May 26 / Todd

UMass Minutemen: JMUSB CAA Football Preview #1

First of all, we must issue our first official correction.  CAA football is currently down to 10 schools, not 12 as previously reported, due to Hofstra and Northeastern’s decisions to drop football this past summer.  This year the conference will be one superdivision instead of the previous North/South alignment.  That is all the actual journalism (and informed piece of news presented with integrity) you’ll get today from JMUSB.  Now on to the rampant speculation.


The Basics:  First up is former North Division member UMass, a team that we think may be considerably stronger in person than they appear on paper.  The Minutemen finished a disappointing 5-6, 3-5 CAA last year after a strong 4-2 start that included a win over New Hampshire and a tight loss at FBS Kansas St. in the opener.   A dreadful 0-5 road record doomed this team, though it was their only home loss, to the Dukes on Senior Night, that sealed their fate and crushed their playoff chances.   UMass has been a consistently strong CAA program the last decade.  This will be Head Coach Kevin Morris’ second year.

What you don’t know: UMass landed one of the top prizes in the HU/NU transfer lottery in Running Back John Griffin.  Griffin ran for over 1000 yards, was 1st Team All CAA last year, and NU’s MVP.  Although there are other good backs in the Conference, Griffin unarguably did more with less than any skill position player in the CAA last year for the Huskies and should team up with Jonathan Hernandez to form one of the strongest backfields in 2010.

JMU Question: Returning 2nd Team all CAA LB Tyler Holmes is from Blacksburg HS in Blacksburg, VA.  How is he not playing for the Dukes?!

2010 Outlook: UMass returns only four starters on each side of the ball, but those low numbers are deceiving, at least on offense.  They return QB Kyle Havens and three linemen to protect him.  Although they lost badass OL Ducasse to the NFL Draft, with Griffin in the mix at RB, if they can find anyone to catch a few balls, they could be dangerous on offense.  The question marks with this team are 1) defense, where they have to replace their entire line, and 2) leadership.  That 0-5 road record and disastrous finish to the season (including an ugly home loss to the Dukes on Senior Night in Amherst and an uglier loss on the road in the finale in what turned out to be the last game for the Flying Dutchmen) seem to suggest a lack of leadership, and Coach Morris will have to hope a few guys step up in that regard.

Long-term Outlook: UMass is a big state school (27,016) with decent history, a decent home following (never had less than 12k until the finale against JMU on Thanksgiving week when they were falling apart), and proud tradition in other sports (think Marcus Camby).  The Minutemen play in the A-10 in other sports, but if the dominoes start falling in College Football the next few years, you’d have to think they’d have some serious decisions to make about the direction of their football program.  Falling back into a lower-level FCS conference in the Northeast, trying to go back to a reformed A-10, and considering a jump to the next level would all seem to be realistic options for this program.

Prediction: 6-5, 4-4 CAA.  This is a team that could really surprise someone (think W&M in the opener at home on Labor Day Weekend) and could easily lose to someone traditionally beneath them (think at RhodeI to close the season in what could also be the Rams last game ever), but if they can survive a tough start to the season (home for W&M and always tough Holy Cross, then at the Big House to play the Wolverines), they could hang around all season.



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  1. Uncle Ron / May 26 2010

    This is some fine work, Todd. You even managed to squeeze in a Marcus Camby reference! I was looking for something about how you expect them to match up against the Dukes, but I guess you have to save something for your actual game analysis and preview in October.

    My version of this posting would have just consisted of some anecdotes about a UMass alum who I know and some uninformed non-sequiters about the state of Massuchusetts. And a Marcus Camby reference.

  2. Rob / May 26 2010

    The entire post is awesome. I think we’re overlooking the best part of the post, which in my opinion is the sneaky dig at residents of the other commonwealth that Todd put in the caption though.

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