the point of attack.”
Temple RB Matt Brown didn't have a single carry against the Huskies after tweaking his injured ankle early in the game. Owls coach Steve Addazio, though, said he's confident that Brown will play Saturday vs. Rutgers.
Rutgers' starting kicker Kyle Federico missed last Saturday's win over Syracuse with a hip injury. Nick Borgese, his replacement, connected on a 25-yard field goal on his only attempt of the game but missed an extra point. Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood indicated on Monday that Borgese could start again if Federico's condition doesn't improve throughout the week.
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