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Gameday Preview and Open Thread: UConn vs. East Carolina | TV: ESPNU, 7 p.m.

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With bowl eligibility almost completely out of the picture, UConn Football is in the all-too-familiar position of playing for pride. Can this team start the final stretch of the season on a positive note?

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

FIRST HALF RECAP: UConn ahead 10-6

ECU's defense has been held in check nicely by UConn, as the Huskies take a 4-point lead into the halftime break.

The Pirates haven't really been able to sustain drives- one solid one ended with a failed 4th-down attempt. They had the ball at the end of the half with a chance to score, but UConn cornerback Jamar Summers intercepted ECU quarterback James Summers and the half reached its end.

The lone Pirates touchdown came on an interception returned for a touchdown off Bryant Shirreffs, but UConn would block the PAT.

Offensively, UConn started off sluggishly but got moving by the end. Field position wasn't great, but the Huskies made the most of it, finishing with 138 yards in the first half. A 2-yard touchdown by Arkeel Newsome capped off a 94-yard drive for the go-ahead points.

UConn's defense has so far proven up to the challenge of ECU's dynamic defense. If it can hold up, it will bode well for the Huskies chances to hold onto this lead and resuscitate excitement surrounding the program.

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This is the Open Thread for Friday night's showdown between UConn and East Carolina. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. Read our preview, enjoy the new alternate uniforms and share your thoughts in our thread below.

Preview

After UConn's demoralizing loss in Cincinnati on Saturday, UConn Football is trying to pick up the pieces after a short week in tonight's match-up against East Carolina.

Because nothing about last Saturday went well.

No part of the 37-13 blowout inspired confidence in this team. Bob Diaco, ever the optimist, has said otherwise but--and I'm sure he's right that on film some players won their individual matchups--it would be really hard to believe after watching UConn score 13 points against a team allowing over 30 on average.

For the first time all season, quarterback Bryant Shirreffs had a really disappointing performance, going 12-of-27 passing for 87 yards, an interception and losing a fumble. Many of his throws were way off, he seemed to be misreading plays, and simply must learn to slide when he runs.

Now, with one less day to rest and/or prepare the Huskies will face an East Carolina team that looks much better than its 4-4 record. The Pirates have two opponents in common with UConn, BYU and Navy, falling to both as well. Last week they played well against a really good Temple team, losing 24-14 despite taking a lead into the fourth quarter. Their two-headed quarterback duo of James Summers and Blake Kemp will be a handful for UConn, which will have to continuously shift its defensive mindset when the Pirates switch between Summers, a dual-threat, and Kemp, who is more of a passer. They have a talented stable of skill position players to work with as well.

The UConn offense, conversely, looked lost on Saturday after looking like it might actually be somewhat decent across the previous two games. It will have to regain its composure against what should be a much better defense than last week's opponent. ECU outside linebacker Montese Overton has been a destructive force, with 40 tackles, 9 TFL, 7.5 sacks and 6 passes broken up. UConn offensive coordinator Frank Verducci needs to find a way to get the outside receivers and tight ends more involved in the offense, re-establish the running game, and bring more variety to the playcalling.

Unfortunately, with expectations weathered by two consecutive discouraging losses, it feels as though the best we can hope for is for UConn to keep it close tonight. The Huskies don't need to win, but they do need to prove they aren't the team that completely laid an egg at Cincinnati.

If that doesn't happen, or if the Huskies happen to falter next week at Tulane, we can expect to see the lowest attendance of the season for the home finale against Houston, and for the off-season to be filled with questions about the direction of the program.