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The Anatomy of a Rivalry Loss

Well, that wasn't pretty, and it was much closer than it should have been. It's your four days late analysis of a brutal UMass loss to a hated in-state rival.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It's taken me three days to manage to collect my thoughts after this game. The Massachusetts Minutemen looked bad on most fronts. The 6-0 first half score was an illusion, it easily could have been 17-0, and the second half showed it. Let's break down what didn't work, and see if we can find something to hang our hopes on for the upcoming match-up against the Colorado Buffaloes.

1) Blake Frohnapfel, expected savior of the UMass quarterbacking conundrum, fell flat on his face on his debut. After completing four passes on eight passes, Blake would complete just five more passes on his next 14 attempts.

Name Attempts Yards Touchdowns Interceptions AY/A
A.J. Doyle 235 1274 6 11 3.83
Blake Frohnapfel 22 147 1 1 5.55

Certainly better than A.J. Doyle, but his adjusted yards per attempt (adjusting yards per attempt for touchdowns and interceptions) would've been the 13th best quarterback in the MAC last year. That doesn't count the six other dropbacks where passes were not attempted, which resulted in two runs for nine yards, two sacks for a loss of 15 yards, one run negated by a hold, and a back breaking intentional grounding penalty. Those additional six plays resulted in a net loss of 31 yards.

Meanwhile, as far as the eye test goes, there were things that were Frohnapfel's fault and things that weren't. Having just joined the season this summer, the report with his receivers was certainly lacking, leading to some incomplete passes that you'd expect to be on the positive side of the ledger in a few weeks.  Unfortunately, on long passes it seemed that Frohnapfel was nowhere near his target. Unless he improves his deep accuracy in a hurry, defenses will start crowding the line.

2) The new 3-4 look for UMass certainly had its difficulties against the Boston College Eagle's running game. In 26 first half carries, the Eagles averaged 6.7 yards per carry after penalties (two hold for 20 yards). In the second half, the defense clamped down a bit, letting up only 4.0 yards per carry on 32 carries, but at the cost of its pass defense, which gave up 116 yards including penalties on 10 attempts, forcing only one incompletion. If the front seven can't hold its own without the secondary's help, both units will suffer.

3) On a more personal note, I'd like to apologize to the students who came to the game for, at the very least, my section of fans, if not the rest of the non-student sections. When the game was still in hand, on every third down I saw the student section up and yelling. Meanwhile, my section (110, for the record), couldn't be bothered to stand, let alone make any noise, at any point during the game. For a 6-0 game at half, you'd think the crowd might have some life in them. I nearly lost my voice yelling at people to make some noise for their team.

4) To end on a high note, one of the lone bright spots was J.T. Blyden, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Most of his carries came when the game was well out of hand, with seven of his nine carries coming in the fourth quarter when down by 20. Even still, he averaged over five yards per carry on those attempts. With Jamal Wilson not getting the job done and Lorenzo Woodley in the dog house for reasons unknown, J.T. Blyden has a good chance to show us if he can be a key contributor in the running game. Honorable Mentions go to Randall Jette and Tajae Sharpe.