Friday, September 26, 2014

25 Questions for Minutemen

What is their body of work?

FBS has been tough for UMass.  They are 2-26 in two years, including 0-4 this year.  Having said that, they have played 4 Power 5 teams this year and have two narrow losses.  They nearly beat Colorado and Vanderbilt.  These aren't the best Power 5 teams, but Vanderbilt played a tough game against South Carolina, etc.  I think it is safe to say this is not the UMass team we saw under Charlie Molnar.  BG beat UMass 28-7 last year.  Let me say this...this matchup is ringing 2006 Temple-PTSD-type alarms.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

22, which indicates a relatively young team

Who are their returning statistical leaders?

Trey Dudley-Giles is #5 in the nation in KO Returns.

What was their turnover ratio?

They are -1 so far this year.


How is their QB play?

They went for help right away here.  They picked up Blake Frohnapfel, who is a big boy--6'6"--and was at Marshall, where he was Cato's backup.  He graduated and came to UMass, where is a graduate student with two year's eligibility.  He hasn't had great numbers...he has completed 49% of his passes, 6 TDS/2 INT.  However, he would appear to throw higher risk passes and is getting 14 yards per reception, which is a lot.  He's 8th in the MAC in passing efficiency.  However, he has played only games against Power 5 opponents, so he remains a bit of an unknown..and, you know, BG is currently last in the nation in defense. (This caveat applies to this entire review).

What is their scoring and yards per play?

Coach Whipple is considered an offensive guru.  The Minutemen are currently 103rd in the nation in scoring offense and 4.8 yards per play is also not great.

Can they run the ball?

They are among the worst running teams in FBS so far.  Jamal Wilson, who put 119 on BG last year is injured and his replacement is averaging 2.9 yards per carry.  Against WKU and Indiana BG was decent against the run and if they can do the same and make UMass one-dimensional, that would help.

Do they pass the ball?

They are 78th in passing efficiency in the country.  They have 3 players (Sharpe, Michel and Mills) who are not getting huge reception numbers but are all averaging between 18-20 yards per reception, which is a big average.

How is their run/pass balance?

This year, they have run the ball almost 53% of the time.

Do they convert on 3rd Down?

At 34% they are 9th in the MAC.

Do they score in the red zone?

They get 3 trips a game at 4.8 points per trip, which is all average.

Do they protect the quarterback?

They have given up 11 sacks so far, which is almost 8% of their passing attempts, which is a lot...and probably a by-product of a deep drop passing game.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

They are 111th in the country in scoring defense but only allow 5.6 yards per play, which is not actually as terrible as the scoring would predict.

Do they defend the run effectively?

They allow 4.6 yards per rush, which is 92nd in the nation.  BG is going to need points to win this season and BG will have to be able to run and pass in each of its games moving forward.

Can they be passed on?

They are 87th in passing defense efficiency.  They are allowing 64% completion with 14.6 per completion, which is not a good mix.  They do have 3 INTs.

Do they get off the field on 3rd down?

Negative.  They are 123rd in the nation, with 53% allowed.  This probably accounts for part of why their yards per play and points allowed aren't in sync.

Do  they defend in the red zone?

And here would be the other.  They allow 4.5 trips per game and have precisely 0 red zone stops.  They allow 6.1 points per red zone trip, which is really poor.

Do they pressure the QB?

Not great....5 sacks in 127 attempts is 3.9%, which is not great.

Special Teams:


No.  Not good.  Their net punting is 32 yards per kick, which is in the ten lowest in the nation.  They have allowed a TD this year and have been blocked once.

Punt Return?

Trey Dudley-Giles is very good.  Only 2 attempts...but 31 yards on those attempts.


Big problems here...they have left it open...had an "open competition" this week.  In BG-lore, anytime there was an open competition there were a lot of missed FGs.  Collectively, they are 2-5 on the year with a 34 long.


Not great, teams average starting on the 27.  Both kickers have tried this...only 2 TBs in 17 attempts.

Kickoff Return?

Dudley-Giles is really, really good.  He's averaging 35 per return without a TD.

Coach Whipple
Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

OK, here is why this game makes my nervous.

First, it is more ways than one.  First, it is homecoming in the regular way, but it also marks UMass' return to their campus.  They will continue to split games between their home field and Gillette Stadium, but you'd expect to see some enthusiasm and a decent crowd in what is already an intimate stadium.

Second, the Minutemen have been circling around winning.  They led Colorado in the 3rd Q and Vanderbilt in the 4th.  The Colorado games in "at home" and the Vandy game was away, but either way, they are getting close and they have to be feeling it.

As Coach Babers said, they are going to win one sooner or later, "let's hope it isn't this week."

BG faced a similar position in 2006 with the Temple game.  Here is my write up on the game, which ended a 20-game losing streak.  BG was unsettled in a different way that year, and was in the process of putting a true FR QB into the lineup.  This year, BG is playing without Johnson, Dieter, Colvin, Lynch and Ward (via The Blade).

BG is reeling coming into the UMass game, especially on defense.  We could very well climb into the soft East race...but I don't see any reason to think we have any automatic wins left on the schedule.

With the home dynamic for the Minutemen and this idea that they can smell win and they can smell it strong when we come in has me very nervous about this one.

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