Gazette: Football Anxious To Start Hitting - UMass Athletics

Gazette: Football Anxious To Start Hitting

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Matt Vautour looks forward to Saturday's UMass-William & Mary game with this story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

As he walked toward the practice field Wednesday on another 90 degree day in a preseason that's been filled with hot ones, everything about playing a game, even getting hit, sounded good to University of Massachusetts quarterback Kyle Havens.

"I'm tired of practicing. I'm ready to play a game," said the senior, who was wearing a red practice jersey that reminds defenders not to tackle quarterbacks. "I haven't been hit in a long time. I'm excited to get hit and hit somebody."">

By MATT VAUTOUR Staff Writer AMHERST - As he walked toward the practice field Wednesday on another 90 degree day in a preseason that's been filled with hot ones, everything about playing a game, even getting hit, sounded good to University of Massachusetts quarterback Kyle Havens. "I'm tired of practicing. I'm ready to play a game," said the senior, who was wearing a red practice jersey that reminds defenders not to tackle quarterbacks. "I haven't been hit in a long time. I'm excited to get hit and hit somebody." Linebacker and junior captain Tyler Holmes agreed. "I'm very excited. Anxious," he said. "We've been hitting each other for weeks now. We're excited to get out there and play someone else." The hitting will come soon as the Minutemen host William & Mary, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in both team's season and Colonial Athletic Association opener. Even coach Kevin Morris was anxious to see his team against an opponent. "They'd like to play (Wednesday). They've been going at it hard for three weeks straight. It's been hot which makes it longer," Morris said. "We have a great group of good character kids, who have come to play every day. Let's see how it carries over to a real game." The game figures to test the Minutemen quickly. William & Mary is ranked No. 4 in both Championship Subdivision polls, eight months after nearly upsetting eventual national champion Villanova in the postseason. The Minutemen will counter with a young and unproven squad, trying to put last year's 5-6 campaign behind them. Morris said playing a CAA game right away is a challenge. "We're a young team that needs to figure out who we are. We have a conference game right away so our goal was to find our identity going into game week. I think the kids have done a good job of that," he said. "I think this team is going to fight and battle through the highs and lows, I think they're going to stay pretty true to form. I think if you do that you're going to win more games than you lose." Like the Minutemen, Havens, who struggled in his first year in Amherst after transferring from Diablo Valley Junior College (Calif.), has something to prove. "I'm excited for what's going to happen. I'm going to get a shot again and make the most of it. It's a chance to prove myself again," Havens said. "We're not worried about what anybody else says, we know we have a good team. We're definitely going to come out and shock a lot of people this week." His counterpart at William & Mary was a surprise choice by longtime Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock, who begins his 31st season in Williamsburg, Va. While many expected Laycock would start North Carolina transfer Michael Paulus at quarterback, he opted for fifth-year senior Mike Callahan. "He's been in our program a long time and really understands our offense," Laycock said Monday on the CAA weekly coaches' conference call. "He's done a good job in preseason making good decisions and running our offense." Morris expected the Tribe to be solid offensively no matter who won the starting job. He was equally as concerned with who Callahan is handing the ball to, as junior Jonathan Grimes rushed for 1,294 yards and nine touchdowns last year earning him a place of the watch list for the Walter Payton Award. "They've always been a good offense team and they're going to run what they run no matter who is in there," Morris said. "We're always about stopping the run and right from the get go you better stop the run with Jon Grimes."

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