Herald: Morris, UMass Resilient In Opener - UMass Athletics

Herald: Morris, UMass Resilient In Opener

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The Boston Herald has a follow-up story on UMass' win over William & Mary. John Connolly points out how UMass continued to bounce back despite mistakes and errors in the game.

A telltale sign of that grit came during a fourth-and-2 play from the Tribe 7-yard line late in the third quarter of the season opener at McGuirk Stadium. UMass elected to go for it instead of kicking a field goal while trailing 16-14. The Minutemen botched the play on an illegal forward pass. The Tribe responded by driving for a score to go up 23-14 and position UMass coach Kevin Morris for some second-guessing.

Kevin Morris, UMass resilient in opener
By John Connolly / N.E. Football  |   Monday, September 6, 2010  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  College Football

Among the highlights of UMass' pulsating 27-23 upset victory Saturday against fourth-ranked William & Mary was the refusal of the young Minutemen, who featured 17 first-year performers, to roll over and play dead.

A telltale sign of that grit came during a fourth-and-2 play from the Tribe 7-yard line late in the third quarter of the season opener at McGuirk Stadium. UMass elected to go for it instead of kicking a field goal while trailing 16-14. The Minutemen botched the play on an illegal forward pass. The Tribe responded by driving for a score to go up 23-14 and position UMass coach Kevin Morris for some second-guessing.

The view from this corner: It was a smart early-season decision by Morris. By letting his young team know he was intent on going for the win at all costs, he infused the Minutemen with a much-needed boost of confidence, and let them know that he had their backs. UMass responded with a pair of late touchdowns on a 2-yard run by junior Jonathan Hernandez (132 yards, TD) and a 5-yard game-winner by senior John Griffin (80 yards, two TDs) to stun the visitors.

"That's what you want out of your squad," Morris said yesterday. "We could have packed our stuff. But I think the guys just like playing football. I had an idea they had it in them, but you never know until you get in the game. They came through it and did a great job.

"Our guys responded through a lot of adversity. We put ourselves in a bunch of different holes and had some unforced errors and penalties and such, but the true testament of the team was we came back after each one and came through with a big win."

Added senior quarterback Kyle Havens (15-of-24, 223 yards, TD): "The real testament to this team is to know you can make a mistake and everyone on this team is going to have your back, and know you're going to come back and make that next play. It's a real good feeling."

Two other factors that contributed to the conference win was UMass, picked to finish eighth in the CAA in the preseason coaches' poll, apparently has better conditioning and vastly underrated speed. By halftime, the Minutemen had 196 total yards on 36 plays; William & Mary 191 on 35 plays. At the finish, UMass had 438 yards on 76 plays; the Tribe 334 on 63.cw0cw0

"I think conditioning took a toll, but our guys seem to handle it well," Morris said. "I think we handled it better than they did."

The transfers also made their presences felt. Griffin was joined by fellow Northeastern transplants Greg Niland, a guard, and Chad Hunte, a linebacker, and ex-Syracuse offensive lineman Nick Speller and receiver Dan Sheeran, as well as Hofstra expatriate Anthony Nelson, a receiver (five catches, 78 yards) who beat double coverage to snare a beautifully thrown 36-yard TD from Havens.

So how did it feel to wear a different color jersey?

"A little different. A different offense. But, football is football to me. So, I'm just happy to be back in the pads," Griffin said.


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