Jeff Thomas of the Springfield Republican has an update on Kellen Pagel's return after missing the Villanova game due to injury. He also takes a look at the impact of Shane Vivieros' return to the defense in the recent weeks.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a notebook covering several aspects of the UMass football team this week including an update on Jerome Lewis' injury at practice yesterday, Tom Gilson being named as a team captain for Saturday, an update on some special alums to be in attendance at Gillette and a look at the schedule of events for the Colonial Clash.
As you get prepped to follow tonight's game at Old Dominion, here are several previews of the match-up. This will be the first-ever CAA game at Ballard Stadium and will also be "Black Out" night for Monarch fans.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has coverage of UMass' announced 2012 non-conference football schedule which includes a return trip to Michigan in addition to the previously announced games against UConn, Indiana, and Vanderbilt.
It was a tough day for the Minutemen yesterday at Boston College with the Eagles coming away with a 45-17 win. One bright spot for UMass was the play of Jesse Julmiste who set a new school record in kickoff return yardage (252) bolstered by a 100-yard return for a touchdown.
Jim Fenton of the Brockton Enterprise looks at the connection between former Brockton High School players in this Saturday's UMass-Boston College game. UMass starting safety Darren Thellen is a former Brockton standout and will be matched up against some of his former teammates.
Frank Dell'Apa of the Boston Globe has a preview of Saturday's game at Boston College focusing on the confidence built from past performances against FBS programs, including last year's narrow loss at Michigan.
But this is a new era for football at UMass, which will move up to the Bowl Subdivision next season and join the Mid-American Conference. Narrow defeats at Navy (21-20, in 2006), Kansas State (21-17, in 2009), and Michigan (42-37, in 2010) indicate UMass can compete at the next level.
"In the last two years, in particular those games against Kansas State and Michigan, we certainly had our chances in big-time atmospheres,'' Morris said. "Our players haven't played at Boston College but as a staff we have, and we know what to expect from Boston College football. We'll be ready to go. On paper, they are our best opponent, the strongest team we'll play.
"If you go by the Michigan, Kansas State, and Navy games, those are good indicators of where you are as a program. I think we're a very competitive program but we still haven't recruited a truly FBS recruiting class. We're going to go out and play and compete with anybody we play against and our goal is to win the game."
Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald looks at the impact UMass' game at Boston College will have this weekend in light of the Minutemen's transition to the FBS level. The "introductory" to the Eastern Mass fans will be especially important with the Minutemen's future home being Gillette Stadium beginning next season.
You don't think the stakes are huge this weekend for UMass? Beginning in 2012 and continuing through at least 2013, the Minutemen will be playing their "home" games at Gillette Stadium. This means the Boston sports market will have two competing 1-A football programs.
That makes Saturday's date with Boston College the biggest game of the year. Call it an introductory offer for Boston sports fans. Or, a Whitman Sampler of UMass football. (Better still, and in homage to the UMass administration building, a Whitmore Sampler.)
UMass football coach Kevin Morris spoke with the media on Monday morning on the weekly CAA Football Teleconference. Morris previews the upcoming game against Rhode Island and talks about the Rams' tough loss at Syracuse last week.
The Colonial Athletic Association held its annual Football Media Day on Wednesday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. UMass Head Coach Kevin Morris, senior linebacker Tyler Holmes, and senior wide receiver Julian Talley all took part in the festivities. Two hours of Media Day was broadcasted live online at ESPN3.com.
It appears gone are the days of UMass football home games at 1 p.m., or even noon when daylight savings time hits.
The Minutemen released the times for most of their games for 2011 and just one of the four games at McGuirk Alumni Stadium is scheduled to begin at 1. The rest will put to use the lights.
The home opener against Rhode Island (9/17) will be at 6:30 and Central Connecticut (10/8) will be at 6. The 3:30 start for the Villanova game on November 5 will need the lights on before it is settled.
Fittingly, the final game of the Football Championship Subdivision for UMass will be at the 1 p.m. time slot against James Madison on Nov. 19.
