Monday, August 26, 2013

Ambrose has taken Towson to unchartered territory

Former UConn offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose, seen talking to LSU's
Les Miles before a 2012 game will lead his Towson team against UConn
Following the question and answer sessions with UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni and a few of the Huskies I was among those working in the hallway at Gampel Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. UConn SID Mike Enright walked off with his cell phone in his hand and asked "do you want to talk to Rob Ambrose?"

Considering that we were supposed to get the Towson head coach on a teleconference before Pasqualoni met with the media and I promised my boss that I was going to have a story on the former UConn offensive coordinator this week, I figured it was a rhetorical question.

Let's just say that the eight-minute interview with Ambrose was well worth the wait.

He started it off recalling the story of being shown the contract UConn was going to sign to play Towson when he was still an assistant coach with the Huskies which I posted in a previous blog. but there was more to come.

He addressed what Towson gets from agreeing to play teams like UConn.

"It is another great opportunity to play a really good football team, get a little more national exposure and take a little bit of a paycheck. I can tell you that we are not chartering the flight because we are not getting that much money so we are traveling back and forth kind of sucks but it is a good opportunity.

Here are his thoughts on returning to Rentschler even if it means being in the visitors' locker room.

"I can tell you from experience with all the spring games we played in the stadium, I certainly liked being in the home-team locker room a hell of a lot more than I liked being in the visiting-team locker room. It is a night game so I don’t have to worry about when the sun goes down where the shade sits, it is nice to go back. I have a bunch of the old players telling me that they are coming back into town and that is going to be cool but come kickoff time it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the kids."

So what is he expecting from the Huskies?

"Whether it is UConn, Syracuse or anything Paul has his hands on, every team he coaches is extremely disciplined, extremely physical, extremely tough and they are always going to play sound defense and it is no different here.

"They are bigger than we are. I have some guys with some size too but once they go out I have the mighty midgets, they are like the Little Giants coming in there. We have to play up because physically UConn is better than we are."

Here's his take on his star running back Terrance West who has run for 2,340 yards and 43 touchdowns in his first two seasons and is a player Pasqualoni said was one of the best running backs the Huskies will face this season.

"He is one of those guys who almost got lost. He was committed to Clemson at one point and they kind of backed out. He has a whole string of bad things that kind of happened to him that led him to our doorstep. I watched a very talented and immature young man grow up to be an extremely impressive, mature physically gifted great teammate. The kid has always had talent but watching him grow up and being a part of that process and seeing how he has taken being a teammate to studying the game becoming more of a professional mentality of how you approach the learning of Division I football. I can not rave enough about him as a person and a player."

So which FBS teams are the Tigers slated to play in upcoming seasons?

"West Virginia, South Florida, Maryland is on it in some manner once or twice, as far as I know there won’t be one of those years when we play the No. 21 team in the country and the No. 5 team in the country in the same year, we are not doing that anymore

"It has its pluses and its negatives. It is raising the bar for the measuring stuck of how you want to approach the season but you are also taking a chance every time you play. The more of these you play against competition that is either a little bit bigger than you or better than you and knowing that when those guys comes out, the next guy who comes there is not that much difference between he and the starter, you just can’t fight Mike Tyson play after play and expect to survive the season, you just can’t and our league is tough enough at this level. It has some benefits and lets your guys know where you stand physically, mentally, speed wise and everything but it is not something you want to do every day."

What are Ambrose's thoughts on how preseason camp played out especially with so many players back from back to back Colonial Athletic Association championship teams?

"It is a very mature veteran team. They have been through a lot, been a lot of places, won a lot of ball games, suffered through losing and what that felt like and they have had the joys of winning and doing things that this program has never seen done before and earned those too. Winning games is fun but watching young men turn into real men, that is real fun."


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