#14 UMass Faces Defending NCAA Champ #1 Richmond
Oct. 20, 2009
#14/16 UMass (4-2, 2-1) at #1/1 Richmond (6-0, 4-0)
#14 UMass Faces Defending NCAA Champ #1 Richmond
The game pits two of the four CAA conference members ever to win a National Championship as UMass claimed the crown in 1998 and Richmond achieved it a decade later, last December. UMass and Richmond are two of the three winningest programs in the CAA over the last five years as well with the Spiders posting a league-best 45-14 record and UMass right behind with a 41-16 mark. UMass has the best mark over the last decade of all CAA teams with a 75-40 record for a 65.2 win percentage. Richmond is sixth on the list over the last 10 years with a 66-50 record.
UMass Vs. The #1 Team
Playing The Defending Champs
UMass lost the 2006 NCAA Championship game to the 2005 title winner Appalachian State, 28-17 in Chattanooga.
On Sept. 25, 2004, UMass dropped a 21-7 decision to Delaware in the first-ever meeting of A-10/CAA teams to have captured the national title as UMass won it in 1998.
The first time UMass played a reigning champion was when Youngstown State came to Amherst on Nov. 12, 1994 and won, 28-9.
UMass' Success Vs. Top 5 Teams
Dating to 1998, UMass is 9-7 in 16 games vs. Top 5 teams.
Last week's game at home was the first visit by a Top 5 opponent to McGuirk Stadium since 2005 when then-#4 New Hampshire came to Amherst and beat No. 7 UMass, 34-28 on Oct. 29. Since 2002, UMass is 5-2 at home against Top 5 games winning four times from 2002-05.
With a match-up against #4 UNH last week and the game at current #1 Richmond this week in Virginia, the Minutemen are playing teams ranked in the Top 5 in back-to-back weeks in the regular-season for the first time since 2002 when UMass knocked off #2 Maine and #4 Villanova on Oct. 12 and 19 in consecutive weeks.
UMass played #1 and #2 in consecutive weeks in the 2006 NCAA postseason, beating second-ranked Montana, 19-17 in the Semifinals before falling to the top-ranked Appalachian State in the NCAA Final, 28-17.
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The Series: UMass vs. Richmond
UMass has won three of the last five meetings and five of the last nine.
Richmond began its current 15-game overall win streak with its win over UMass last season and has not lost in more than a year since Oct. 11, 2008.
Richmond posted a 30-15 win last season as UMass welcomed back members of its 1998 National Championship team on homecoming on Oct. 18, 2008.
The visiting team leads the series in the opposition's stadium. UMass leads the all-time series in Richmond, 8-4, winning the last two games in 2005 (19-6) and 2002 (34-13). At McGuirk, the Spiders hold a 6-5 edge after last season's win.
Among the memorable games in the series history was the 1987 game, a 52-51 Richmond win in four overtimes. It stands as the longest game in UMass history. It was equalled by the four-overtime win over Villanova two years ago, 32-24 on Oct. 13, 2007.
Connections Between UMass/Richmond
UMass features four players from the state of Virginia including Richmond native junior cornerback Ke'Mon Bailey along with fellow Virginia residents: sophomore LB Tyler Holmes (Blacksburg), senior WR Joe Sanford (Charlottesville) and redshirt freshman punter Caleb Violette (Blacksburg, Va.).
UMass Football History Thumbnail
UMass has the winningest program in the CAA since 1998. UMass has a 84-44 record with a 65.6 win percentage. Over the last 10 years (since 2000), UMass has the best win percentage as well with a 65.2 mark and a 75-40 record.
The Minutemen have won 22 conference championships the last two coming in 2007 and 2008. All-time UMass has eight NCAA Tournament appearances winning the 1998 title and also playing in the championship game in 2006 and 1978.
UMass has three current NFL players: former linebacker Jeremy Cain (UMass 2000-03) with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a long snapper, safety James Ihedigbo (UMass 2003-06) with the New York Jets, running back Matt Lawrence (2005-07) with the Baltimore Ravens.
