Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass football prepares for final regular season game against Buffalo Friday

By Andrew Cyr

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Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian

Blake Frohnapfel has no firsthand knowledge of the rivalry between the Massachusetts football team and Buffalo, but the senior quarterback has done his research and knows exactly what to expect on Friday.

“Yeah, I remember hearing stories from the year before I got here and watching the game last year,” Frohnapfel said Monday via phone interview. “We are expecting a physical game and that’s what we’re preparing for. We’ve talked about it a little bit but it’s more about doing our thing more.”

Frohnapfel is one of 19 Minutemen (2-9, 1-6 Mid-American Conference) seniors that will play in their final collegiate game Friday against Buffalo (5-6, 3-4 MAC).

“It’s crazy to think that I have four or five days left. I feel like the season has gone by so fast and it seems like just yesterday we were in camp. It’s pretty surreal,” Frohnapfel said.

“I don’t think it’s hit us yet but I’m sure when we get to that last practice I’ll be thinking ‘wow, this is the last football practice of my life.’ That’s definitely a really weird experience.”

With UMass falling back to its original ways last weekend in a 20-13 loss to Miami (Ohio), the Minutemen have set their focus this week on cleaning up the offense after the unit totaled just 105 yards in the second half against the RedHawks.

UMass has been outscored 183-76 in the second half of games this season with the third quarter being the driving force behind these struggles, as opponents hold a 119-35 advantage in the third.

After getting sacked a season-high six times last weekend, Frohnapfel said he has spent an extended amount of time this week working with the offensive line in with their communication and his ability to get his passes out of his hands quicker.

Frohnapfel wasn’t available to speak to the media after last weekend’s game because of medical treatment, but he said he’s ready to go Friday and has no precautions.

“I’m feeling old. I’m 23 and getting old,” he joked. “But I think toward the end of the season everyone is feeling a little bit sore and you start to feel it a bit, but I’m fine and not hurt or anything.

Buffalo ranks sixth in the MAC offensively averaging 26.7 points per game with Minutemen head coach Mark Whipple calling quarterback Joe Licata “one of the best quarterbacks in the conference” Monday in the MAC teleconference.

Licata has thrown for 2,682 passing yards this year and 15 touchdowns compared to his 13 interceptions. His top targets are wideouts Matt Weiser (team-leading 57 receptions), Ron Willoughby (team-high six touchdowns) and Marcus McGill (four touchdowns).

The Bulls have lost two consecutive games and allow an average of 27.3 points per game.

“When you watch them on film, they’re a very physical bunch. You kind of watch some games and don’t remember how recent the game was because you’re just watching the games to see what they do defensively,” Frohnapfel said.

Frohnapfel said the UMass offense has harped on finishing plays this week in practice and winning the one-on-one battles, especially with Buffalo being a team that swarms on receivers quickly after completions.

While Friday’s game have no value on postseason implications, Whipple said he was not going to alter his lineup and will stick with his normal starters. Senior defensive back Randall Jette’s status is still unclear after missing the past two games for undisclosed reasons.

“We want to win the game. We are going to play the guys that are healthy and ready to go,” Whipple said. “We’ll have a few days of practice then get ready to have our best performance of the year.”

Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPNU.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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