The Massachusetts football team was held scoreless in its season opener at Wisconsin on Saturday.
Now it will have to take the field without one of its most promising young receivers.
UMass coach Charley Molnar said at practice on Tuesday that freshman wide receiver Shakur Nesmith won’t play on Saturday in the Minutemen’s home opener against Maine at 2 p.m.
Nesmith, who made two catches for 14 yards in UMass’ 45-0 loss to the Badgers, left the game early in the second half with a right arm injury and had it in a sling after the game and at practice this week.
Molnar said that either freshman E.J. Burston or sophomore Bernard Davis will take Nesmith’s spot in the depth chart.
“Basically next man up, you know,” Molnar said. “We have E.J. Burston, Bernard Davis, these guys are hungry to play football, so one of those two will take that spot.”
Quarterback Mike Wegzyn feels for his fallen target, but he’s excited to see what the offense will bring with a fresh face in the lineup this week. Wegzyn thinks Burston in particular will get significant playing time this week.
“It looks like we’re gonna move a couple people around,” Wegzyn said. “I think E.J. Burston’s gonna get a lot of play.
“I’m excited about him. He’s got a lot of speed; good receiver; good height; good hands. I’ve been working with him all summer so I’m really excited to have E.J. out there and the core receivers that we have now.”
Molnar had no update on Rob Blanchflower’s injury status. He said the tight end went in for a consultation on Tuesday, so he may have a clearer picture by Thursday.
Running back Jordan Broadnax’s status is “still up in the air,” according to Molnar.
Both players missed the game against Wisconsin.
There are two options for students who want to attend this Saturday’s home opener at Gillette Stadium: the Minuteman Express or your own transportation.
The Minuteman Express is a coach bus service that picks students up at McGuirk Stadium and brings them directly to Gillette Stadium for the game starting two and a half hours prior to kickoff.
Registration is $10 payable via UCard or credit card and includes round-trip bus transportation, a game ticket and meal vouchers. The deadline is 11 a.m. on Thursdays before each home game and can be done at www.umass.edu/minutemanexpress.
Buses will start heading back to campus as they fill during the second half of the game.
Those driving to Gillette on their own can pick up a free ticket with your UCard at the Mullins Center Box Office on Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or at the Gillette Stadium Box Office in Minutefan Park, located near Lot 4.