Over the past 3 weeks, the University of Massachusetts football Minutemen have gone from a team that made you go “so that’s about the same” to a team that legitimately could be 2-1. That just feels weird writing, so luckily for us it’s not real and the team is 0-3 coming off of back to back incrementally more heartbreaking 3 point losses to PAC 12 and SEC teams. Bottom feeders in those conferences, but actual members none the less.
The offense has surprisingly but maybe unsurprisingly shouldered the load for the team the past 2 weeks putting up numbers last years squad were unaware they were allowed to reach while looking competent and at times exciting. The offensive line still gets pushed around on running downs and will need to improve, but this is a unit heading in the right direction with Froh and Tajae really gelling. It was also nice to see Woodley be effective and bounce back from that horrendous fumble.
The defense has been, present. While Randall Jette has been all-world for this team in the defensive backfield, the front seven have not done enough to generate a consistent pass rush. Maybe its youth. Maybe its a new system. Maybe they’re still calling defenses with the training wheels on. One thing is sure, this team needs to start generating pressure if they have any hopes of getting more than 1 or 2 conference wins which really at this point would seem disappointing. Amazing what a few weeks can do for a mindset.
Special teams continued to shine randomly with the return game being outstanding as usual and picking up a fake punt TD doesn’t hurt either.
All of these statements were true until the last 2+ minutes of the game, when Jette had the game in his hands in the form of an INT he had taken away from him for a completion that lead to Vandy’s go ahead TD and when Froh had the game in his hands with less than 1 minute to go at the 3 yard line and overthrew a WIDE open TD that would have iced the game. Neither of those things happened and coach Whipple trotted out his kicker who went full Charlie Brown and kicked it dead straight from the left hash, resulting in a miss and a hug from a Vandy player. The special teams coordinator was fired, the kicking competition was reopened, UMass lost the game, and Blake Fucking Lucas continues to be the personification of losing at any cost.
The Minutemen come into the game heavy underdogs to a truly superior opponent. Probably the only time this season you look across the field and go “ya, that team is better than ours”. Coming in to the game with the 10th most prolific passing attack and 11th stingiest defense, the Fighting JoePa’s will not be a fun time. Don’t bet this game, because betting against your own team is stupid.
Beaver Stadium should be cool if you’re going down for the game like we were going to, so please enjoy that. We’ll be at a wedding so updates will be sparse so we aren’t murdered by the bride, and remember: