Scrolling Headlines:

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 woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

UMass heads into bye week at No.8, Holmes earning more accolades

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

At the unofficial midway point of the season, the Massachusetts football team has been a modest surprise.
After losing multiple seniors and starters from last year’s squad, UMass has had a successful first half en route to a 4-1 record entering its bye week.

The Minutemen are climbing in the rankings, despite staying put at No. 8 in the latest polls following a 27-14 victory over Towson on Saturday.

Other than UMass, six Colonial Athletic Association teams are ranked, including No. 2 Delaware, No. 4 William & Mary, No. 6 Villanova, No. 7 James Madison, No. 11 Richmond and No. 22 New Hampshire.

Though UMass coach Kevin Morris isn’t completely satisfied with his team’s performance up to this point, he is glad to see them getting better week-by-week.

“For us, it’s all been about just evolving as a squad and maturing as a team,” Morris said in a teleconference earlier in the week. “Am I happy at this point? Yeah. We’ve played well enough to win games. We obviously didn’t win the Michigan game, but had some good positives come out of that game.”

The Minutemen will look to continue their strong play when they return to action for homecoming against Richmond on Oct. 16. The contest will mark the first of six-consecutive CAA matchups for UMass to close out the regular season.

Holmes earning praise

Following a career-game against Towson, linebacker Tyler Holmes garnered more national attention, building upon the recognition he received in the preseason.

In addition to being named the UMass Co-Athlete of the Week, the junior earned the FCS National Linebacker of the Week award and was added to the 2010 Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. The honor is awarded to the top FCS defensive player and will be announced at the national awards banquet on Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas.

Against the Tigers, Holmes recorded a career-high 18 tackles, including three for losses, while adding a sack to lead the Minutemen defense.

“Another great job by Tyler and he’s the leader of our defense and he’s playing that way throughout the season and the first five games, whether he’s catching tipped balls for interceptions,” Morris said. “Tyler’s just being Tyler and having a lot of fun playing great football and again, we’re certainly relying on him to do that.”

So far this season, the Blacksburg, Va. native is averaging just over 10 tackles per game, ranking him second in the CAA with 51 total tackles. Holmes is also the only linebacker tied with the conference lead in interceptions with three.

Securing the ball

Coming into the year, Morris emphasized the need to hold on to the ball and control the possession.

“As we’ve talked about in the preseason, based on our issues from last year, 2009 and 2010, we’ve been all about the ball,” Morris said. “That’s been our focal point with everything that we do. Still the ball is going to pop loose and we just have to continue to focus on it and get better with it because that will cost us and it almost did on [Saturday], but the kids fought back and overcame it.”

Last season, UMass had a poor turnover margin at minus 11, second to last in the CAA only ahead of Towson. Through five games this year, the Minutemen are once again only ahead of the Tigers in the turnover margin at minus two.

Quarterback Kyle Havens hasn’t been as big of a detriment to the margin with three interceptions, compared to a total of 15 in 2009.

Regardless, UMass will try to improve retaining the possession in its final six games, including fixing a conference-worst five fumbles lost.

Jay Asser can be reached at jasser@student.umass.edu.

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