Massachusetts Football 2012 Preview

Massachusetts Minutemen

Mid-American Conference
Umass College Football 2012 Team Preview
Massachusetts Team Page


Massachusetts is making the big leap from the FCS to the FBS. Joining the MAC is a big step for the program, but the timing is not particularly good. The Minutemen have a new coach in Charley Molnar and are coming off of a pretty disappointing 2011 campaign in the Colonial Athletic Association. The MAC schedule will be tough enough, but non-conference games against Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan and Vanderbilt will have this group reeling for a while.

2011 Record: (5-6, 3-5)
2011 Bowl: None
Coach: Charley Molnar (First year at Massachusetts, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Kruczek
Defensive Coordinator: Phil Elmassian

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Alan Williams, RB, 140 yards
Passing: Kellen Pagel, QB, 1,725 yards
Receiving: Rob Blanchflower, TE, 208 yards
Tackles: Perry McIntyre, LB, 116
Sacks: Perry McIntyre, LB, 6.5
Interceptions: Darren Thellen, S, 5

Other Key Returnees: LB Tim Brandt, OT Anthony Dima, LB Chad Hunte, G Stephane Milhim, DE Brandon Potvin, S Ed Saint-Vil, C Quinton Sales, OT Nick Speller, CB Antoine Tharpe, DT Charles Thompson

Key Losses: DE Theo Agnew, WR Tom Gilson, RB Jonathan Hernandez, LB Tyler Holmes, TE Emil Igwenagu, WR Jesse Julmiste, CB Kirk Nelms, G Josh Samuda, WR Julian Talley

The Umass defense should be the strength of this team. However, the numbers may not show that by the end of a grueling season in the pass happy Mid-American Conference. The loss of linebacker Tyler Holmes, who led the Minutemen with 118 tackles, is a big blow, but Umass is moving back to a 4-3 defense and that puts Perry McIntyre alone in the middle of the linebacker corps. After totaling 116 tackles in 2011, McIntyre is ready to take on the leadership role left behind by Holmes. Chad Hunte and Tim Brandt are back to start at the outside linebacker spots and they both are capable pass rushers. However, this was a team that had trouble getting pressure on the opposing quarterback with the frontline. Adding another player to the front will help, but ends Brandon Potvin, Ryan Delaire and Bernardo Nunez must find a way to get into the backfield. With tackles Charles Thompson and Kevin Byrne returning, the interior of the line will make it tough to run up the gut against Umass. The strength of the entire defense is in the secondary. Safeties Darren Thellen, Ed Saint-Vil and Christian Birt will be tested in the MAC, but they are a group that can make some big plays. Antoine Tharpe leads a deep unit of cornerbacks that will likely spend a lot of time in the nickel package.

The Umass offense may have a little tougher time adjusting to life in the FBS. This is a team that has some new things to learn under their third offensive coordinator in as many years. This time around they will be running the spread offense and quarterback Kellen Pagel will have to lead the way. During his first year as a starter in 2011, Pagel threw for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. He will need to keep the interceptions down, but Pagel has done a pretty good job, all things considered. The big loss on offense is running back Jonathan Hernandez. His 1,092 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns will be missed. Alan Williams and Jordan Broadnax did not have many opportunities. The receivers are also a very inexperienced bunch and Umass will need to rely on seniors Andre Hill and Chase Danska. Fortunately, the Minutemen do have a very experienced offensive line, led by tackle Nick Speller.

The Bottom Line:
Michigan transfer Michael Cox will provide some much needed experience to the backfield. The former Wolverine running back never made much of an impact in the Big Ten, but Cox will at Umass. Another transfer will help out at wide receiver. Former Notre Dame receiver Deion Walker only played in seven games during his three eligible years with the Irish, but he is a big 6-3 receiver who should be a welcome addition to a program in dire need of pass catchers. However, Cox and Walker will only be around for a year and are not long term solutions. It will take much more time before the Minutemen are competitive at this level.

Projected Bowl: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 127.36 (81st in FCS, 10th in CAA)
Passing Offense: 232.73 (40, 5)
Total Offense: 360.09 (58, 5)
Scoring Offense: 25.18 (62, 6)
Rushing Defense: 156.55 (66, 7)
Pass Defense: 208.91 (63, 6)
Total Defense: 365.45 (64, 6)
Scoring Defense: 27.91 (74, 8)
Turnover Margin: -.45 (84, 8)
Sacks: 2.18 (43, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.91 (53, 6)