November 29, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

UMass looks ahead to 2015, for better or for worse -

Friday, November 28, 2014

UMass football falls 41-21 in season finale against Buffalo -

Friday, November 28, 2014

Minutemen defense comes up short in 41-21 loss to Buffalo -

Friday, November 28, 2014

UMass formally cuts ties with alumnus Bill Cosby -

Friday, November 28, 2014

Stanley Andre reflects on his career as Senior Day approaches -

Thursday, November 27, 2014

UMass tight end Jean Sifrin mulls future, potential NFL career -

Thursday, November 27, 2014

UMass basketball trounces Northeastern 79-54 -

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Students and staff discuss racial and social inequality following Ferguson decision -

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

UMass hockey falls to Vermont, 3-1 -

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

No indictment for Ferguson cop -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chancellor addresses campus regarding grand jury decision in death of Michael Brown -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Northern Illinois hangs on against Ohio, Hunt carries Toledo to victory -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SGA passes 10 motions at meeting Monday night -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Students and UMPD work together during the annual ‘Walk for Light’ -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

‘Conscious Consumer’ talk promotes business sustainability -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UMass hockey looks to rebound against Vermont following Saturday’s blowout at home -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UMass women’s soccer’s Sverrisdóttir balances a soccer career between two different countries -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

‘First Demo’ provides a fascinating glimpse of Fugazi in its infancy -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My mental illness does define me (to an extent) -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How to master multitasking -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Strong start, tough finish for Minutemen campaign

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Though the Massachusetts football team put forth a notable effort and made an impression this season, it came up one win short of advancing to the postseason

“In the end, it was a disappointing season because we didn’t achieve our goal of making the playoffs,” UMass head coach Kevin Morris said.

In the first half of the year, it seemed the No. 19-ranked Minutemen (6-5, 4-4 Colonial Athletic Association) were well on their way after 4-1 record heading into the bye week. The lone loss came in a closely-contested shootout against a storied Michigan program on the road, 42-37. Despite dropping the most anticipated game on its schedule, UMass played well enough to raise some eyebrows.

Throughout the season, the Minutemen played games down to wire, something that Morris was pleased to see.

“We had some really quality games,” Morris said. “We had a lot of great individual efforts … The one thing we talked about was that we played hard for 60 minutes, so we’re very happy about that.”

The second half of the season, however, was a different story entirely. The Minutemen went 2-4, dropping their first two games out of the bye week and the final two contests of the year.

In the regular season finale against Rhode Island on the road, UMass needed a victory to make a strong a case to be selected by the Football Championship Subdivision committee for a postseason berth.

“The Rhode Island game and the Richmond game are the two games that stand out as games that we didn’t execute like we were capable of executing during the year,” Morris said. “If we would have done that at that point, we would have won those games, but we did not.”

In the disappointing loss to the Rams, the Minutemen allowed a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Steve Probst to Brandon Johnson-Farrell with one minute, 10 seconds left in the contest. URI then punched in the 2-point conversion to earn the three-point win and end UMass’ season.

Against the Spiders right after the bye week, the Minutemen also allowed a game-winning drive. After not completing a pass until the final drive of the game, fourth-string freshman quarterback Montel White led the Spiders down the field and connected with Tre Gray for a 15-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds remaining for the 11-10 victory.

While UMass was arguably playing its best football of the year in the first half of the season, the bye week seemed to hurt the Minutemen. Morris, however, views the tough conference schedule in the second half as the reason for his team’s struggles down the stretch.

“I don’t think the bye week had much to do with it,” Morris said. “It was just a matter of continuing the focus and playing hard and well and playing as a team. In the second half we had all our conference games and those are usually the best teams on our schedule.”

Individually, various UMass players had career seasons. Quarterback Kyle Havens, after throwing for nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his first year as the starter in 2009, led the CAA in passing yards per game (244.7) and touchdowns (20). The senior was also called by multiple opposing head coaches as the most improved player in the conference.

Havens’ main target this season was senior Anthony Nelson, who transferred from Hofstra prior to the start of the year. The wide receiver led the league with 61 catches for 830 yards and four touchdowns, while being named to the ESPN Academic All-American Football First Team and New England Writers All-Star Team.

On defense, linebacker Tyler Holmes amassed 110 tackles, tied with fellow linebacker Mike Mele for the team-high. For his efforts, the junior co-captain was named a New England Writers All-Star, CAA Co-Defensive Player of the Year and team MVP.

The Minutemen also garnered national attention this season with their matchup against Michigan and their contest versus New Hampshire at Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots.

“It was great exposure for our kids and great experience for our kids, as well as for the program,” Morris said.

Though the future of the program is still up in the air with rumors of a possible move to the Mid-American Conference, Morris and Co. will look to make another run at the postseason next year in the CAA.

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

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