Although BC enters this Saturday's game as a strong favorite, we know better than to take the Minutemen lightly. In order to get a better perspective on the team down the Pike, I've asked UMass blogger UMass74 to answer a few questions about our latest opponent.
1. Appalachia State-Michigan is in the back of every BC fan's mind. UMass runs a more conventional offense than App. St. What can BC fans expect from the Minutemen have the ball?
UMass74: Appalachia State runs a spread offense. They have excellent team speed and they run that offense to perfection -- as Michigan found out. In the National Championship Game, UMass held the Mountaineers to less points and yards than did Michigan. However, we only scored seventeen points and that's not enough against an excellent team like Appalachian State.
UMass mostly does a two-back offense. We try to establish the run first and then pass. We are third in the CAA in scoring offense with 37.7 points/game. We've averaged 178.9 yards/game rushing and 4.9 yards a carry. Our best TB is Sr. Matt Lawrence 6-1 220 transfer from UConn. He averages 6.3 yards a carry and has 5 TDs. Our second back is Tony Nelson a 5-10 210 pd TB who averages 6.1 yards a carry.
Our QB Liam Coen is on track to break just about every UMass passing record. He's completed 68% of his passes for a 160.23 pass efficiency rating so far this year. He does not scramble unless he has to.
UMass' leading receivers are SR J.J. Moore 6-0 201 who currently has 25 receptions for 336 yards and 2 TDs. Moore also stands high in UMass record books. Our other wideout is Rasheed Rancher who stands 6-5 200 and has excellent speed. He has two of the top five longest receptions in UMass history.
One negative note is our First-Team All-American TE Brad Listorti 6-4 255 has a back injury and has not played a down for us. He will not be back until at least the middle of October. He would have been a help against BC.
Our special teams are excellent. Our kicker Chris Koepplin is four-for-four in field goals and is averaging 64.9 yards per kickoff. J.J. Moore is our punt returner and he has one TD. Our primary kick returner is DB Courtney Robinson 6-0 195. He has a 100 yard return for a TD.
Overall, if we get Listorti back, this offense seems to be as good, if not better than the one that took us to the National Championship Game.
2. Some bad DIAA/playoff subdivision teams have moved the ball and scored against UMass. How do you think they'll plan to attack a BC team scoring 30+ a game?
UMass74: I don't agree with the first part of that question. Holy Cross, Colgate, Towson and Maine are a combined 7-3 against their non-UMass schedule. They are 0-4 against UMass. Towson has suffered some severe injury problems and is going down hill, but they were healthy when they played us. It is true that Maine is not a good team this year compared to the squad that went toe-to-toe with Nebraska a couple years ago.
UMass plays aggressive defense. We'll blitz off the bus. Against Towson we blitzed 50+ times. UMass typically plays 17 or 18 different defensive players in a game and will run many defensive packages.
We do have six new starters this year and pass coverage has been spotty. However, as the players get more experience together things have improved. Points scored against UMass have gone 30-17-13-7. We are 1st in forced fumbles in the CAA and #2 in scoring defense (16.8), rushing defense (83.8 yards/game), and total defense.
Our defense has excellent team speed. Last year we held Navy to 289 total yards --their lowest total in two years at that time.
3. Umass is always supposedly considering a jump to DIA. Where do you stand on the idea?
UMass74: I'm an agnostic on the idea. I really like the FCS/I-AA playoff system. Bowl games are just exhibition games. The big problem with staying where we are is the instability in the program. About once a decade we have to go through a "Oh-my-god, we don't have any money, lets kill the football program!" period. That's really dismaying. University of Albany just petitioned NY for a $60 million stadium. They'll likely get it. I don't think UMass will get the any support from the state legislature. Massachusetts is "special" in that regard.
4. What's your prediction for Saturday?
UMass74: Well, Boston College has a very good club this year. The Eagles (like most BCS/I-A teams) should have a significant advantage in size and talent on the offensive and defensive lines. Also those extra 22 scholarships make a difference. They have a Heisman candidate at QB. We match up well with the Service Academies. Not so well with Boston College. Still, we have the potential to win the game if BC does not pay attention. FCS/I-AA teams have been knocking off I-A teams at a rate of one or two a week this year.
My heart says UMass wins 24-21 on a last minute field goal. My mind says BC just has too much talent this year and the Eagles win 35-17.
To read more on UMass and even see some old BC football programs, check out the UMass Football Blog.