UMass In The Polls
UMass Dominating FCS & CAA Foes
Overall since the 2006 opener, UMass is 34-11 overall (75.6), with four losses to FBS teams (Navy, Boston College, Texas Tech and Kansas State).
The Minutemen are 21-6 in conference games over the last three seasons (77.8 win percentage). The Minutemen finished at 7-1 in the CAA in 2007 and were undefeated in league in 13 games in a row prior to a loss to Rhode Island on Nov. 3, 2007. UMass went 8-0 in conference in 2006 (becoming the first undefeated team in league since Villanova in 1997).
The Maroon & White opened 2009 season with three convincing wins: 44-7 over Albany (9/12), 30-10 over Rhode Island (9/19) and 44-17 over Stony Brook (9/26). UMass followed up with a 23-17 win over #4 New Hampshire (10/17) to pick up its biggest win of the season.
UMass went undefeated at home in 2006 (8-0) and 2007 (6-0) before a 4-2 mark last season. Before losing at home to Richmond (10/18/08), UMass' 16-game home winning streak was the second-longest in FCS as only San Diego (28) had a longer one. In all of Division I football, it was tied for the third-longest streak, also behind Oklahoma (21).
Since the start of the 1998 season, the Minutemen have gone 58-13 (.816) at home over the last 12 years, improving their all-time record at McGuirk to 164-74-2 (.688).
Since Kevin Morris came to UMass with the majority of the coaching staff in 2004, UMass is 29-5 at home, 85.3 win mark. Since 2003, UMass is 36-5 at home (87.8).
UMass Turns To Havens
In first six starts at UMass, Havens has thrown for 1,456 yards and eight touchdowns and completed 56 percent (104-of-186).He ranks third in the CAA in total offense (237.5) and eighth in passing efficiency (126.2).
Havens has been strong over the last five games and earned numerous honors after his big game against Rhode Island (9/19). Over the last five games, Havens has completed 94-of-152 (62 percent) for 1,354 yards (171 per game) and seven touchdowns.
In UMass' three consecutive wins (Sept.12-26), he has completed 54-of-86 (63 percent) for 872 yards and four touchdowns. Versus URI, he threw for 329 yards on 22-of-30 and two TDs. Was 15-of-17 for 206 in the first half alone. That performance earned him the New England Gold Helmet as the region's top player, CAA Offensive Player of the Week and UMass Athlete of the Week.
Havens had a great game in his home debut against Albany (9/12) as he threw for 284 yards on 20-of-32 with two touchdowns. Havens hit Victor Cruz for two scores including a 67-yard bomb. In his debut Havens threw for 102 yards with a touchdown to Andrew Krevis.
Havens was a star quarterback at Diablo Valley College in California for the past two seasons as he was named to the NorCal All-Conference team. Havens was named an Academic All-American after throwing for 301.7 yards per game along with 27 TDs and 13 interceptions last year. His team averaged 425 yards of offense per game and 36 points per game.
Nelson Up For Payton Award
Last year, Nelson was an All-CAA First Team Selection gaining 1,325 yards and 12 touchdowns. UMass has had a 1,000-yard rusher for seven years in a row with R.J. Cobbs in 2002, Steve Baylark from 2003-06 and Matt Lawrence in 2007.
Nelson has moved to sixth in career rushing yards with 2,421 yards. He passed Jerome Bledsoe (2,216) with 77 yards against Albany (9/12). He passed Kevin Smellie (2,148) at Kansas State with his 107. With another 1,000-yard season, we could move to No. 5 on the all-time list. Nelson is also tied for 11th in career rushing touchdowns with 18 (two this season). He is also eighth in career carries at UMass with 468. Next on that list is longtime NFL quarterback Greg Landry (485).
Nelson was first in the CAA in rushing yards per game prior to the New Hampshire (10/17) game when he gained just two yards in limited action. He slipped to third in the CAA with a mark of 75.4. Jonathan Hernandez is right behind with 68 yards per game.
Nelson had his ninth-career 100-yard rushing game against Rhode Island (9/19) with 158 yards on 29 carries. It was also his sixth-career game with more than 150 yards on the ground.
