College Football Preview: The 2014 Massachusetts Minutemen
Mark Whipple returns to Massachusetts to turn around a struggling program.
2014 College Football Preview
The Massachusetts Minutemen look to improve on consecutive 1-11 seasons behind former coach Mark Whipple.
Overview: UMass joined the MAC in 2012 despite having a program that was on a downturn in the FCS so their 1-11 record was no surprise. A second 1-11 mark in 2013 cost Charlie Molnar his job and the team brought back former head man Mark Whipple who had success when the Minutemen were in the FBS.
USA TODAY Sports
Offense: If you follow UMass even a little bit you know that finding the endzone wasn't something that happened very often. Little success in the air and virtually no rushing attack is about as nice as it can be said so what will former Marshall backup Blake Frohnapfel do that AJ Doyle can't? That remains to be seen but probably nothing if the line doesn't block somebody but it gives the team an added option. Two of the three top runners return but both averaged less then four yards per touch. Tajae Sharpe (61-680) was the passing game and his numbers were built with the defense aware the ball was probably going to him so he might be a star elsewhere. The group up front has another year of experience and were adequate pass blockers but failed to open holes on the ground.
Defense: The defensive line struggled to pressure the quarterback and stop the run and only had 17 TFL overall. With 14 of those tackles having graduated the unit finds itself replacing four of the top five performers which says this could be another tough year. ILB Stanley Andre paced the team with 76 tackles and will be asked to match or exceed those numbers. The secondary might have been better if the line was more effective but it does have some experience and depth. However the guys in front of them have to help out or this unit will be stretched to the limit.
Special Teams: UMass needs a punter and Blake Lewis was only 3-10 on field goals including 1-6 from +40 yards so I can see the need for another kicker. Trey Dudley-Giles will handle all return duties and averaged over eleven yards bringing back 12 punts.
Outlook: I have to think there is nowhere to go but up for the Minutemen but I'm not sure how far up Whipple will take this team in his return but even two wins would be a positive thing right now for a team that has had nothing going for them since joining the MAC.