The only game time unscheduled is the September 24 game at Boston College.
The Colonial Athletic Association media day next week will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
The July 27 affair will be held at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. The CAA claims it is the first broadcast of its kind for FCS and will feature interviews with coaches and players over a two-hour period.
When you start to make a case that the CAA isn't the best FCS conference, you can't. About seven of the 11 CAA teams warrant Top 25 consideration heading into the season, so the conference's depth is enough to keep it on top.
Following is a conference-by-conference ranking across the FCS:
1. CAA Football - Old Dominion would seem to be entering the conference at the right time - perhaps it's a down year? - but the reality is, there are few breathers in the CAA schedule in any season. William & Mary is back to being a national title contender after what it hopes was a hiccup in last year's playoffs, when they lost their first game at home as the No. 2 seed. Delaware suffered some big-time seniors, but it still has head coach K.C. Keeler, and that means a lot. Either Richmond, New Hampshire or Massachusetts (ineligible for the conference title or FCS playoffs as it gets set to move to the FBS next year) will likely give the conference a third outstanding team, and retooling Villanova, which probably lost the nation's best senior class, and an improved James Madison, with returning quarterback Justin Thorpe, will cause a lot of headaches and perhaps make the playoffs. Yes, it's foolish to doubt this conference.
The CAA released its 2011 Football Season Preview yesterday. The preview contains information on all 11 teams along with a composite schedule, in-depth stats for the league, and links to YouTube Videos.
Boston College announced its 2011 football schedule, which includes a date with UMass on Sept. 24 at Alumni Stadium. There is no timetable for the official release of the full 2011 UMass football slate.
This game looks a lot harder than it did at the beginning of the season.
A lot more important, too.
The University of Massachusetts football team will play at Rhode Island Saturday, needing a victory to retain hope of a postseason berth. The Minutemen (6-4, 4-3 Colonial Athletic Association) would not be assured a spot by winning, but a 7-4 record would make a very strong case.
Read Matt Vautour's fascinating story about the FCS playoff picture in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. He got an inside glimpse of how some of the discussions might go among the NCAA committee from UMass Athletic Director John McCutcheon, who served on the committee for the last five years.
On GazetteNet.com, Matt Vautour has a comprehensive look at the playoff picture for FCS Football with a breakdown of all the teams in and on the bubble for this Sunday's selection. It is a great source of information.
The Boston Herald takes a look at UMass and its football game vs. No. 1 Delaware on Saturday.
"Delaware is leading the league in wins, so if we play well then we'll be rewarded," said UMass coach Kevin Morris. "Their run-and-pass combination is real strong and their quarterback (Pat Devlin) will probably be the player of the year based on his play so far. Defensively, they've played consistently well."
With a win already over the No. 1 team in one poll, the UMass will try to knock off the top team in the other when it hosts Delaware on Saturday. The Blue Hens ascended to No. 1 in the FCS Coaches Poll Monday after the top three teams all lost last week. Delaware is No. 2 behind William & Mary in the Sports Network top 25. The Minutemen upset W&M, 27-23, in the first game of the season.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette has a wonderful feature story on the Hunte twin brothers. Chad of UMass and Kyle of Delaware will be on opposite sidelines for the first time as their teams battle on Saturday.
"When we decided to go to different schools we talked about it. We knew we were going to play each other," Chad said. "It's been a big week for us. In our town everyone is talking about it. It's a little different. We've always been together. But at the same time its good for us. I'm definitely glad the game is here. When it's over it's going to be bad for one of us. ... Hopefully him."
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.
Look at the game recaps from UMass' 39-24 win over Maine on Saturday. Tyler Holmes made history with a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns in the win. He is the first UMass player to achieve the feat in a game and a season.
In the more than 100-year-old football rivalry between the Universities of Massachusetts and Maine, the Minutemen have held a comfortable advantage. They'll take a 40-15-1 series lead into Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game at McGuirk Stadium.
