UMass Wraps Up 2009 Season at Hofstra
UMASS (5-5, 3-4) at HOFSTRA (4-6, 2-5)
UMass Wraps Up 2009 Season at Hofstra
The Minutemen come into Saturday's game with a 5-5 overall record, seeking to secure an above .500 record for the eighth year in a row. The last time UMass was below the 50-percent mark was in 2001, when the team went 3-8. UMass will also be seeking a .500 record in the CAA for the second year in a row, with a win. UMass has been at or above .500 in league play every season since 2002.
Hofstra enters Saturday with a 4-6 overall record and 2-5 in the CAA having lost three games in a row.
The game will be televised on delay via Verizon FiOS TV1 in New York and across the country on Verizon cable system. Ralph Bednarczyk calls the action alongside Joe Nolan.
UMass' senior class will suit up in the Maroon & White for the final time on Saturday. The group, which was honored last Saturday in the home finale against James Madison, has a chance to tie for the second-best senior class record all-time. Since 2006, UMass has a 35-15 record. The 35 wins already ranks fourth on the list for best four-year span, one behind the second total of 36 set by the 2006 and 2007 seniors. The program record for best record over a four-year span was set last season by the 2008 seniors at 37-14.
The 2009 senior class has made two NCAA Tournament appearance and won two conference titles: the Atlantic 10 in 2006 and CAA in 2007. UMass advanced to the NCAA title game in 2006 and NCAA quarterfinals in 2007.
The seniors who will play their final UMass game on Saturday are: offensive lineman Jared Chivers, defensive tackle Brandon Collier, wide receiver Victor Cruz, kicker Armando Cuko, defensive back Corey Davis, linebacker Eric Dickson, offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse, offensive lineman Bryan Fisher, defensive end Michael Hanson, defensive tackle Kyle Harrington, wide receiver Jeremy Horne, safety Jeromy Miles, defensive end Anthony Monette, tailback Tony Nelson, wide receiver Joe Sanford, tight end Matt Silver, quarterback Scott Woodward and fullback Chris Zardas.
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UMass Quick Hitters
Fellow linebacker Eric Dickson is sixth in the CAA with 9.0 tackles per game including double-figures in three of the last four games. Over the last five games, he has 53 tackles including a career-high 18 vs. New Hampshire (10/17). He racked up 14 at Maine (10/31).
Receiver Victor Cruz is third in the CAA in yards per game with 71.3 along as he has made 48 catches for 713 yards. Cruz is moving up the all-time charts at UMass for receiving yards (1,803), standing fifth and sixth in receptions (120).
The Minutemen have used a two-headed attack at tailback with senior Payton Award candidate Tony Nelson and sophomore Jonathan Hernandez. They have combined for six games with 100 yards or more. Nelson returned to full force against Northeastern (11/7) and gained 116 yards on 20 carries and scoring three touchdowns. He followed that up with a 115-yard game against James Madison (11/14) on Senior Day. Nelson had been hampered by an injury for the last several weeks seeing limited time. He ranks fourth in the CAA in rushing per game (79.8). In Nelson's six starts this season, he is averaging 100.2 yards per game, when he has been healthy.
Hernandez is eighth in the CAA in rushing with a 57.3 average. He did sit out the Northeastern game as he was banged up, but returned with 40 yards vs. James Madison.
On special teams, senior placekicker Armando Cuko is having record setting season. He leads the NCAA in field goals per game with 2.0 and ranks 13th overall in points per game (8.9). The Albanian native has set the new UMass record for most field goals made in a season with 18 and is three shy of tying the conference record of 21 set by Delaware's Jon Striefsky in 2007. Cuko has made 18-of-23 field goals this season to break the old record of 16. Cuko also needs one field goal to become the all-time career field goal record holder. He is tied with Silvio Bonvini with 30 after tying the record against Northeastern with three kicks. Cuko is 26-of-26 on PATs this season and now has 98 in his career, third-most at UMass.
The visiting team has six of the 12 games, but the home team has been victorious six of the last eight.
The road team holds the lead in each series at the opponent's home. UMass is 3-2 all-time at Shuart Stadium and Hofstra is 4-3 at McGuirk Stadium.
