Scrolling Headlines:

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

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PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

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New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

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Whose American Dream? -

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Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

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Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

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Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

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Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

Despite loss, UMass looked like it belonged

Taylor Snow/Collegian

After the Massachusetts football team lost its first three games of this season decisively, there were some that wanted to rip the team’s move to the Football Bowl Subdivision – one some believed was more about dollars than sense – even more.

Not only was this team losing, but the games weren’t even close and the outcomes were obvious by halftime. The Michigan blowout is understandable to many. But the losses to Connecticut and Indiana didn’t draw support for the unconvinced. Those losses were more fuel for the fire.

Anyone with some sense of where this team is at in the rebuilding stage knows that its first three losses – which were by a combined 145-19 score – aren’t catastrophic to the future of UMass football.

The talent gap was so wide. UMass is playing with mostly freshmen and inexperienced, first-year players that were recruited for the Football Championship Subdivision level. So it was hard to imagine the team earning a winning record after the first three games.

So the focus shifted.

The team didn’t hang its head over the losses and instead looked to learn from its mistakes and experiences. The Minutemen moved on and prepared for the portion of their schedule that UMass coach Charley Molnar said would be even more important for the future of his program: the Mid-American Conference schedule.

“At the end of the day, you need to win your league, that’s how you get measured,” Molnar said last Wednesday. “So how we do in our league is very, very important to us, to find out where we’re at and how we stack up against other Mid-American Conference teams.”

And with all things considered, they don’t stack up too badly.

For the first time this season, UMass stayed competitive for nearly all four quarters on Saturday in its 27-16 loss to Miami (Ohio), and it was by far the best game it has played this season.

Granted, the Redhawks are a step below the teams UMass played to start the season, but it was a noteworthy step for the Minutemen considering these are the caliber teams that they will be facing for the foreseeable future as a member of the conference.

The team did face similar mistakes from the non-conference schedule.

Seven times, the Minutemen drove inside the Miami 30-yard line on Saturday. They scored two touchdowns, but youthful mistakes cost them more points, including a first quarter touchdown that was called back for a penalty. It would have given them their first lead of the season, but instead they ended up missing a field goal and getting nothing out of it.

Quarterback Mike Wegzyn, perhaps too confident in how he was improving week-by-week, tossed three interceptions, including a costly one early in the fourth quarter inside the Miami 5-yard line that wasted a chance to get back in the game.

And while he made some impressive throws through difficult coverage, Wegzyn looked like a freshman when big plays presented themselves, especially deep in Miami territory or on fourth down.

Just like last week, too, the team made headway in certain areas.

Michael Cox had the most productive day of his career, rushing for 188 yards and two touchdowns, including one in which he pulled off a front flip over a Miami defender and into the end zone.

The Minutemen were a productive 11-of-19 on third down. They also gained more yards than the RedHawks (471 to 408).

These are all good things. Sure, the loss will sting for a few days, just like the first three did, but eventually, it will subside again, and they will work on improving.

UMass may have let an opportunity slip on Saturday, but for once, it looked like it belonged, and with it being against a team in the MAC, that was important.

If it’s an indication for the future, this team will be just fine.

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at shewitt@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @steve_hewitt.

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