Last year, the Minutemen of UMass faced off against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame which pitted Tyler’s fandom against my fandom and Tyler (sigh) came out on top. But the joke’s on Tyler because both the Fighting Irish and the Minutemen started 0-1 this year because in case you missed it, Notre Dame lost to an unranked Texas team (at the time) last weekend. While UMass trailed by only three points entering the fourth quarter against the #25 ranked Florida Gators. Regardless, last week is behind them (unless you’re Notre Dame because your playoff hopes are pretty much gone after week one, ouch) and the Minutemen will play host to the Boston College Eagles at Gillette Stadium for week two’s action.
Now as I’m sure you already know, one of our writers has a strong allegiance to Boston College. Kevin and I will be sitting on the edge of seats watching the ‘Battle of the Bay State’ hoping that each of our respective teams can get off of the schneid with a big first win.
Keys for UMass
- Don’t give Patrick Towles too much time to operate, if he gets rushed the Minutemen can force him to make mistakes. Defensive ends Da’Sean Downey and Peter Angeh will need to lead the front seven for UMass if they want to accomplish this. Downey and Angeh are extremely explosive and quick so they have the ability to cause fits for the Eagles offensive-line. And although, Towles won’t run your defense ragged, he can be mobile so it will also be important to prevent him from picking up any short first downs with his legs. If the UMass Minutemen defensive tackles pinch the middle while Angeh and Downey pressure from outside (similar to the Broncos gameplan against the Panthers in Super Bowl 50) I think they could cause the Eagles to turn the ball over a few times early.
- At all costs keep the Eagles out of the endzone. I know this key is MUCH easier said than done but the Boston College Eagles are notorious as of late for how bad their ability to hit field goals are. So three point plays could end up being zero-point plays and strong field position for the Minutemen if their defense can hold strong in the red zone.
- Offensively, UMass Quarterback Ross Comis needs to remain composed and calm. I’m not too worried about this since Comis looked very sharp last weekend against Florida in the hostile environment that is ‘The Swamp’. If Comis can string a few passes together early, he’ll get some needed confidence to shred the Boston College defense. Comis can also extend plays with his ability to scramble and if he gets out in the open I expect his elusiveness to pay off big time.
- UMass needs, needs, NEEDS to get more first downs. Last week, they only got 12 first downs compared to Florida’s 21. I’m not worried about time of possession since they kept it about even with the Gators in week one. Although, I thoroughly expect the Minutemen to control the clock and therefore control the game and I wouldn’t be surprised if UMass has a time of possession somewhere close to forty minutes.
- Win the battle at the line of scrimmage defensively. The Eagles offense is extremely physical and will attempt to wear down the opposing defense. Not only is not being able to stop the run frustrating it is also really tiring for a defense early in the season. If the Minutemen defensive-line can outwork the Boston College offensive-line throughout the game, Downey, Angeh and company shouldn’t have a problem containing the Eagles offense.
I’m really excited for this matchup and I have faith in UMass coach Mark Whipple, the Minutemen although coming off of a loss are really confident after holding their own against a Top 25 ranked team in one of the toughest stadiums to play in for all of college football. I predict that Comis will breakout and best the Boston College defense for over 300 total yards leading to a UMass victory by 5 points.
Cover Photo via Zimbio