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

Minutemen adopt new 3-4 scheme

The Massachusetts football team has answered many questions regarding the switch from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Mid-Atlantic Conference, and on a larger scale, from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Although the conference switch is probably the biggest change to the program in recent memory, there is another glaring change which might have been overlooked thus far – the new-look 3-4 defensive scheme.

The formation, which features three down linemen and four linebackers, was reintroduced this year as the team’s base defense primarily due to the return of defensive coordinator Frank Forcucci, who served on the staff from 1999-2003. Last year, the Minutemen operated under a 4-3 scheme (four linemen and three linebackers).

“I like [Forcucci’s] style and how he goes about his business,” said UMass coach Kevin Morris. “He knows UMass — he’s been at UMass and the 3-4 [scheme] certainly is a package that gives you that kind of multiple sets that you can use that I thought we had the personnel that fit those sets. I thought it was a perfect match.”

With one less lineman, more pressure is added on the linebackers to both stop the run while also protecting the pass. Morris said that there is no group better-equipped to handle that pressure than his linebacker corps, which features redshirt junior D.J. Adeoba and redshirt senior Courtney Jackson on the outside and senior Tyler Holmes and junior Perry McIntyre on the inside.

“In the spring there was a lot ofchoking it down and trying to swallow it and digest it, figure out where I’m supposed to be, when I’m supposed to be there,” Morris said about the new scheme. “We took the progression from the spring through the fall, which is really what you’re looking for, and that’s because the guys stayed on top of it. They did a lot of working out on their own, going through the calls and such so that when they come out here they’ve been right on point.”

The Minutemen expect the transition of defenses to be fluid and impressive from the start of the season.

Holmes, a two-time All-American, has seen his fair share of defensive changes, excelling first as an outside linebacker his sophomore year, second as a middle linebacker last year in the 4-3 scheme and now as a middle linebacker in the 3-4.

Junior linebacker Chad Hunte is expected to be in the defensive rotation and after opening some eyes in training camp, he is excited for the opportunity to play in the 3-4 formation.

“I’m liking [the defense],” said Hunte in a UMass Athletics interview. “It’s a real fast defense. We’re blitzing a lot, [there’s] a lot of movements, a lot of sacks and hits on the quarterback.”

The Minutemen favor the variety and options the 3-4 provides, especially for the linebackers.

“There’s a lot of different looks, you can blitz off the edge, you can drop back in coverage [for interceptions], there’s a lot of different things you can do in 3-4,” said Hunte.

Although UMass was deemed ineligible for the 2011 playoffs because of the conference switch, Holmes and his senior teammates plan on embracing the defensive change and running with it.

“I had a meeting with a bunch of the seniors at my house and we kind of swallowed the pill back in December that we wouldn’t be eligible for postseason play and the attitude of everyone was very positive,” said Holmes. “We bonded together, we’re going to play for each other this year, this is the last time we’re going to be competing with some of these schools and we [plan] to go out with a bang.”

Steve Levine can be reached at slevine@student.umass.edu.

 

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