Gazette: Havens Keeps His Game Face - UMass Athletics

Gazette: Havens Keeps His Game Face

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Matt Vautour in the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a feature story on UMass quarterback Kyle Havens and some of his superstitions. Havens has grown the beard back that he had at the beginning of season, when the Minutemen raced out to a 4-1 start.

Havens is a San Francisco Giants fan and a northern California native, where facial hair growth was a full-fledged fad in the Bay Area during the World Series in homage to Giants' closer Brian Wilson.

UMass QB keeps his game face

Kyle Havens claims not to be superstitious. But the University of Massachusetts senior quarterback has plenty of people around him who are, so he's playing along.

To keep teammates and family members at ease, Havens isn't changing anything that led to success for the Minutemen.

Important things like shoelaces and facial hair.

In Saturday's win over Maine, Havens still had pink shoelaces from the previous week's breast cancer awareness event. Havens liked the cause they represented, and the success he had in them.

"Let's just say I'm supporting breast cancer all the time and not just in October," he said. "They worked last week so I figured I'd just leave them in."

Havens has grown the beard back that he had at the beginning of season, when the Minutemen raced out to a 4-1 start.

"My dad said something to me about it. He wanted me to grow it back," Havens said. "I wanted to be clean shaven and professional looking. But a lot of my teammates were superstitious about it and my family was so I figured I'd grow it back. It's definitely been talked about."

Havens is a San Francisco Giants fan and a northern California native, where facial hair growth was a full-fledged fad in the Bay Area during the World Series in homage to Giants' closer Brian Wilson.

"I'm keeping with the Giants theme," he said laughing. "Fear the beard. ... A lot of guys get superstitious. (Saturday) night someone sat in the wrong place at dinner and someone said what are you doing. It's all fun and games. No one takes it too seriously but it's fun to go along with stuff like that."

But Havens' success this season has been about more than his feet and his face. Maine coach Jack Cosgrove said Havens' play is the reason the Minutemen are competing for a playoff spot this year after finishing 5-6 last year.

"The biggest difference from this year to last is how their quarterback is playing," Cosgrove said after watching Havens throw three TDs and no picks Saturday. "At the end of last year I think he had 15 interceptions and nine touchdowns. Right now I think he has five interceptions and 14 touchdowns. There's a big difference with his execution."

Havens is proud of the improvement.

"I'm more efficient this year. It helps us keep the offense on the field and the defense off the field," he said. "We put the defense in too many bad positions last year. We're not doing that this year."

UMass coach Kevin Morris is pleased at Havens' ability to avoid turning the ball over. Havens is averaging an interception per 54.4 passes, which is second in the CAA, after averaging one pick every 17.6 passes last year. "He's taking care of the football. He did a good job spreading it around," Morris said. "He has a great understanding of the offense and continues to mature in it."

HOLMES EARNS NATIONAL, CAA HONORS - UMass junior linebacker Tyler Holmes' two interception returns for touchdowns earned him not only the CAA's Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second straight week and the third time this season, but the Sports Network's co-National Defensive Player of the Week. He shared the award with Dayton's Dylan Langhorst, who had six sacks in the Flyers' win over Drake.

Holmes will see the CAA's three other award winners from this week in the Minutemen's final two regular season games.

Rhode Island quarterback Steve Probst was the league's offensive player of the week after completing 14 of 21 passes for 107 yards and rushing 18 times for 101 yards in the Rams' 17-14 upset of Villanova.

His teammate, defensive lineman Willie McGinnis,was the league's defensive player of the week after blocking a punt and recovering it in the end zone with two minutes left in the game.

Delaware freshman tailback Andrew Pierce continued to rack up CAA Rookie of the Week honors with his sixth in 10 weeks. He had 16 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns and cracked 1,000 yards this season along the way.

GAMES OF THE WEEK: Four of the five games this week have postseason implications:

New Hampshire (5-4, 3-3 CAA) at Villanova (6-3, 4-2 CAA), noon - A loss would knock New Hampshire out of the postseason picture while it would put Villanova in a difficult spot as VU would have to go to Delaware the following week needing a win to get in.

Delaware (8-1, 5-1 CAA) at UMass (6-3, 4-2 CAA), 1 p.m. - A win would make the Minutemen all but a lock for postseason, while a victory for the Blue Hens would keep them in contention for a league title and one of the top seeds.

William & Mary (7-2, 5-1 CAA) at James Madison (4-5, 1-5 CAA), 1:30 p.m. - The Tribe control their own destiny for winning the CAA championship and the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs that go with it. But injuries have the Tribe down to their fourth quarterback. If JMU can pull off the upset, the winner of UMass and Delaware will be very much in the running for the league title.

Rhode Island (4-5, 3-3 CAA) at Richmond (5-4, 3-3 CAA), 2 p.m. - Richmond needs a win to stay alive for a postseason bid. Rhode Island, which upset Villanova this week, is trying to keep hopes of a winning season alive.

POLL POSITIONING - The CAA has a team atop both top 25s, but not the same team. William & Mary is No. 1 in the Sports Network Top 25, while Delaware ascended to No. 1 in the FCS Coaches Poll after a weekend that saw the top three teams in both polls lose. Both the Tribe and Hens are No. 2 in the poll they aren't on top of.

UMass moved up two spots to No. 13 in the coaches poll and one spot to No. 14 in TSN. Villanova fell to No. 9 in both polls, while New Hampshire dropped to No. 15 (coaches) and No. 17 (TSN). Richmond is at No. 21 (TSN) and No. 23 (Coaches).

Information from personal interviews, newspaper articles and sports information releases was used in this report.

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