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No. 12 – Massachusetts

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Jul 12, 2014.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

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    By Stuart


    [h=3]Countdown to the 2014 Season – No. 12 Massachusetts[/h]–
    Note: This is the first in a series of previews for the upcoming season. Every other day, from here until the start of fall camp, I will be posting a new preview, with the countdown going from the easiest game on the schedule to the hardest (the hardest game? Not much suspense – the Oregon game in Eugene).
    I invite your thoughts and comments as we count down CU’s 2014 schedule …

    Overview
    Massachusetts was a proven 1-AA power, but has struggled mightily in the 1-A ranks. The Minutemen played in the national championship game of the FCS playoffs three times, winning the national title in 1998.
    UMass transitioned to the FBS in 2012, joining the Mid-American Conference … and the move has been a disaster.
    At the end of the*2011 season, UMass’s last in 1-AA, Massachusetts fired then head*coach Kevin Morris, who had accumulated a 16-17 record over the previous three seasons. “It was a move we felt we really needed to make to best position ourselves for this transition (into the MAC)”, said athletic director John McCutcheon at the time. McCutcheon brought in Notre Dame assistant coach Charley Molnar, who proceeded to win all of two games in his first two years. In 2012, the Minutemen defeated only Akron (a team which also went 1-11), while in 2013 the only victory for UMass came at the expense of Miami (Ohio), (a team which went 0-12 last season).
    Enter Mark Whipple, or, better stated, re-enter Mark Whipple.
    Whipple was the coach of the Minutemen for six years (1998-2003), winning the national championship in his first season as head coach at UMass. While coaching the Minutemen in Amherst, Whipple compiled a 49-26 record, winning three Atlantic 10 titles.
    UMass fans are hoping Whipple can bring the Minutemen “Back to the Future”, and resurrect a lethargic program.
    2013 Season
    As noted, Massachusetts did win one game last season, a 17-10 win over hapless Miami (Ohio). Otherwise, the 2013 campaign was one even the 2012 CU team could not have imagined.
    Offensively, UMass finished either 12th or 13th in the MAC in points (11.7 – 124th in the nation), passing (156.4 yards per game – 111th nationally) and total offense (281.6 yards per game – 120th in the nation). The Minutemen faced eight bowl teams last fall – Wisconsin, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, and Ohio – and scored a total of 66 points in those eight games (8.25 points per outing).
    With the Massachusetts offense unable to generate any yards or points, it was not a surprise that the defense struggled mightily as well. UMass gave up 433.0 yards (98th nationally) and 33.0 points per game (97th nationally) … though it bears noting that both of those numbers were better than what Colorado gave up (468.0 yards and 38.3 points). Against the aforementioned eight bowl teams, UMass allowed 317 points, or 39.6 points per game.
    Offense
    Like Colorado, UMass had one player taken in the 2014 draft. Like CU’s Paul Richardson, that player – tight end Rob Blanchflower – was an important cog of the team’s offense.
    The first question for head coach Mark Whipple to answer is who will be his quarterback. Whipple has an impressive resume for coaching NFL quarterbacks. Coaching for the Steelers, Bengals and Browns in the NFL, Whipple has coached Ben Roethlisberger, Donovan McNabb, Seneca Wallace, Charlie Batch and Kevin Kolb.
    This just in … none of those names are on the UMass roster for 2014.
    The quarterback job is*junior A.J. Doyle’s to lose. Doyle passed for 1,274 yards last season, with six touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Doyle’s main competition for the job this fall will be Marshall graduate transfer Blake Frohnapfel. In two seasons as a backup at Marshall, Frohnapfel completed 35-of-45 passes for 386 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. A threat out of the read-option, he also carried the ball 24 times for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
    Whichever quarterback wins the battle for starter, there are a few – but just a few – options to help them. Wide receiver Tajae Sharpe (61 receptions for 680 yards) is the best wideout returning, and while three of the top four rushers from last year return, none were threats. The wildcard in the rushing attack is Jordan Broadnax, who was projected as a starter last season before missing the campaign with a knee injury. The offensive line, which was poor, returns only two starters.
    Defense
    UMass will shift to a 3-4 defense this season. The defensive coordinator, Tom Masella, is a former Whipple assistant (2002-03), but most recently was the offensive coordinator at … Wagner. Translation: there isn’t much to go on in terms of predicting how the Minutemen will line up on defense this fall.
    Perhaps one the reasons for switching to the 3-4 is the lack of defensive linemen. Only one player of note, senior tackle Daniel Maynes, returns, and he will likely be placed in the center of the line, leaving inexperience on the edges for opposing offenses to exploit.
    The defensive outlook improves the farther away one gets from the interior (much like the CU defense). The linebacker corps*have a potential all-conference player in Stanley Andre (111 tackles last season), and some decent young talent. The secondary is the best unit on the team, with three starters returning. The defensive backs will be counted upon to keep opposing defenses honest, while generating more than the eight interceptions the unit produced in 2013.
    Schedule
    Did someone say “Bataan”?
    For a team which has gone 2-22 in its first two seasons in Division 1-A, the athletic department did the players no favors in trying to build momentum in 2014. The Minutemen open against Boston College before taking on Colorado at home on September 6th. UMass then takes to the road to face Vanderbilt and Penn State before returning home for its MAC opener against a Bowling Green team which went 10-4 last season.
    Yikes.
    The first really good chance at a victory this fall for UMass comes in early October, with a road game against 2013′s only victim, Miami (Ohio). The Minutemen’s only other MAC victim – Akron in 2012 – is also a road game, and doesn’t come until the second-to-last game of the season. The only home game against a team with a losing record in 2013 (other than Colorado) comes against Eastern Michigan in late October.
    Matchup
    Since ending a team-record 23 game road losing streak with a win over Utah to end the 2011 season, Colorado has gone 1-9 in true road games (with the only other win coming against Washington State in Pullman in 2012). That’s a 2-32 record on the road over the past seven seasons.
    Translation: Colorado gets to take absolutely nothing for granted when donning the white road uniforms.
    That being said, it would be difficult to imagine a road game for the Buffs which is easier than taking on UMass in Gillette Stadium in Boston. The Minutemen averaged 15,830 fans last season, barely avoiding the 15,000 minimum required to avoid being placed on probation by the NCAA. The only home game against a BCS opponent, Vanderbilt, drew 16,419. With Colorado rarely playing in the eastern time zone, it would not be difficult to imagine that Colorado will have almost as many fans in the stands on September 6th as do the Minutemen.
    Massachusetts is struggling as a 1-A team, and will be in transition with a new coaching staff. Colorado even gets the break of not having to face the Minutemen first, as UMass will take on Boston College in the opener, giving CU and its coaching staff at least one set of game films to review before heading east.
    Colorado should be able to run the ball consistently on the UMass defensive front, and the Buffs have enough talent on defense to curtail any new wrinkles the new coaching staff might attempt.
    The Buffs should be two- to three-touchdown favorites in this game.
    A welcome change in the*betting line*from CU’s recent past.
    —–



    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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  2. HotRack

    HotRack Rez BubbleHead Club Member

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    Not sure this game would even make the cut to be granted a line by the sports books. But damn sure, I'll be there!
     
  3. CVilleBuff

    CVilleBuff Club Member Club Member

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    Nothing illustrates our misery quite like that road record.
     

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