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UMass hockey shuts down No. 8 Northeastern with 3-0 win -

January 19, 2018

Matt Murray hands Northeastern its first shutout of the season -

January 19, 2018

Minutewomen stunned by last-second free throw -

January 19, 2018

UMass hockey returns home to battle juggernaut Northeastern squad -

January 18, 2018

Slow start sinks Minutemen against URI -

January 17, 2018

UMass three-game win streak snapped in Rhode Island humbling -

January 17, 2018

Trio of second period goals leads Maine to 3-1 win over UMass hockey -

January 16, 2018

Small-ball lineup sparks UMass men’s basketball comeback over Saint Joseph’s -

January 14, 2018

UMass men’s basketball tops St. Joe’s in wild comeback -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s track and field have record day at Beantown Challenge -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79. -

January 14, 2018

UMass hockey beats Vermont 6-3 in courageous win -

January 13, 2018

Makar, Leonard score but UMass can only muster 2-2 tie with Vermont -

January 13, 2018

Pipkins breaks UMass single game scoring record in comeback win over La Salle -

January 10, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy -

January 10, 2018

Report: Makar declines invite from Team Canada Olympic team -

January 10, 2018

Prince Hall flood over winter break -

January 10, 2018

Minutemen look to avoid three straight losses with pair against Vermont -

January 10, 2018

Men’s and women’s track and field open seasons at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2018

Turnovers and poor shooting hurt UMass women’s basketball in another conference loss at St. Bonaventure -

January 8, 2018

Blue Hens to bring potent passing attack on Saturday

When the No. 12 Massachusetts football team travels to Delaware to face the Blue Hens this weekend, two of the most prolific quarterbacks in the Colonial Athletic Association will go head to head.

The Blue Hens, who are currently ranked first in passing offense in the CAA, one spot ahead of the Minutemen, will offer UMass one of its biggest defensive challenges this season.

Both teams feature transfer quarterbacks who are in their first year under center in the Football Championship Subdivision. At the helm for UMass (3-1, 1-0 CAA) is Kyle Havens, a junior college transfer from Diablo Valley College. Delaware (3-2, 1-2 CAA), meanwhile, features Pat Devlin, who spent two years as a backup at Penn State.

While both teams have been consistent in the air so far this season, UMass has had more overall success. The Minutemen are currently at the top of the conference in total offense (419 yards per game) and second in scoring offense (33.8 points per game). Delaware, meanwhile, is ranked fourth in total offense (362.4 yards per game) and seventh in the CAA in scoring offense, (24.8 points per game).

The UMass offense may look better on paper at the moment, but a lack of upper-tier opponents in the first four games has allowed UMass to beat up on some inferior teams. Delaware, meanwhile, has already gone through the toughest part of its season. The Blue Hens narrowly lost to defending champion and top-ranked Richmond, 16-15, and lost two weeks ago to then-No. 5 William & Mary.

UMass, though, has beaten the teams it has had to, and has done so quite handily, using a healthy mix of senior running back Tony Nelson and the quickly-developing Havens.

Taking the load off Nelson, though, isn’t the plan for Morris, who wants to make use of his workhorse back.

“We want to rely on Tony Nelson, he’s a great dimension to our football team and out on our field,” Morris said. “I just said today to someone else that the game plan is to get Tony Nelson the ball, and that hasn’t changed.”

Even with Nelson out of the picture against Stony Brook, the UMass rushing attack hasn’t missed a beat. The Minutemen are averaging 175.5 yards per game on the ground. A lot of that has to do with the success of a solid offensive line, anchored by preseason All-American Vladimir Ducasse, and the success of redshirt sophomore tailback Jon Hernandez stepping in when needed.

Through the three games in which he has played, Nelson has racked up 351 yards on 69 carries with two touchdowns. Hernandez, meanwhile, has 257 yards on the season on 45 carries with five touchdowns.

After losing record-setting quarterback Liam Coen to graduation, the expectations for the Minutemen were less than stellar. But the fact that his team has stormed out of the gate, playing up to a Big XII opponent in the season opener followed by three double-digit wins, is not surprising for Morris.

“It’s expected,” he said of the early success his offense has had. “We expect our offense to click, and we already have enough weapons that have already played at a high level and [have] proven [that] they can play in this league [and] that we should be pretty good offense.”

The offense, though, is still a developing unit. That growth was aided during the last week of practice with UMass’ bye week.

“We’re still growing and at the same time, there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Havens said. “There [are] a lot of things we could be doing better, but we’re playing pretty well right now.”

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

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