Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on how the success James Ihedigbo and Victor Cruz are having in the NFL has served as an inspiration and a blueprint to pro-football hopefuls Julian Talley and Tyler Holmes. Talley and Holmes are currently in Florida working out to prepare for various NFL scouting combines.
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.)
The Massachusetts football team has answered many questions regarding the switch from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Mid-Atlantic Conference, and on a larger scale, from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Although the conference switch is probably the biggest change to the program in recent memory, there is another glaring change which might have been overlooked thus far - the new-look 3-4 defensive scheme.
A day off Wednesday and the beginning of actual game preparation brought a little added energy in University of Massachusetts practice Thursday as the Minutemen put training camp in the rearview mirror and began preparation for their Sept. 1 opener at Holy Cross.
"We just got out of camp. Our legs are fresh off the break. Everybody is excited for game week No. 1," senior captain Tyler Holmes said. "I'm very excited to get into game week."
Junior center Quinton Sales agreed.
"It'll be good to face some different colored jerseys," he said. "When you get closer to a game, you can see the light. It's exciting, there's a little more energy."
And on the 20th day of preseason camp, the University of Massachusetts football team rested.
Nineteen straight days of running, blocking, throwing, catching, hitting, kicking and tackling each other has earned the Minutemen a well-deserved day of rest Wednesday as camp came to a close Tuesday.
"It went pretty good, the team obviously bonded well and all the practices went well and we built on everything," senior tight end and captain Emil Igwenagu said. "It is nice to finally get a day off to get our legs back, get treatment and take care of our bodies."
"For a lot of seniors, this could be our last time ever playing the game," said linebacker Tyler Holmes, a preseason All-America selection and the CAA preseason defensive player of the year. "Our attitude is positive, regardless of postseason play or anything like that. We've had great energy in preseason, and I'm just very excited waiting for the season."
Matt Vautour has a football notebook up today mentioning UMass being ranked No. 25 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 preseason Poll, Tyler Holmes and Emil Igwenagu being named team captains once again and a recap of several alums from NFL preseason training camps.
In its last season playing in the Championship Subdivision, the University of Massachusetts football team was ranked No. 25 in the Sports Network FCS Top 25 preseason poll, which was released Monday.
The Minutemen were one of seven Colonial Athletic Association teams ranked. They were picked fifth in the CAA preseason poll. Villanova and Richmond, which were ranked lower in the CAA poll, were above UMass in the national poll.
Two more CAA teams - Rhode Island and Maine - as well as Central Connecticut State, which UMass faces in nonconference play, were among the teams "also-receiving votes."
The Sporting News and Lindy's named their 2011 FCS Preseason All-American Teams will Tyler Holmes penciled in at linebacker on the First-Team Defense of both lists.
The senior is joined by Matt Evans of New Hampshire and Kadarron Anderson of Furman at the LB position on the TSN All-America Team. Evans, Holmes and Derek Rose of Northwestern State are the LB's on the Lindy's defensive first team.
While 2011 will be the last year of competition in the FCS for the University of Massachusetts Minutemen, they'll be able to rely on outstanding players like Tyler Holmes as they take on conference opponents one last time. The Minutemen captain was recently named the single best linebacker in the entire FCS as the upcoming 2011 season approaches. UMass's last season as an FCS team will also be Holmes's senior year, and while he won't be with them when the Minutemen join the FBS-level MAC in 2012, you can bet he'll make this last season one to remember. Read more...
After Wednesday's press conference, all talk about the University of Massachusetts football program naturally revolved around its future. But lost in the chatter and debate about Gillette Stadium, the Mid-American Conference, bowl games and exciting potential nonconference opponents were any thoughts about the present.
UMass junior linebacker Tyler Holmes finished fifth in the Buck Buchanan Award voting. He finished with 189 votes. Its the highest finish for a UMass player since Kole Ayi was also fifth in 2000.
A year after finishing runner-up in the Buck Buchanan Award voting, Eastern Washington's J.C. Sherritt reeled it in.
The voting was tight, but on Thursday night, Sherritt was named the 2010 winner of the defensive player of the year award in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Sports Network presents and Fathead.com sponsors the 16th annual Buchanan Award.
Sherritt, second last year to James Madison defensive end Arthur Moats (now a linebacker with the Buffalo Bills), captured 24 of the 130 first-place votes and 253 points. Wofford junior defensive end Ameet Pall and Western Illinois senior linebacker Kyle Glazier tied for second place with 234 points.
New Hampshire sophomore linebacker Matt Evans (203) and Massachusetts junior linebacker Tyler Holmes (189) rounded out the top five.
Tyler Holmes, a consistent success in the University of Massachusetts football team's inconsistent season, received a pair of significant honors on Monday.
Holmes was named the Colonial Athletic Association's co-Defensive Player of the Year along with Richmond linebacker Eric McBride.
Read about Holmes' honors and others in various stories:
Join us at the final regular-season Bud Light UMass Football Radio Show at the Hangar Pub & Grill at 7 p.m. Tonight's special guests alongside Coach Kevin Morris are All-American candidates linebacker Tyler Holmes and wide receiver Anthony Nelson. If you have a question for Coach Morris, ask it below or listen on 100.9 FM and 1510 AM in Boston
The Boston Herald has a Monday story on Tyler Holmes and his record-setting day for UMass after he picked off two passes and returned them for touchdowns.
