The Massachusetts Minutemen finally played a solid game from start to finish for the first time in the 2014 season with the 40-17 triumph over the Kent State Golden Flashes. But how good did UMass really play?
There are really only two sides to any defense, scoring and yardage. The UMass scoring defense was superb, allowing just 17 points which is a season low and scoring six of their own thanks to a Jackson Porter pick-six. However the defense gave up a lot of yards to a very bad offense. Before Saturday Kent State was averaging just 51.8 rushing yards per game. The Golden Flashes amassed 150 rushing yards gaining 5.6 yards every carry on Saturday. The rushing defense has been a problem all season for UMass as they give up 196.7 per game. Kassan Messiah had one of his best games of the season with a team high 10 total tackles.
Coming into Saturday the Minutemen secondary was allowing 293 yards through the air. The Golden Flashes managed just 191 behind a banged up Colin Reardon and allowing just one touchdown. Kent State on the other hand was averaging 209 passing yards and that 191 marks the second lowest output of the year for them. UMass also held Kent State to just over 52 percent passing which was on par their season average. The pick-six by Porter was especially exciting and UMass will need to continue to make those kind of plays agasinst the upper-echelon of the MAC if they want to make a push for the MAC EAST.
Verdict: Helen Keller could still find a way to run for 100 yards against UMass, but hey 17 points is still 17 points.
Giving up just 17 points is a huge victory for the defense no matter how many yards they gave up. If they can hold teams to under 20 points this offense will carry them to victory. Speaking of offense...
UMass had its best all-around offensive game on Saturday. The 286 passing yards was the third highest mark of the season and the 196 yards on the ground was the most of the season and above the season average of 77.5 previously.
Lorenzo Woodley may have just played his way as the permanent feature back on this team. His 160 yards was almost as impressive as his absurd 7.0 yards per carry. He finally looked like the runner he was touted to be out of high school and if he can continue to carry the load like this the offense will go from fun to watch to very dangerous.
Blake Frohnapfel looked very comfortable throwing for 286 yards and three touchdowns with a 60 percent completion rate. It always makes it easier on your team when your quarterback plays as consistently as Blake does. Tajae Sharpe had unusually low production with just 2 catches for 19 yards which are both season lows. However this wasn't a concern as Frohn really spread the ball around nicely with six players having two or more catches. Alex Kenney led all recievers with 74 yards which is good to see from the vetran. Also Jean Sifrin hauled in another touchdown and found his way onto the Mackey watch list.
Verdict: Finally put all the tools in the bag.
You have to be pleased with how UMass finally put together a balanced attack on offense and came away with the win. With teams paying more attention to Sharpe the other recievers will need to continue to step up and make plays.
It looks like the Blake Lucas era is finally over with Logan Laurent taking over place kicking responsibilities. Even though he did miss an extra point at the end of the game (as I predicted in my game preview that UMass would) he was 2-2 on field goals and made that ever elusive 22 yarder that Lucas couldn't against Vanderbilt. Whether or not Laurent will be better than Lucas remains to be seen but he at least deserves a chance.
Verdict: Incomplete but ABOUT GOD DAMN TIME FOR A CHANGE AT KICKER!