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Open Thread: UConn Football vs. Houston | TV: 8 p.m., ESPN, TDECU Stadium

NCAA Football: Lamar at Houston Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

UConn is getting ready to take on the No. 6 team in the country in a prime time matchup on ESPN. While the Huskies pulled off a remarkable upset last year of then-No. 13 Houston at Rentschler Field, few are giving them much of a chance for a repeat performance in this year’s re-match.

And why should they? UConn’s season up until this point has been... uninspiring at best. At worst, it has been a pretty humbling experience given the preseason predictions running as high as eight or nine wins. In a new development for UConn Football, Bob Diaco’s squad entered this season with some (modest) expectations. So far, there is little reason to believe they will be met.

The offensive line, the one with so much experience and the quality returning starters, has failed to show marked improvement. At quarterback, we haven’t seen a ton of growth from Bryant Shirreffs, who like last year is still running for his life half the time he drops back to pass— it can’t be easy. The offensive strategy—we can only say this so many different ways so let’s just put it really bluntly—has mostly sucked.

With Diaco’s defensive prowess a known commodity, the hope was the offense would take that step forward and the team would become whole. That simply hasn’t been the case, and it has fans thinking they’re seeing the same old Huskies.

There is a small glimmer of hope, however. The offense has performed well in spurts, when it uses a more modern style, but the coaching staff seems hesitant to embrace change.

For two straight games, we have been begging for UConn to spend the entire game running a spread out offense after seeing its success at Navy. Against Syracuse, it was once again at its best that way.

We know the offensive line cannot support a power-run style, but it has been successful when Shirreffs quickly gets the ball out of his hands. It even opens things up in the running game. At this point, it is downright befuddling as to why this approach has not been adopted full-time.

Perhaps Diaco and the coaching staff have been holding their cards close to the chest in order to have the best chance of pulling off the impossible tonight. Maybe something clicked while reviewing the Syracuse film and the adjustment has already been made. One can dream.

Regardless of the absence of Greg Ward Jr., this UConn defense still stopped a very talented Houston team last year, holding the Cougars to 10 offensive points. There is reason to believe UConn can keep it close again with its defense, but without any punch to its offensive attack, that’s about the best we can hope for.

If the offense looks different? Who knows, crazier things have happened.

This is the open thread. Feel free to share your pregame thoughts and then keep the discussion going during the game.