In the opener at Kansas State (9/5), Nelson became the first UMass back to gain 100 yards against a I-A/FBS team in 10 years with 107 yards on the Wildcats' defense. Back in 1999, Marcel Shipp gained 111 at Toledo. It was also his eighth-career 100-yard game at UMass.
Nelson is a preseason All-CAA pick in addition to being a College Sporting News Third Team Preseason All-American.
Nelson gained 110.4 yards per game last season including seven career 100-yard games. He finished last season with a career-high 204 yards against Hofstra (11/22/08), his sixth game of the year with 100-plus yards.
Hernandez Runs Wild With Opportunity
Making the most of his opportunity, Hernandez was named the CAA Football Offensive Player of the Week honors after helping #18 UMass to a 23-17 upset win over visiting #4 New Hampshire, 23-17. The sophomore was also named the game's Bill Knight MVP after garnered a career-high 166 rushing yards and a touchdown on 29 carries against New Hampshire's league-leading defense. He scored the game-winning touchdown on a 42-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter. Hernandez added to his fourth-quarter rushing total of 104 yards when he broke loose on a 34-yarder with just under two minutes left to play, to set up what proved to the be the game-icing field goal for UMass.
In first-career start vs. Stony Brook (9/26), rushed for career-high 140 yards on career-high 29 carries and three touchdowns. He became first UMass player with 3 TDs in a game since Matt Lawrence in 2007.
In first extended playing time had nine carries for 88 yards vs. Albany (9/12), scored first two career touchdowns including a career-long of 58 yards.
Ducasse Leads O-Line Of Protection
This year UMass' has allowed just seven sacks in six games for 1.2 per game, ranking 18th in the NCAA in fewest sacks allowed and second in the CAA (Richmond 1.0).
Last season with Ducasse as the anchor, UMass was second in the FCS in fewest sacks allowed with just six in 12 games (0.50 per game). The Minutemen led the CAA in fewest sacks allowed, marking the fourth year in a row that UMass was a the top of the league in fewest sacks allowed.
With giving up six sacks in 12 games last season and seven sacks this season, UMass has allowed just 66 sacks in 67 games since 2004 when the majority of the current coaching staff arrived.
In Ducasse's 30 games over the last four seasons, UMass has allowed only 29 sacks and UMass has had a 100-yard rusher in 20 of those 30 games. This year, Nelson has two games with 100 or more yards: 158 vs. Rhode Island (9/19) and 107 at Kansas State (9/5) in the opener. Along with that Jonathan Hernandez had 166 yards vs. New Hampshire (10/17) and 140 yards vs. Stony Brook (9/26). Nelson gained 100 yards in six of 12 games last season.
A 2008 All-American, Ducasse is a preseason All-CAA First Team and First-Team All-American by nearly every outlet.
Ducasse is flanked by several returning players in sophomores Josh Samuda and Brian Ostaszewski. Senior Jared Chivers has added stability with his versatility playing guard and center this season. UMass has used many different combinations up front all season including junior John Ihne, redshirt freshman Stephane Milhim and junior Brandon Flanagan. UMass has started four different players at right guard (Chivers, Flanagan, Ihne and Milhim).
Dynamic Receivers Flying High
UMass returns two of the top wideouts in the nation in All-American Victor Cruz and All-conference pick Jeremy Horne. A year after questions surrounded an inexperienced receiver corps, UMass has one of the most experienced groups in the nation with its top four wideouts returning. Along with Cruz and Horne, senior Joe Sanford and sophomore Julian Talley give UMass a very talented and dynamic bunch.
Overall, UMass has had 12 different players make a reception this season.
Cruz and Talley top the charts this season. Cruz ranks FIRST in the CAA and 24th in the NCAA in receiving yards per game (80.5) with team-best 483 yards on 29 catches. Talley is second on both catches (17) and yards (233). Horne is third in both with 14 catches for 224 yards.
With his 1,573 career receiving yards, Cruz has moved to seventh all-time at UMass. No. 6 on the list is Chip Mitchell with 1,680 (1986-89).
