With some major changes made to the UConn football team, most notably at head coach and quarterback, the Huskies are hosting Purdue at Rentschler Field in their third game of the season.
The first two games did not go well at all. UConn got blown out by Fresno State and then suffered an embarrassing loss to Holy Cross, which led to the upheaval at the top of the program. Randy Edsall is no longer head coach and Lou Spanos, the defensive coordinator who many players are rallying behind, is now the interim leader of the program.
Sources close to the team say the mood in practice and meetings has changed, and players are more willing to be themselves under the leadership of Spanos. We’ve seen indications of this from players’ social media accounts as well, including a defense of a viral video clip that appears to have been taken out of context.
I think we can also expect a more aggressive approach from the Huskies today and across the rest of the season. Defensively, this means more blitzing and mixing of personnel and pressure. Offensively, it means switching the QB, going for it more on 4th downs, and opening up the playbook to give the running backs and receivers a better chance to succeed.
With wide receiver Cam Ross out due to injury, an already thin unit is looking for players to step up. Freshman Keelan Marion caught two touchdown passes last week, and sophomore tight end Jayce Medlock caught one. Both are good candidates to be even more productive across the season.
At this point, UConn and Spanos need to think about what this team can accomplish this season to save face. The Huskies are 34-point underdogs in this game, a remarkably high total for an FBS game with a road favorite. If UConn can cover, or at least show signs of life as a football team, I’d consider that to be a pretty good performance.
The Huskies still have winnable games coming up on the schedule, if their coaching staff can put them in a better position to win. Today we’ll see if that’s possible.