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McIntyre becomes second Minutemen to be named CAA Rookie of the Week

FootAFreshman linebacker Perry McIntyre became the second member of the Massachusetts football team to earn Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week honors this year with his performance in UMass’ 44-17 win over Stony Brook.

McIntyre did not start the game, but finished it with a team-high eight tackles after senior linebacker Kurt Filler left with an injury. Freshman linebacker D.J. Adeoba won the honor in the team’s season opener against Kansas State after he returned a blocked punt for a touchdown in the 21-17 loss.

The freshman fit in perfectly with rest of the linebacking corps that is short on experience with sophomore Tyler Holmes and former defensive back Eric Dickson. But, like the rest of the defense, McIntyre’s success didn’t come as a surprise.

“Perry’s been with us from the beginning in terms of, being a true freshman, being ready to step up and step in and has been in the rotation at linebacker and has played as a starter from our special teams right from the get-go, and did a great job the past week, and got, I think, the correct recognition for his efforts,” UMass coach Kevin Morris said.

The ability for players like McIntyre to step in and have such success is something that Morris sees as a major strength for his team. With injuries popping up across the roster, many younger players on the team were asked to step up. For the most part, UMass hasn’t skipped a beat.

“It means that you’ve got a team that’s got some foundation to it,” Morris said. “And when you have holes and then [you have] the young guys to plug up those holes and they actually perform at a really high level. And that’s the difference between a team that can compete for a championship or not.

“At this point in time, when we have all the makings of being able to compete and we’ll see if we can continue how we’ve been playing if those young guys continue to step up and do a great job.”

White-hot offense

Whether it’s because of injury or depth, the Minutemen have spread around the ball on offense in 2009. So far this season, three receivers have 10 or more receptions, running backs Tony Nelson and Jon Hernandez both have over 250 yards rushing and quarterback Kyle Havens has completed at least one pass to 11 different receivers.

It’s worked so far this season, as UMass is currently tied for second in the conference in scoring offense (33.8 points per game).

The Minutemen have been the most prolific offense in the conference in terms of yards (419 yards per game) but have struggled at times to put the ball in the endzone. With 10 field goals off the foot of kicker Armando Cuko, UMass has made the most in the conference.

Running back Tony Nelson currently leads the conference in yards per game on the ground (114) while quarterback Kyle Havens is averaging the most yards per game in the air (243.5)

Defense exceeding expectations

When former coach Don Brown took the defensive coordinator’s job at Maryland, it was expected that the defense, which finished eighth in the conference last year, would drop off even further.

The defense, however, has returned to its old form. After letting up 17 points against Stony Brook, UMass is currently second in the conference in scoring defense, letting up 13.8 points per game.

The Minutemen’s success on defense has been due in large part to the team’s success in forcing turnovers. So far this season, UMass has picked off seven passes, forced and recovered four fumbles and the special teams have a blocked punt.

After the Minutemen trounced Albany 44-7 in their home opener, senior defensive tackle Brandon Collier said that “UMass defense is back.” While they have not yet entered the maw of the CAA schedule, the numbers the Minutemen have put up back such a claim.  

Nick O’Malley can be reached at nomalley@student.umass.edu.

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