"They kept throwing the ball to the flat, so I wanted to get in good position. I read off the quarterback's intention and made a good break on the ball. I was surprised, especially on the first one," said Holmes, who joined Jerard White (1996-99) and Anton McKenzie (2000-03) as the only UMass players to have two interception returns for TDs in a career. "The second one, I was kind of the free player in the zone, reading off the quarterback's eyes and got a good jump on the ball. It provided great momentum and tremendous energy for my team.
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.
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.
At the unofficial midway point of the season, the Massachusetts football team has been a modest surprise.
After losing multiple seniors and starters from last year's squad, UMass has had a successful first half en route to a 4-1 record entering its bye week.
The Minutemen are climbing in the rankings, despite staying put at No. 8 in the latest polls following a 27-14 victory over Towson on Saturday.
As the seconds ticked down in his hometown of Blacksburg, Va., University of Massachusetts linebacker Tyler Holmes' phone began to blow up.
He and the rest of the Minutemen finished beating Holy Cross, 31-7, last Saturday afternoon when word arrived about a potential upset in Virginia.
James Madison, a Football Championship Subdivision school that, like UMass is a Colonial Athletic Association member, was closing in on becoming the second lower-division school to beat a ranked Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, then-No. 13 Virginia Tech.
Despite the recent success of FCS (formerly Division I-AA) teams against FBS (I-A) opponents -- the lower division had six wins over the upper division in the first two weeks of the season -- seeing the Hokies go down, 21-16, to JMU was stunning.
For Massachusetts linebacker Tyler Holmes, preseason honors are all well and good, but leading the defense in his first year as team captain is a more exciting notion.
The Blacksburg, Va. native has been garnering a lot of attention in the offseason and for good reason. As a true sophomore last season, Holmes led the Minutemen in tackles with 11 per game, interceptions with four and passes defended with nine. His 110 tackles also ranked second in the Colonial Athletic Association and eighth in NCAA. For his efforts, he was named to the 2009 CAA All-Conference Second Team.
Coming to the University of Massachusetts as a freshman in 2008, Tyler Holmes was a recruited walk-on football player. That soon changed.
Holmes' hard-nosed play soon convinced the coaching staff to offer him a scholarship. As a junior, his role and his status is still growing.
"When you get to know him, Tyler is a very positive kid who works hard every day," UMass defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski said as Holmes and UMass prepared to hit the national stage Saturday at Michigan.
The University of Massachusetts football players were following the game before the start of their game Saturday. UMass coach Kevin Morris was glad to see the Dukes deliver the upset, but didn't think it would affect his team's attempt to pull off a similar upset Saturday when the Minutemen travel to Michigan for a noon game at the Big House.
"It doesn't have any bearing on our game. We wish it did, but we have to go out and do our own work," he said. "We're going out and will have a great opportunity to play a fantastic team in Michigan."
Tyler Holmes, UMass' leading tackler last year, has had a knack for big plays. With Holy Cross rarely running the ball Saturday, there were minimal opportunities for linebackers to rack up tackle numbers.
Join us at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday for the UMass Sports Luncheon at the Campus Center's Massachusetts Room 1009. The guest speakers today are Athletic Director John McCutcheon, football coach Kevin Morris and men's soccer coach Sam Koch.
Also, the Co-Athletes of the Week from the football team, Tyler Holmes and Jonathan Hernandez will be honored for their big games in the 27-23 win over William & Mary on Saturday.
In the Springfield Republican, there is a follow-up story on UMass football and the second-half adjustments the Minutemen made to pull off the big win over #4 William & Mary.
"We kind of regrouped in the second half," preseason All-American linebacker Tyler Holmes said. "We knew in the first half it was just poor tackling. We just needed to settle down a little bit and not let him get out of the pocket. (UMass coach Kevin) Morris came in and told us, 'settle down, it's still our game to win.'"
As training camp ended Thursday, University of Massachusetts junior captain Tyler Holmes declared the preseason a success as the Minutemen switched to fulltime preparation for their Sept. 4 opener at home against William & Mary.
"I think we had a very successful camp," Holmes said. "A lot of guys stepped up big and we're going to need them to keep doing that through the season."
CAA Media Day was a great event with a strong showing from the media both regionally and nationally including USA Today and Sports Network. Rising juniors Tyler Holmes and Emil Igwenagu enjoyed themselves meeting with commissioner Tom Yeager as well as coaches and players from the other nine teams in the CAA. Here are video interviews with Holmes and Igwenagu as well as head coach Kevin Morris. The Minuteman contingent was lucky enough to catch and early flight back to Bradley Airport and return to campus around 5:30 p.m.
CAA Football Media Day takes place today at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. UMass preseason All-CAA selections Emil Igwenagu and Tyler Holmes are joining head coach Kevin Morris in the Charm City. Check back for updates all day long.
Watch Tyler and Emil's video welcome to Media Day.