But the last two meetings between the New England rivals have been sore spots for the Minutemen.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette has its weekly CAA notebook leading off with pair of honors for UMass' Blacksburg natives. Junior linebacker and captain Tyler Holmes was the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week, while place kicker/punter Caleb Violette was the special teams' player of the week.
Also of interest, Vautour mentions how UMass' past two head coach will oppose each other this Saturday:
WHIPPLE vs. BROWN - UMass' previous two football coaches will square off against each other this weekend when Miami hosts Maryland. Mark Whipple, who led the Minutemen to the 1998 Division I-AA Championship, is the Hurricanes' offensive coordinator, while Don Brown, who led UMass to the 2006 FCS title game, is the Terrapins' defensive coordinator.
There were quite a few UMass connections in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday in Miami's 24-19 loss to Virginia. Former UMass reserve quarterback Spencer Whipple, Mark's son, saw action for the 'Canes. When starting quarterback Jacory Harris was injured, Spencer Whipple played the remainder of the first half. He struggled completing 2 of 6 passes and was intercepted twice before being lifted for freshman Stephen Morris. On the other sideline, Virginia's head coach is Mike London, the father of former UMass standout wide receiver Brandon London. His defensive coordinator is Jim Reid, who was the head coach at UMass from 1986-1991.
The UMass football team is now ranked No. 15 in the Sports Network poll. The Minutemen moved up three spots in this week's poll. No. 3, Villanova, No. 4 William & Mary, No.5 Delaware, No. 8 New Hampshire are in the top 10.
UMass is also No. 15 in the FCS Coaches Poll. The top CAA teams have the same rankings in both polls.
Coaches tend to avoid calling one win bigger than another, but Kevin Morris knew this one was very special.
"I won't rate it (against others), but it was definitely one we needed,'' the University of Massachusetts football coach said after Saturday's 21-14 win at James Madison.
"We try to stay away from the highs and lows. Everybody had been a little frustrated, so (the coaches) just wanted them to enjoy the competition and refocus.''
Here are various stories on the James Madison football team.
Lacking healthy defensive linemen for last Saturday's game at Villanova, James Madison's football team looked to a player whose season once appeared to be over. Junior defensive tackle Max Alexandre suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a knee during spring practice in April, prompting JMU to announce that he would miss the 2010 season.
The team has slumped after a fast start, and takes a 4-3 record into Saturday.
The offense has moved the ball, but penalties have hurt. The coach says the mood remains positive.
Sounds just like the University of Massachusetts, right? But the description applies to James Madison, too.
"We're 4-3, but we played some good football teams and we have some good wins,'' Dukes coach Mickey Matthews told media this week in the lead-up to Saturday's UMass-James Madison game at Harrisonburg, Va.
"It's not like we're having pity parties on Sunday. All the kids are good.''
As the calendar nears November, the chatter about who will and won't get into the Championship Subdivision playoffs is getting louder.
While his team is still in the mix despite two tough losses in its last two games, University of Massachusetts coach Kevin Morris is trying not to focus on the postseason as his team gets set to head south for Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game at James Madison.
After losing to Richmond 11-10 and getting routed by New Hampshire 39-13, Morris said the Minutemen are focused on recapturing what launched them to a 4-1 start to open the season.
"This week is all about coming out with an attitude and enjoying playing football. The kids have been good. I think they're over it. They came out ready to move on. The Richmond thing didn't go our way at the end and against UNH we didn't play well at all. Let's shake that off and start anew and let's go," Morris said. "Guys are tired of being frustrated. Let's go out and play. This week is all about us and playing our brand of football. It's been very positive."
Check out this great story from Fan House on the success of CAA in the FCS. There are several mentions of UMass including comment from head coach Kevin Morris.
"We're always open to finding the best kids that are going to help UMass football," Minutemen coach Kevin Morris said. "Character is a big issue for us. We want to fully vet each kid and make sure we got the kid we want in the program, in the locker room and on campus. And obviously, athletically does he fit a need for us and does he make us better? All these guys want to come in and play right away."