Cruz became the ninth player in UMass history with 100 catches in UMass history with his fifth catch of the game against New Hampshire (10/17). He is currently tied for seventh in career catches with 101 with Mitchell. Next on that list at No. 6 is Bob Simeone (108).
Cruz has two 100-yard games this year with 118 yards on eight catches at Delaware (10/10) and against Albany (9/12) with 121 yards on six catches and two touchdowns. He had a big day with 96 yards on six catches against Rhode Island (9/19).
Talley had career-highs of five catches and 86 yards in the win over Albany (9/12). Talley added three catches for 69 yards including career-long 55 yarder vs. Rhode Island (9/19).
Horne, who had a slow start, busted out for his fifth-career 100-yard receiving game against Stony Brook (9/26) with five catches for 124 yards. Overall, he has 10 catches for 190 yards.
Sanford had three catches in back-to-back games in mid-September. He had career bests in catches (3), yards (76) and long reception (42) in win over Rhode Island (9/19). For the year, he has eight catches for 149 yards.
Captain Miles Heads Defensive Corps
As the starting free safety, Miles led UMass in tackles last season with 104 stops. He also intercepted three passes, forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles. Miles was an All-CAA First-Team selection and led all league defensive backs with 8.7 tackles per game. He also led the team with 56 solo stops including five TFLs.
This year, he is third on the team with 37 tackles this season along with two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Miles opened the season with eight tackles at Kansas State (9/5). He had seven stops and his eighth-career interception against Albany (9/12).
The secondary has received contributions from various players this season including senior Corey Davis, sophomore Shane Viveiros, junior Ke'Mon Bailey and redshirt freshmen Kumar Davis and Darren Thellen.
The DBs have received a boost from the converted wide receiver Bailey, who had six tackles, three for a loss, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble in his first-ever game on the defensive side of the ball at K-State (9/5). He has 22 tackles in his defensive debut season along with three passes defended.
In his first season of action Kumar Davis has 21 tackles, including seven at Kansas State (9/5) and four against Albany (9/12) in his first-career start. Kumar Davis made the game-sealing interception in the end zone as time expired in the huge 23-17 win over #4 New Hampshire (10/17). Corey Davis has 11 tackles along with a team-best six passes broken up. Thellen has 16 tackles this year.
Linebackers Back It Up!
True sophomore Tyler Holmes continues to show his amazing ability at MIKE, as he leads UMass with 57 tackles (9.0 per game) and two interceptions (one in the first two games). Holmes had a career-best 13 stops at Delaware (10/10). He piled up 12 tackles and his second career interception at Kansas State (9/5). He tallied eight tackles and an interception for the third game in a row against Albany (9/12). He stopped six vs. Rhode Island (9/19).
Senior Eric Dickson has been a tackling machine all season playing at WILL. In his five games, he is risen to second on the team with 46 stops (9.2 per game). He had a team-best and career-high 18 tackles in the upset win over #4 New Hampshire (10/17). After missing the opener, he returned to action in the home opener against Albany (9/12) and began his season with a bang. He racked up a team-best nine tackles and a 7-yard sack. It was Dickson's first-career start and first-career game at linebacker. He tied for the team-lead in tackles against Rhode Island (9/19) with seven stops.
UMass has had two freshman named CAA Rookie of the Week, both playing from the linebacker spot, demonstrating the bright future.
Redshirt freshman D.J. Adeoba was stellar in his first college game with seven tackles and a return of a block punt for a 26-yard touchdown. He was named the CAA Rookie of the Week for his performance. He was also was named to the Boston Herald's Honor Roll as the top defensive player in New England.
True freshman Perry McIntyre was named the CAA Rookie of the Week after the Stony Brook (9/26) game after racking up a team-best eight tackles. McIntyre has 26 tackles overall this season. He posted a career-high 10 tackles in the win over #4 New Hampshire (10/17).
Senior Kurt Filler was third on the team in tackles with 21 prior to suffering a season-ending knee injury against Stony Brook. He had his most impactful game vs. Rhode Island (9/19). He had a key interception (first of career) to end a URI drive in the first quarter. He also made six tackles including one on a fourth-down to end another URI drive in the UMass red zone. Filler drew his first start with the Minutemen and racked up nine tackles and 1.5 TFLs at Kansas State (9/5). He also had six tackles against Albany (9/12). The junior college transfer saw just limited action last season.
