2019 UMass Minutemen College Football Preview

by Aug 9, 2019NCAA Football

BET ON THE UMASS MINUTEMEN

McGuirk Alumni Stadium

17,000 Seat Stadium

Amherst, Massachusetts 

Last year’s record (4-8, independent)

Head Coach: Walt Bell

Record at School:  First Season

Career Record:  First Season

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Two years ago UMass started out slow, but as everybody gained experience this group was looking much better by season’s end.  

They pushed the SEC’s Tennessee & Mississippi St to the limit and could have won either game, but things did not break their way.  

The beat a pretty good Appalachian St team and won at BYU.  But they lost to teams they should not have as well.  

The 0-6 start to the season did not help, but they did end the season on a 4-2 run to finish up at 4-8.  

Since moving into the FBS in 2014 it has been rough going, but last season was supposed to be the year they broke through with a winning record and just maybe a bowl game.

In QB’s Ross Comis & Andrew Ford, they had two talents who they could not deny playing time, so they both played.  They got to throw to WR Andy Isabella, one of the best at his position in the country. Just about everybody from the 2017 who made huge strides was coming back. 

But little ole UMass remained that tiny program who still struggled to play with the big boys. UMass had one of the better, most efficient passing offenses in college football, but the defense was horrid.   They finished up 4-8 again, the four teams they beat were horrible, and the games they lost (8) were by an average of 24 points.

Even Coach Mark Whipple who has had success at UMass in the past and was credited with the team moving up into the FBS, and was considered an offensive genius, had talked with the university and both decided it was time for him to move on.  

UMASS OFFENSE

You cannot deny the offensive talent of a year ago.  You also cannot deny that none of them are coming back in 2019.  With only (3) starters returning from last season, it appears the offense is starting from ground zero.  In addition to both QB’s and star WR Andy Isabella, who now plays for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, they lost leading rusher Marquis Young. 

The most notable returning starter is WR Brennon Dingle who was 3rd among pass catchers with only 19 receptions for 269 yards. The team is not left without talent though.  Whipple did a nice job recruiting and left the team in decent shape.

He brought in (2) three-star recruits in the QB race, (2) RB’s, (10) WR’s, (5) offensive linemen and (4) defensive line, (4) linebackers and (5) in the secondary. Of course they are all young without much experience, but the talent base is there for new coach Walt Bell.  Bell might be the best addition to this team.

He is an up and coming coach, who previous head coaches have always taken with him when they move on. He has a great reputation and has a great chance of taking this program a step further. Bell is depending on junior college transfers he added to the team to bolster the talent left by coach Whipple. 

I usually mention names of players who are moving into starting positions, but everybody is new and the names are not important at the moment. That is not to say they are not good, they are apparently talented but nobody has heard of them yet. Coach Bell is hoping by season’s end he has some budding stars whose names we all know, like the stars of last year’s team. 

UMASS DEFENSE

The defense was horrible last season.  They were ranked 123rd in total defense last season.  Unless some of those recruits can step up, there is not much hope for this season’s stop unit either.  They only have (4) starters coming back. Maybe that is not a bad thing.

Those 7 missing starters could not stop anybody last year.  Somethings needs to change, so they hired new defensive coordinator Aazaar Abdul-Rahim from Maryland.

I guess if there is a positive, the 3 of the 4 guys returning are defensive linemen and if the defense is going to improve it will start there and getting some sort of pressure.  They only had 10 sacks last season. Returning DE Jake Byczko had 3½ of those sacks, so at least they have a starting point.

With the defense so bad last year, one positive might be some of those young kids probably got more playing time than expected. Sometimes a year’s experience can make a huge difference in a young man’s performance of the field.   The defense can only get better.

UMASS SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Cooper Garcia returns off a solid season.  He made 9 of 11 field goals and was a perfect 37-37 in extra points.  Last year’s punter George Georgopoulos returns to handle the punting duties.  At least coach Bell does not have to spend his valuable time worrying about the kicking game in his first season.

2019 UMASS MINUTEMEN OUTLOOK

Just taking a look at the win total set by oddsmakers of just 3, tells you what is expected from this team.  The good thing for new HC Bell is nothing is expected this season and won’t be until next year. After back to back seasons of 4-8 records, with more talent than this team, it does not look good. 

Sometimes you just have to go back to the drawing board, and this team is forced to do that. With the new coach bringing in a fresh new winning attitude, only good things can happen. It may not show up in terms of wins and losses, but I believe coach Bell has what it takes.  This is his first head coaching gig. He has improved teams everywhere he has been and will make the most of this opportunity. 

BETONLINE has listed the regular season win total at 3.  It is hard to believe there are other teams out there with a lower expected win total, but there are.  I am a believer that effort and good coaching goes a long way. UMass has never been afraid to schedule those power conference teams. 

This year it is Rutgers & Northwestern. They also play host to BYU, a team they beat at BYU last season. Odds are those are three losses.  Fortunately for them 7 games on this year’s schedule are projected to be ranked 108th or worse.

I cannot help but think they can get 3 wins from those games.  Will they get a 4th? Maybe, maybe not. I feel much better about the chance of getting 4 than just 2 wins this year. I am taking OVER 3 wins.

Don’t forget to check out our NCAA College Football Betting Guide to stay up to date on all of the happenings in College Football throughout the 2019 Season.

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