After his team faced its first true adversity of the season in Saturday's 11-10 loss to Richmond, University of Massachusetts football coach Kevin Morris was optimistic about how his team will bounce back this weekend.
"We've shown the maturity to be able to come back and win in the fourth quarter," said Morris, citing his team's three come-from-behind wins. "Now it's a whole different question. But with the same maturity in mind, can we bounce back from a game that we should have won and come back with a real strong contest and win the following week? It's another test."
Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game against New Hampshire at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough figures to be an easy game for both teams to get motivated for. Any game in the Patriots' stadium is a big one. As is any game against rival New Hampshire. Add in the fact that it can significantly impact the Colonial Athletic Association standings as well as both teams'
The pre-game focus for this year's University of New Hampshire vs. Massachusetts football game has understandably been on the venue. For the first time ever, Gillette Stadium will host a college football game, and the Patriots' brass chose this long-standing New England rivalry.
But once 3:30 p.m. rolls around and all the alumni functions, tailgating and honorary coin-flipping is over, it will boil down to two Colonial Athletic Association teams that need a win and can ill afford another conference loss.
From the New Hampshire perspective, here are several stories on the Colonial Clash:
Whatever festive backdrop was attached to Saturday's University of Massachusetts football game at Gillette Stadium has been replaced by a sense of urgency. With Richmond's stunning, last-second 11-10 win over UMass last weekend, the Minutemen's upcoming Colonial Athletic Association game against New Hampshire has showcase trappings but a must-win reality.
"Anytime you lose the way we did, you get the kids' attention,'' UMass coach Kevin Morris said Monday. "(The team says) that can't happen, it should have never happened. But it did happen. We need to stand up and fight and finish. You throw in that we're playing UNH, a great rivalry game every year, and at Foxborough, and nobody is sleeping through this one.''
Heading into the Colonial Clash, here are a few nuggets of information.
UMass At NFL Stadiums • The last time the UMass football team played a game at an NFL stadium come on Nov. 2, 1991, as the Minutemen beat Northeastern as Foxboro Stadium, 27-12. That game was a home game for Northeastern and drew a crowd of 4,620.
• The previous other known game that UMass football played at an NFL Stadium -- while it was in use by the NFL -- came on Sept. 28, 1968, when UMass lost at the University of Buffalo, 23-0 at Buffalo War Memorial Stadium, affectionately known as the "Rockpile." It was home to the Buffalo Bills from 1960-72 and also was where "The Natural" with Robert Redford was filmed.
• Prior to that, UMass played games at Nickerson Field, against Boston University for many years. Nickerson was home to the AFL's Boston Patriots from 1960-62 and the NFL's Boston Braves in 1932.
• The last UMass team in any sport to play at an NFL Stadium came in 2006 as the men's lacrosse team played in the NCAA Championship and Semifinals at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Minutemen played in front of a then-lacrosse record crowd of 49,562 on May 27, 2006 in a Final Four win over Maryland. Two days later 47,062 watched UMass fall in the championship game to Virginia.
Largest Crowds For FCS Games • Saturday's game at Gillette Stadium is sure to be a new record for a crowd to watch a UMass football game against an FCS team. The largest crowd to watch UMass play an FCS opponent came in the 2006 NCAA Semifinals at Montana. A crowd of 23,454 watched UMass upset the Grizzlies, 19-17 and advance to the National Championship Game.
• The largest regular-season crowds to watch UMass in FCS action have all come at Delaware, which has one of the largest seating capacities in FCS. The most to see the Minutemen in the regular season came on Oct. 22, 1988, when 22,301 watch them lose at Delaware, 10-7. There have been several other crowds at Delaware of more than 22,000 to watch UMass.
• Overall, the largest crowd to ever watch UMass came earlier this season at Michigan, when 110,187 watch UMass narrowly fall at Michigan Stadium on Sept. 18, 2010.
