It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times. After much hype and hope, the Minutemen fell flat on their face against the Eagles. All is not lost, however, since the football gods decided that the Minutemen shall play football another day. The Colorado Buffaloes roam into the east coast this Saturday to take on our boys in Maroon. Let's break down the matchups.
Minutemen Offense vs. Buffaloes Defense
Last year, Colorado was one of the worst defenses at stopping the run, giving up 5.3 yards per carry. This continued last Saturday, as Colorado State let Dee Hart run wild, compiling 139 yards on 22 carries, and an additional 121 yards on 17 carries from Treyous Jarrells. If the Mintuemen want to succeed against the Buffaloes, we should be seeing a healthy dose of Jamal Wilson and J.T. Blyden. This is a great matchup for the Minutemen as well, as it takes some of the load off Blake Frohnapfel's shoulders, who was asked to do too much against BC. If the running game can cause some trouble for the Buffaloes, Frohnapfel can do less and get into a rhythm, and the Minutemen might be able to pull this out.
Random Thought #1: Our Minutemen lack any good cheers. We do the Go! Go U! Go UMass! Cheer when the band plays. We have the U....MASS...when one side yells to the other, though that works much better at basketball games. Finally we yell "That's another UMass...First Down." That's not much. Mark Whipple noticed and suggested this:
At the start of the 2nd quarter, we'll begin a new tradition. Together- "On 2....MASS" #UMassNation #Dare2Shout pic.twitter.com/Dd6BOm91Dr— Mark Whipple (@CoachWhipUMass) September 4, 2014
That's all well and good, Mr. Whipple, and I'll cheer your cheer. I'm going to suggest another, though. Any time Tajae Sharpe makes a catch, we all cheer HIP HIP....TAJAE. We can make this happen.
Minutemen Defense vs. Buffaloes Offense
The Minutemen have proven that teams that rely on the run will cause issues for their front seven. Despite the small sample size of one game, we knew going into the season that the defensive line would have issues, and it showed. Meanwhile, while Boston College is not a passing team, they struggled against the Minutemen's back four when they were playing pass protection (later in the game they creeped up to help with the run game, and only then did the Eagles find success through the air). What fortuitous luck, then, that the Buffaloes strength comes through the air. Last week Sefo Liufau, the Buffaloes quarterback, threw for 241 yards on 39 attempts, 24 completions. His target of choice was Nelson Spruce, who has taken a hold of the top wide receiver position and isn't going to let go. If Randall Jette and the Bennie's (and if you get that pun, I should apologize to you) can lock down Spruce, the Minutemen will be able to keep this close.
Being an equal opportunity previewer, I will take a look at the Buffaloes running situation. After all, the Buffaloes might watch tape of last week game and decide ground and pound is the way to go. Should that happen, Michael Adkins II toted the rock a team high 16 times and produced 68 yards, or 4.3 yards per carry. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at, but taking out quarterback scrambles, the Buffaloes ran a mere 25 times, compared to 46 dropbacks (passes + quarterback runs). Speaking of quarterback runs, the biggest threat on the ground is Liufau, who ran seven times for 47 yards, or 6.7 yards per carry. The Minutemen have struggled with running quarterbacks in the past, and if the front seven can't contain, it'll be a long day for the Maroon and White.
Random Though #2: UMass football's marketing needs to start doing more gimmicks. Boston College outclassed us in the stands last week in their yellow shirts. We need more blackouts, maroon outs, white outs, something. Anyone in the comments have a good gimmick?
The Buffaloes present a winnable opportunity for the Minutemen. Hell, I predicted a win in the way too early season preview. Having seen the Minutemen play, though, I'm not buying it. Until UMass can show they can create more than two scoring chances a game, I can't predict a win. There was a reason I focused on the defense in this preview and not the offense; there just isn't that much to write about Blake Frohnapfel and company until they prove themselves. Colorado 28, UMass 14.