Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Andrew Ford, Ross Comis still battling for UMass football’s starting QB position

(Christina Yacono/Collegian)
(Christina Yacono/Collegian)

The Massachusetts football team begins its preparation for Mississippi State, uncertain which starting quarterback will be lining up under center come game time Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

After an injury to starting quarterback Ross Comis, whose status is still up in the air in regards to his availability for Saturday’s game, Lackawanna Community College transfer Andrew Ford dazzled in his Division I debut.

Ford finished his outing throwing for 278 yards and three touchdowns while completing 66.7 percent of his passes (28-for-42) in helping UMass (1-2) win its first game of the season over Florida International, 21-13 last Saturday at McGuirk Stadium.

The redshirt sophomore rebounded nicely after throwing an interception on his first drive. Ford marched the Minutemen down to the FIU 32-yard line before being intercepted by Deonte Wilson.

That was the lone blemish on the stat sheet for Ford, whose most impressive drive came at the end of the first half.

With the Panthers pinning UMass back to its own 13-yard line, Ford began to use his complement of weapons to increase the Minutemen lead. With two minutes, 27 seconds remaining in the half, Ford drove the team 87 yards, culminating in a 31-yard strike to Andy Isabella to put UMass ahead 14-3 at intermission.

Ford is more confident now in his abilities after winning his first collegiate start.

You always have confidence going into a game with a game plan, but going out there and actually executing and playing well with our group of guys has helped us have a good weekend and get an early build on today,” Ford said.

“There’s always room for improvement in every aspect of the game. For me personally, just managing the game a little bit better, certain situations, stuff that we’ve talked about since I’ve been here with coach Whipple,” Ford added. “Overall, I need to improve on everything but managing the game in certain situations is definitely something that was emphasized on Sunday.”

Minutemen coach Mark Whipple said he is still not sure who will get the start when UMass takes on Mississippi State, but did say Comis took a step further in getting himself better prepared to suit up Saturday. If the game were today, Ford would be the starter, Whipple said.

“Yeah he did a lot more than he did last week,” Whipple said of Comis. “Not [throwing] any deep balls, but better.”

He added: “We’ll just have to see. I’m sure he could back up and do some things, so we’ll just see where he’s at as the week goes.”

The playbook isn’t expected to be much different depending on whether Comis or Ford is under center. Both quarterbacks have similar skill sets and the base offense Whipple runs suits both signal callers well.

“I don’t think it’s too different,” Ford said. “We have our base offense, which is pretty much the same for every quarterback. With me being left handed, there’s certain things that are a little different but for the most part, Ross and I are very similar in our styles of play I think. We both like the same stuff. We weren’t throwing out too much and we were adding too much stuff either.”

Ford will have to face the fortunes that Comis did in his first two weeks in going up against Power Five conference opponents in Boston College and Florida.

After fairing well against FIU last week, Ford knows he has an even tougher test ahead if indeed he is the guy leading UMass onto the field Saturday.

“Mississippi State is a great team,” he said. “They have a great defense. They’re really well coached. So we’re just going to have to have even that much better of a week of practice. I don’t think there’s anything I can do differently than preparation from last week. You have to treat every week the same and prepare no matter who you’re playing for the same thing.”

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

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