Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Havens to remain starter

By Jeffrey R. Larnard

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Kyle Havens saw significant time on the bench for the first time this season on Saturday after throwing four interceptions in the Massachusetts football team’s 34-12 loss to Richmond.

The quarterback gave way to backup Scott Woodward, who Havens battled for the starting job all summer. Despite the bad performance against the No. 1 Spiders (7-0, 5-0 Colonial Athletic Association), Havens got some resounding assurance from his coach that he will be back under center this Saturday when the No. 19 Minutemen (4-3, 2-2 CAA) travel to Maine.

“Kyle Havens is the quarterback,” UMass coach Kevin Morris said before Tuesday’s practice. “Kyle Havens is starting on Saturday.”

Havens’ worst game in a UMass uniform was when the Minutemen traveled to Richmond, throwing for only 78 yards on 10-of-25 passing with four interceptions before being replaced in the third quarter. The 78 yards passing was a large drop from what Havens has averaged this season, 219.1 passing yards per game, the second highest in the CAA.

“It wasn’t a very good game,” Morris said. “[Havens] knew that. That was obvious.”

With four minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter against the Spiders, Woodward came in for Havens, who had thrown two interceptions on the first two drives of the second half. Woodward did not find much more success in the poor weather, as he threw two interceptions of his own, one that was returned 39 yards for a touchdown on his first drive in the game.

Woodward did put together a touchdown drive, going 11-of-23 for 137 yards and one touchdown pass.

“[Woodward’s] job is to get us in the end zone, and we had one touchdown while he was in, so that was a good thing,” Morris said of Woodward’s performance.

For Havens, the interceptions are nothing new to him – he has thrown at least one interception in every game this year – but he had yet to throw more than two in a game this season before Saturday. The four interceptions by Havens came against what is now ranked the second best pass defense in terms of efficiency (108.6) in the CAA, and a Spiders defense that is tied for third most in interceptions with 11.

The Minutemen will have to face the Maine (3-4, 2-2 CAA) squad this weekend that ranks second with 12 interceptions, but seventh with a 120.3 passing defense efficiency.

“We needed a spark last Saturday, and Scott Woodward came in and did a good job giving them some spark, but Kyle is going to be the starting quarterback, and we’ll try to remedy those mistakes,” Morris said of the quarterback situation.

Havens still knows he has the support of his teammates, and has put the game behind him all ready, while looking for a good week in practice.

“I feel like I got a renewed vow of confidence from everybody. They are still behind me, and they have confidence that I can do the job,” Havens said. “That made a real big difference to me. A lot of guys called me and texted me to let me know they still had my back. Saturday is over, it happened, I didn’t play well. I need to prepare better in practice.”

Even Morris reiterated the need for a strong week of practice, but not only by Havens, but by the whole offense. Against Richmond, the only other scoring drive, other than Woodward’s, came on the first drive of the game, when Havens drove down the field leading to an Armando Cuko field goal.

“We didn’t play very well, and we lost so we needed to come back and have a great week of practice and just get in tuned to what we’re doing,” Morris said. [We need to] get the offense clicking during practice so we’re ready to click during the game.”

Jeffrey R. Larnard can be reached at [email protected]

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