The UMass football team now stands 12th in the Sports Network Poll. New Hampshire comes in at No. 11. The CAA still has six teams in the Top 12: No. 2 Delaware, No. 4 William & Mary, No. 6 Villanova, No. 10 New Hampshire, No. 11 James Madison and No. 12 UMass. Richmond is also at No. 16.
In the FCS Coaches Poll, UMass is also No. 12 with UNH coming in at No. 9. From the CAA, here are the rankings: No. 2 Delaware, No. 5 William & Mary, No. 6 Villanova, No. 9 UNH, No. 11 James Madison, No. 12 UMass, No. 15 Richmond.
According to a story in The Day in Connecticut, UMass football will be playing at UConn on Aug. 30, 2012 to open that season. The game will mark the first meeting between the old Yankee Conference rivals since the Huskies moved to FBS football in 2000. UMass beat UConn in the last game between the teams in 1999, by the score of 62-20 on Nov. 20.
After a bye week, the UMass football team remains at No. 8 in the Sports Network Poll. This week's foe Richmond is at No. 20. The CAA has seven teams in the Top 20 with five in the Top 8: No. 2 Delaware, No. 4 William & Mary, No. 6 Villanova, No. 7 James Madison, No. 8 UMass, No. 16 New Hampshire and No. 20 Richmond. Click below to see the entire poll.
The Minutemen are also still at No. 8 in the FCS Coaches Poll, as the entire Top 10 stayed the same. Richmond is No. 19. Again, click below to see this entire poll.
As UMass comes off the bye week, Kevin Morris took part in this morning's CAA teleconference. Listen to the coach's thoughts on the Spiders, who lost their starting quarterback Aaron Corp to a season-ending knee injury in Saturday's 17-0 loss at New Hampshire. Listen here: Oct. 11 - Teleconference
From the Richmond perspective, listen to Spiders first-year head man Latrell Scott:
The Daily Hampshire Gazette has a notebook on UMass football. Matt Vautour's story leads off with how well UMass' season has started.
"We're evolving as a squad and maturing as a team. Am I happy at this point? Yeah. We've played well enough to win games. We didn't win the Michigan game, but had some positives come out of that game," UMass coach Kevin Morris said Monday. "We're excited about where we are. But we have a long way to go and it's all CAA games from here on out. We have to continue to grind. We're happy where we're at. I like the team, but we have a lot of room for improvement. I think that's a good thing."
Here are some other college football notebooks from around the country. Lots of mentions of UMass in these articles.
Even after a win over CAA foe Towson, the UMass football team remains at No. 8 in both Sports Network media poll and the FCS Coaches Poll. From the CAA, seven teams are ranked: No. 2 Delaware, No. 4 William & Mary (who UMass has defeated), No. 6 Villanova, No. 7 James Madison, No. 8 Massachusetts, No. 11 Richmond and No 22 New Hampshire. Maine and Rhode Island also are receiving votes.
The Daily Collegian has this preview of the UMass at Towson football game on Saturday night.
After beginning the season with a win against William & Mary, then playing three out-of-conference games against Holy Cross, Michigan and Stony Brook, UMass coach Kevin Morris is noticing not only a shift in the schedule, but in his team's focus as well.
"This is back into league play and every game is critical," Morris said. "Every game in the league is going to be extremely difficult, especially on the road."
The Daily Hampshire Gazette's Matt Vautour has his weekly CAA Notebook with a look to how the league's altered schedule might benefit UMass. The Minutemen are the only team in the league not playing defending NCAA Champion Villanova.
The University of Massachusetts football team couldn't quite finish off its upset bid at Michigan, but the Minutemen's performance in the 42-37 loss earned them respect from voters in both Championship Subdivision top 25s.
The Minutemen, who were unranked in both polls to open the season, jumped six spots to No. 9 in the FCS Coaches Poll and five spots to No. 11 in the Sports Network Media Poll.
"Week to week you're either getting better or you're getting worse. I think we're a better football team coming out of that football game than we were going in," UMass coach Kevin Morris said Monday.