Scrolling Headlines:

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 23, 2017

SGA president selects new vice president -

January 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball blows 15 point fourth quarter lead, loses in double overtime to George Washington -

January 23, 2017

UMass club hockey falls to NYU 3-2 in first game back from vacation -

January 23, 2017

Cyr: Expectations for UMass men’s basketball remain consistent throughout 2016-17 season -

January 23, 2017

The death penalty is not the answer -

January 23, 2017

Donald Trump is gutting journalism with his Twitter -

January 23, 2017

Winter break’s most overlooked releases -

January 23, 2017

Hardly anything in ‘Rogue One’ scores a direct hit -

January 23, 2017

Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday -

January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

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

Andrew Ford ready to face challenge of playing in hostile environment when UMass football plays South Carolina this Saturday

(Christina Yacono/Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/Collegian)

As the Massachusetts football team continues its journey as an FBS independent school, the amount of road games against power five opponents in hostile environments will continue to pile up as the Minutemen continue through their schedule.

But for UMass (1-6), playing in front of sell-out crowds in some of college football’s most historic stadiums isn’t something the Minutemen are unfamiliar with.

Dating back to 2014 when Minutemen coach Mark Whipple rejoined the program, UMass has made trips to Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, South Bend’s Notre Dame Stadium as well as a trip to “The Swamp” when it opened up this season with a matchup against, at the time, No. 25 Florida in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Come Saturday, the Minutemen can add South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium to their list of monumental venues they’ve played at throughout the country.

“I don’t think it’s just any other game when you are playing in front of 80 or 90 thousand. It’s different than here,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said after Tuesday’s practice. “It’s on the road so on offense you have to deal with some silent counts and some elements, and Andrew [Ford] hasn’t done that.”

It’s almost certain that Saturday will likely be Andrew Ford’s first career road start, as Ross Comis didn’t dress in the Minutemen’s loss to Louisiana Tech over the weekend. Whipple said Comis was doing “better” on Tuesday, but having him healthy enough to play against Gamecocks (2-4, 1-4 Southeastern Conference) seems like an unlikely scenario.

“It’s one of those powerhouse traditional schools and it’s going to be a really neat experience come Saturday,” Ford said after Tuesday’s practice. “I have a lot of friends from back home that play at South Carolina and go to school there, so it will be a neat atmosphere. We’re looking forward to it.”

Comis was the starter when UMass opened up the season with a 24-7 loss against the Gators, as Ford didn’t make an appearance in the game. Having played only home games and at Old Dominion, Ford has turned to Comis for advice on dealing with the uncontrollable noise factor the Minutemen will face against South Carolina.

“Ross has been giving me lots of advice on how to handle it,” Ford said. “He did great with it at Florida.”

Ford added: “There’s nothing we can really do. For practice we can make the music really loud as we can, but until we get 80,000 screaming fans out there, we’re not going to be able to do too much. That can’t play into our preparation. We just have to handle what we can handle in the week and when we get down there on Saturday, just be ready to play football.”

Whipple said that although Ford has never been faced with a test like the Gamecocks, he does feel more confident in the pieces surrounding his redshirt-sophomore quarterback, including left guard Raquan Thomas and right tackle Jack Driscoll, who made their first career starts against Florida.

“Our guys up front have done that, but it’s not like Florida where Raquan [Thomas] had played seven games and Jack Driscoll has now played seven, so we’ve shuffled those guys around,” Whipple said. “You’re still talking about bigger and faster, and that’s what they are.”

Andrew Cyr can be reached at arcyr@umass.edu, and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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