Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass football tries to replace Coen

The 2009 version of the Massachusetts football team bears a striking resemblance to the team that took the field a year ago.

It returns 15 starters (eight on offense, six on defense, one on special teams) starting the season ranked in the Preseason Sports Network Media Poll Top 25 with returning staples on both sides of the ball in running back Tony Nelson and safety Jeromy Miles.

But for every similarity between the 2008 Minutemen and this year’s squad, there are also major differences.

The most obvious difference is the one calling all the shots. Don Brown, who coached UMass to four-straight winning seasons and an appearance in the 2006 Football Championship Subdivision National Championship game, has moved on to become the defensive coordinator at Maryland. Kevin Morris, last year’s offensive coordinator, steps in with hopes of filling Brown’s shoes.

While Morris was in charge of one of the most prolific offenses in UMass history, it may not be the same case this season. Instead of having Liam Coen, the owner of nearly every passing record in the Minutemen’s book, Morris had two quarterbacks vying to fill the large void left by Coen’s graduation.

Senior Scott Woodward, who served as Coen’s backup his entire career at UMass battled with junior college transfer Kyle Havens for the starting position under center. Havens came out on top and now has the task of trying to be Coen, something that is no easy job. But Havens will have the luxury of a number of veterans around him. With 20 seniors on the team and as many as 14 of them starters – seven on each side of the ball – UMass will have plenty of experience to help ease in Havens

On offense, the loss of Coen will be lessened by the play of Nelson, a Preseason First-Team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection and the duo of All-American Victor Cruz and All-Conference Jeremy Horne at wideout.

“Those are guys who have handled the load. They got the ball a lot last year, so they know what it is like to get the ball in clutch situations and big games, and that can definitely take some heat off the quarterback,” Morris said at the team’s Media Day in Amherst. “The quarterback can come in and get use to being the leader so it doesn’t have to be all on the quarterback.”

Despite falling out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2005 last year, the veteran experience of this year’s squad has brought UMass back into the polls. In the Preseason Sports Network Media Poll, the Minutemen came in at No. 17, 13 spots back from where they began last year.

But UMass is not alone in the polls when it comes to the CAA. Six other teams rank in the Top 25, with Richmond, the defending National Champions, coming in at No. 2. Villanova follows at No. 5 with James Madison (No. 6), New Hampshire (No. 8) and William and Mary (No. 14) all ahead of the Minutemen. Maine rounds out the CAA teams in the Top 25 at No. 19.

“The league is again going to be just a juggernaut of a league. From the top to bottom you can’t take a day off,” Morris said. “Based on record, we can play the best team in the league against the worst and that game is going down to the wire and this year is no different.”

If the rankings hold true, the Minutemen will have a tough, month-long stretch starting in the middle of October and extending to the end of the season. In the team’s sixth game of the year, UMass will play host to New Hampshire – which is the team picked to win ahead of UMass in the CAA North, followed by back-to-back games on the road against Richmond and Maine, respectively. The Minutemen lost to all three teams last season.

UMass then returns home to face Northeastern followed by defending CAA-South Champion James Madison. The Minutemen will finish the season with an away game at Hofstra.

The toughest game on the schedule for UMass came this past weekend when the team traveled to Kansas to take on Kansas State of the Football Bowl Subdivision. Following the matchup with Kansas State, the Minutemen play three straight at home against Albany, Rhode Island and lastly Stony Brook. UMass then travels to Delaware before its contest with New Hampshire.

Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at

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