Aug. 27, 2014
Listen to Whipple's MAC weekly teleconference from Monday, Aug. 25
AMHERST, Mass. -
University of Massachusetts football head coach Mark Whipple
talked to the media during the MAC weekly teleconference on Monday, Aug. 25 ahead of the season-opener against Boston College at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, on Saturday, Aug. 30. Whipple discussed quarterback Blake Frohnapfel
and what he brings to the program as a graduate student and coaching against long-time friends in Steve Addazio and Don Brown during the teleconference. Below is a complete transcript.
On the week ahead as UMass prepares to face Boston College:
Boston College head] coach Steve Addazio and I go way back and [Boston College defensive coordinator and linebackers] coach Don Brown and I have worked together at a couple places and are great friends. We know each other and they are a solid ACC team that is aggressive on defense. They have a transfer quarterback from Florida, Tyler Murphy, who started six games last year and overall are an experienced group that is solid all across. We have our hands full.
On how big of a game UMass-Boston College is within the New England region:
Background on what you see & feel from the conference as you begin your first time around:
BC will be excited. Good walkthrough last week at Gillette, got a chance to feel the place out, a lot of our kids had not been there yet. We have to take care of the ball on offense and convert first downs while not giving up big plays on defense. I know they are going to try to run the ball - they have some strong running backs skill-wise and BC always has a great offense line. We will know a lot about ourselves at the end of the first quarter. We have had a great camp and the guys have gotten better. I have seen great improvements since the first day of spring. Are we ready to play at an ACC level? We will find out. It's a tough opener, but one our guys will be excited about.
The MAC has great coaches, ones that know the organization. We are really excited to be a part of it. `MACtion' has been a big thing and I am looking forward to getting into the MAC schedule. We face Boston College and Colorado at home and go to Vanderbilt and Penn State so we will be ready for MAC teams after those four. I think the league has great players and history. I was fortunate to coach Ben Roethlisberger with the Steelers and he had a lot of pride in the MAC. There are a lot of great players who have come out of here and I got to see at the next level. I see those types of players right now as I look through the league. We are excited about the challenge ahead come the end of this month.
On working with Boston College defensive coordinator Don Brown at UMass for two seasons from 1998-99:
Don and I go way back to when I was at New Haven and he was at Yale and we scrimmaged against each other. They would come over to us in the spring or we would go over there. He is just a great person, a great football coach and a tremendous family guy. We go back to when he asked me to call Plymouth State for him, I told the AD if I had the chance I would hire him back. I had that chance at Brown and we had a lot of success at Brown. We had fun at UMass and then we coached against each other when I was at Miami (Fla.) and he was at Maryland. It's one of those things where it'd be great to see him beforehand but it'll be better after this game. It isn't an easy thing because he is a great football coach and we grew together quite a bit. We played off of each other well, had fun and won a national championship. It'll be a challenge. I don't know if playing them in the first game is best or if playing them later on would be, it will always be a challenge. It never mattered what sidelines we were standing across from each other on, that goes back to all the practices we had. I'm looking forward to seeing him.
On having any concerns about the multiplicity of what Don Brown does on defense:
We have a really good relationship - it's like playing golf together. He wants to win and I want to win but afterwards we will give each other a hug and we will talk more over the rest of the season. I like watching his defense play. They are aggressive, they have fun and they never take a play off. They play defense the way I like to coach offense. They are fun to watch. It'll be interesting come 3 p.m. on Saturday.
On what Blake Frohnapfel brings to the UMass program at quarterback:
Blake is a tremendous person. He has tremendous leadership qualities. He is driven and is a smart, analytical person. What convinced me that he was a perfect fit was that he wanted to be a quarterback. In high school he was receiving scholarship offers to play as a defensive back but he wanted to play quarterback. We have given him the chance to be the leader of this program and he has accepted it and taken off with it. Now he has his chance. We are lucky to have him for two years. I am getting to know him and he has done well in the scrimmages. Now we get to game day, he has to get to know me and I need to learn what he likes and doesn't like. I am excited about this opportunity to coach him.
On how college football has changed between his first tenure as head coach at UMass (1998-2003) and now:
For us, we have new facilities at 55,000 square feet have made camp much better. We are in air conditioning, which we didn't have before. The locker rooms have been updated and the classrooms and auditorium are there for teaching. For UMass, it has made a big difference. This is one of the best camps I have been around because it was very functional and worked well. Overall in college football you are seeing more spread offenses and turf fields. We used to have a mud field here at McGuirk. The game is faster and the skill level is high. The coaching is something to behold as well when you look around at what is happening. People are doing a lot more than they used to do with the same fundamentals and discipline you need to be successful.