Experienced D-Line Creates Chaos
Hanson is tied with Monette for the team lead with 7.0 TFLs along with 2.5 sacks. He has made 33 tackles, fourth on the team and most among the linemen. In the opener at Kansas State (9/5), Hanson returned to his form of two years ago with seven tackles including 1.5 TFLs and a 13-yard sack. He also recovered a fumble and returned it eight yards. Hanson had a big game at Delaware (10/10) with nine solo tackles, a sack, two TFLs and a forced fumble. Hanson continued his strong play with six tackles and his first-career interception in the win over #4 New Hampshire (10/17).
Harrington has 23 tackles and 4.0 TFLs this season. He tied for the team-lead with seven tackles vs. Rhode Island (9/19) including 2.5 TFLs. That came on the heels of the Albany (9/12) game when he was named the Game MVP by the coaches, finishing with seven stops.
Monette, has emerged as a solid performer as he leads UMass in sacks with 3.5 for 21 yards in addition to being tied with Hanson for first on the team in TFLs with 7.0. Monette has 21 overall tackles.
Harrington was the line's top tackler in 2008 with 56 stops, which is the third most among, all returning defensive players. The 6-3, 285-pound Salem, Mass., native also had 2.5 sacks. Collier, a 2007 All-CAA selection, racked up 36 tackles last season after posting a career-best 62 as a sophomore. Hanson, also mired with injuries last season, had 33 stops last year after a break-out sophomore campaign with 61 tackles. Hanson was second in the CAA in 2007 with 16 TFLs to go along with seven sacks. He will look to return to that form in his senior campaign.
Cuko Kicks The Record Book
Cuko is also moving up the record books with what has started off as a record-season in just five games for the Albanian native. He has made 14-of-17 field goals and all 18 PAT attempts. His 14 made field goals already ranks tied for the third-most in a season with Eric Oke. The record of 16 is held by Sandro Vitiello (1978) and Chris Koepplin (2006) in certainly in reach.
On the all-time charts, he ranks fifth in career made field goals with 26. Next at No. 3 are Koepplin and Doug White. The all-time record is in reach with Silvio Bonvini making 30 from 1985-88. He is also fourth in career made PATs with 90. Next on list is White with 97.
Cuko has 10 career field goals of more than 40 yards (six this year). It included his career-long of 51, tied for third-longest at UMass, which he kicked at Delaware (10/10).
He has made multiple field goals in every game he's played this season and three field goals in four of his games. He had three games in a row with three field goals, all tying his career high for makes in a game. He hit from 30, 42, 35 vs. Stony Brook (9/26); 22, 37, 42 vs. Rhode Island (9/19) and 47, 37, 40 against Albany (9/12).
Under The Lights
UMass played two night games under the permanent lights at McGuirk Alumni Stadium this season with a 44-7 win over Albany (9/12) and 44-17 over Stony Brook (9/26). The lights were installed prior to the 2008 season at a cost of roughly $1.8 million. Last season, UMass hosted Albany for its first game under the lights on Aug. 30, 2008 and the Minutemen posted a 28-16 win. Later in the season, UMass played several games that started at 3:30 p.m. where lights were used, but they were not true night games.
UMass played four night games under temporary lights at McGuirk and won all four games. The first game under the lights came in the 2000 opener, a 36-16 win over William & Mary on Aug. 31. That game was also the only other football game in UMass history played in August.
The Minutemen played the 2004 home opener under the lights a 30-20 win on Sept. 11, 2004. UMass played two home games under the lights in 2005, beating Albany, 40-0 on Sept. 17 and Rhode Island, 14-6 on Sept. 24.
Lights were also installed for the 2006 NCAA I-AA Playoffs for UMass' 24-17 win over New Hampshire on Dec. 2. That game kicked off at 2:30 p.m. and the lights did not take effect until the second half of the game. The game technically by NCAA rules doesn't count as a night game.
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