Last year, UMass football closed out the 2008 season on a high note with a 28-14 win over Hofstra on a frigid Senior Day at McGuirk Stadium on Nov. 22, 2008. Tailback Tony Nelson ran for a career-high 204 yards and two touchdowns. In his final collegiate game quarterback Liam Coen threw two touchdowns to give him 90 in his career, 14th all-time in FCS history. UMass finished the season 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the CAA. Hofstra closed at 4-8 with a 2-6 league mark.
Two years ago, in the last game at Shuart Stadium between the teams, UMass continued the trend of winning on the road as the Minutemen dumped the Pride, 27-5 on Nov. 17, 2007 in a game nationally-televised on ESPNU.
Three seasons ago, UMass won on its Senior Day, 22-16 on Nov. 18, 2006. Four years ago on Long Island -- playing in former head coach Joe Gardi¹s last game, Hofstra ended UMass¹ hope of an NCAA berth with a 21-10 win on Nov. 19, 2005. Back in 2004, UMass won 40-30 in the season finale in 2004. The Pride played at Amherst for the third straight season in 2004, and the sixth time in the first eight years of the series.
Connections Of Note Between UMass/Hofstra
Recently graduated UMass senior defensive back Brian Ellis is the brother of one of Hofstra¹s all-time great receivers Devale Ellis, who graduated in 2006 and played in the NFL with Detroit Lions. Devale set the record for a UMass opponent in receiving yards with 225 on 16 receptions in 2004, at McGuirk Stadium.
UMass Football History Thumbnail
UMass has the winningest program in the CAA since 1998. UMass has a 85-47 record with a 64.4 win percentage. Over the last 10 years (since 2000), UMass has the best win percentage as well with a 64.8 mark and a 77-43 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 Dominating FCS & CAA Foes
Overall since the 2006 opener, UMass is 35-15 overall (70.0), with four losses to FBS teams (Navy, Boston College, Texas Tech and Kansas State).
The Minutemen are 22-9 in conference games over the last four seasons (71.0 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. The Minutemen did lose their regular-season home finale to James Madison (11/14), 17-14.
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 59-14 (.808) at home over the last 12 years, improving their all-time record at McGuirk to 165-75-2 (.686).
Since Kevin Morris came to UMass with the majority of the coaching staff in 2004, UMass is 30-6 at home, 83.0 win mark. Since 2003, UMass is 37-6 at home (86.0).
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 tied for third on the team with 55 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 34 tackles in his defensive debut season along with five passes defended. Bailey made UMass history as he returned a defensive extra point for two points at Maine (10/31). The first defensive PAT in UMass history.
In his first season of action Kumar Davis has 26 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 19 tackles along with a team-best six passes broken up. Thellen has 32 tackles this year.
Linebackers Back It Up!
True sophomore Tyler Holmes continues to show his amazing ability at MIKE, as he leads UMass with 101 tackles (11.2 per game) and four interceptions (one in the first two games and one in at Richmond and at Maine). He ranks second in the CAA in tackles per game and fourth in interceptions per game (0.44). Over his last five games, he has 69 tackles for 13.8 per game. He was named the UMass Athlete of the Week on Nov. 16 after piling up 14 tackles and a forced fumble against James Madison (11/14). He racked up 16 stops and an interception at Maine (10/31). Holmes had the best game of his young career in his state-homecoming at Richmond (10/24). Against the top-ranked Spiders he piled up a career-best 17 tackles including 4.0 TFLs, his first-career sack and his fourth-career interception. Holmes had 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).
Senior Eric Dickson has been a tackling machine all season playing at WILL. In his nine games, he is risen to second on the team with 81 stops (9.0 per game). He ranks sixth in the CAA with 9.0 per game. Dickson has double-figure stops in three of his last five games with 14 at Maine (10/31) and 10 at #1 Richmond (10/24). 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.
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 55 tackles overall this season, tied with Jeromy Miles for third on the team. Against James Madison (11/14), he had a career-high 11 tackles. He posted 10 tackles in the win over #4 New Hampshire (10/17). He has 51 tackles in the last seven games (7.3 per game).
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. He has 11 tackles this season overall.
