College Football Preview: The 2015 Massachusetts Minutemen
Massachusetts Minutemen Preview
2014 Record: 3-9
The Massachusetts Minutemen look for respectability in Mark Whipple’s second season at the helm.
Overview: The Massachusetts Minutemen were explosive on offense at times in 2014 but could be scored on and the result was a 3-9 campaign. The goal is to find a happy medium on both sides of the football with an emphasis on consistency and winning the close ones which didn’t happen a year ago.
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Offense: Quarterback Blake Frohnapfel was explosive at times in the air with 3,345 yards with 23 TD’s and ten INT’s so he was both productive and effective at limiting mistakes but he was also just a 55% passer. The good news is Tajae Sharpe returns to lead the receiving corps (85-1281) with Rodney Mills, Marken Michel and Jalen Williams combining for over 1,100 yards so UMass has options. The Minutemen didn’t run all that much and weren’t real effective when they did. Shadrach Abrokwah (123-573) and Lorenzo Woodley (102-420) didn’t possess explosiveness and quite honestly the rushing attack was second fiddle to the passing game. The run might get a boost with all seven of their top linemen back but this offense is still built to throw.
Defense: The line gets back five of their top six so if experience counts for anything this group should see improvement. The run D was adequate but getting behind the line of scrimmage and making plays was definitely not a strength and the pass rush was poor on a good day. ILB Jovan Santos-Knox led the team with 98 stops and a team high 8.5 TFL. Ten players saw action in at least nine games and nine are back so once again experience and depth are a strong point. Virtually everyone returns in the secondary but this group struggled against opposing air attacks so whether this is a good or bad thing is open for debate. Having said that a poor pass rush certainly doesn’t help an already iffy situation.
Special Teams: The Minutemen will be looking for a punter after Brian McDonald graduated while Blake Lewis and Logan Laurent combined to go 6-10 on field goals which isn’t a lot of attempts or makes and six missed PAT’s is a disaster. Khary Bailey-Smith averaged 24.5 yards on 23 kick returns and a TD while Trey Dudley-Giles can handle kicks and punts.
Outlook: UMass has tons of experience in all the right places and if they can win the one possession games they could approach .500. However the defense has got to contribute and keep the scoreboard from getting out of hand and this unit will ultimately decide how far this team goes.