Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s soccer falls to No. 6 Syracuse in season opener -

August 27, 2016

UMass football boasts young, balanced rushing attack going into 2016 season -

August 9, 2016

UMass football looks to add more size, depth on defensive side heading into 2016 -

August 9, 2016

UMass football gets back in action with start of training camp -

August 9, 2016

UMass football coach Mark Whipple announces Ross Comis as starting quarterback, transfer Andrew Ford close behind -

August 8, 2016

Amherst PD to encourage registering off-campus parties with implementation of Party Smart Registration program -

July 23, 2016

UMass Board of Trustees votes 11-2 to raise tuition and fees an average of 5.8 percent -

July 14, 2016

Mike Stone announces retirement following 2017 season -

July 13, 2016

‘Warcraft’ delivers a likeable mess -

July 5, 2016

Former UMass field hockey coach Carla Tagliente accepts job at Princeton -

June 29, 2016

50 Activists attend meeting as UMass Board of Trustees approves motion of divestment from fossil fuel companies -

June 16, 2016

Four former Minutemen depart from UMass hockey program -

June 14, 2016

Boston Calling 2016 delivers rousing farewell to City Hall Plaza -

June 2, 2016

Sufjan Stevens unearths quirk at Boston Calling -

June 2, 2016

The Collegian live tweets Boston Calling -

May 28, 2016

UMass baseball finishes season with sweep over George Mason -

May 22, 2016

UMass women’s lacrosse falls in NCAA quarterfinal -

May 22, 2016

‘Green Room’ is a bloody blast of survival horror -

May 21, 2016

DaLuz: Boston Celtics stuck trudging in the mud -

May 18, 2016

Despite tallying double-digit hits, UMass baseball falls to Fairfield Tuesday afternoon -

May 17, 2016

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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