Junior Mike Mele made his UMass debut against Northeastern (11/7) and racked up a team-best 10 tackles. The Syracuse transfer has been mired with injury ailments most of the season. With the Orange in 2008, he was third on the team in tackles with 72.
Experienced D-Line Creates Chaos
Hanson leads the team with 11.0 TFLs along with 3.5 sacks. He has made 45 tackles, fifth 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 41 tackles and 6.5 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 is tied for the UMass lead in sacks with 3.5 for 21 yards in addition to being second to Hanson on the team in TFLs with 8.5 . Monette has 39 overall tackles.
Collier has emerged as of late and is now tied with Monette atop the team sack list with 3.5. In his senior year, Collier has 36 tackles and 8.5 TFLs for 42 yards, second-best on the team. He has 2.5 sacks over the last three weeks.
Cuko Kicks The Record Book
Cuko has had a record-setting season with the Minutemen. In just nine games, he set the school record for field goals made in a season making three kicks against Northeastern (11/7). He is 18-of-23 on the year. He broke that single season record held by Sandro Vitiello (1978) and Chris Koepplin (2006).
Cuko is just three shy of tying the conference record for made field goals in a season. Delaware's Jon Striefsky set the mark of 21 in 2007. The league doesn't have a complete list of single-season field goal records.
With his 18 made field goals this season, he is also now tied for the school record in career kicks with 30. He is equal with Silvio Bonvini (1985-88).
On the all-time charts, he is also third in career made PATs with 98, making all 26 kicks this season. Next on list is Chris Koepplin with 99.
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 made multiple field goals in the first five games he's played this season and three field goals in five 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). He also hit for three more field goals in the win over Northeastern (11/7) with boots from 30, 36, 35.
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 third in the CAA and 42nd in the NCAA in receiving yards per game (71.3) with team-best 713 yards on 48 catches. Talley is second on both catches (27) and yards (342). Horne is third with 22 catches and third with 294 yards.
With his 1,803 career receiving yards, Cruz has moved to fifth all-time at UMass. No. 4 is former Miami Dolphin Brandon London with 2,022 (2003-06).
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 sixth in career catches with 120. Next on that list at No. 5 is Jason Peebler (123), followed by No. 4 Marcel Shipp with 126.
Cruz has a catch in 21 games in a row dating to last season.
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 22 catches for 294 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 14 catches for 208 yards.
UMass Turns To Havens
In 10 starts at UMass, Havens has thrown for 1,908 yards and nine touchdowns and completed 55.3 percent (146-of-264).He ranks seventh in the CAA in total offense (181.2).
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
Nelson was banged up recently, but returned to near full strength with 116 yards and three touchdowns against Northeastern (11/7). He followed that game up with 115 yards on 18 carries and a TD vs. James Madison (11/14) on Senior Day.
In his six starts this season, playing a full strength, he is averaging 100.2 yards per game with 100-plus yards in five of those games.
He played just one series against New Hampshire (10/17) and missed the Richmond (10/24) and Stony Brook (9/26) games due to leg injury. He was back on the field in a limited role at Maine with 30 yards on 10 carries.
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 2,684 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. Next on the list is Frank Alessio with 2,887 from 1993-96.
Nelson is also tied for sixth in career rushing touchdowns with 22 (six this season) with Greg Landry. He is also fifth in career carries at UMass with 516.
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 is fourth in the CAA with a mark of 79.8 in his eight games. Jonathan Hernandez is right behind with 57.33 yards per game.
He had his 10th career rushing game with 100-plus yards against Northeastern (11/7) and his 11th career 100-yard game vs. James Madison (11/14).
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 Chances
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), he gained a 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 13 sacks in 10 games for 1.3 per game, ranking 22nd in the NCAA in fewest sacks allowed and second in the CAA. If UMass has the fewest sacks allowed in the league, it would be the fifth year in a row UMass has led to tied for the lead.
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 70 sacks in 70 games since 2004 when the majority of the current coaching staff arrived.
In Ducasse's 34 games over the last four seasons, UMass has allowed only 35 sacks and UMass has had a 100-yard rusher in 22 of those 34 games. This year, Nelson has four games with 100 or more yards: 158 vs. Rhode Island (9/19), 116 vs. Northeastern (11/7), 115 vs. James Madison (11/14), 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).
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