Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Notebook: Ford ‘takes step forward,’ Williams appears on SportsCenter

By Andrew Cyr

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(Christina Yacono/ Daily Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/ Daily Collegian)

For the second time this season, Massachusetts football coach Mark Whipple did not hold his weekly coach’s conference call.

Mark Whipple and members of UMass (1-3) will first speak to the media Tuesday in preparation for the Minutemen’s homecoming game this Saturday against Tulane at McGuirk Stadium.

Alas, here’s some leftover pieces from UMass’ 47-35 loss against Mississippi State this past Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

Quarterback update

Andrew Ford made his second consecutive start for the Minutemen in place of the injured Ross Comis, finishing 24-for-40 (60 percent) with 273 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Ford’s first interception occurred when wide receiver Andy Isabella slipped while running his route. The second came when he led tight end Adam Breneman by a few yards, with the final coming late in fourth with UMass down two scores, and trying to take attempts downfield.

Also for the second straight week, Comis only dressed in pads during warmups, where he took snaps under-center behind the Minutemen’s backups. Once Ford and Randall West broke off with receivers, Comis stopped participating in football-related actions and did not attempt any passes.

UMass’ points scored (35) and total yards (411) were the most the Bulldogs have allowed in any game this season, including a pair against a pair of Southeastern Conference foes in South Carolina and at-the-time No. 20 Louisiana State. Ford’s four touchdown passes were also the most allowed by the MSU defense.

“He did a lot of good things,” Whipple said after Saturday’s game. “Some really good things, especially after the pick six. He didn’t drop his head and just led the team. There wasn’t any panic on the sideline. Our guys believe in both our quarterbacks. He took a step forward. At the end there, we we’re trying to maybe make a big play. I gave him a couple plays he’s probably only had one time that we thought we were trying to get a coverage out of them. He just needs a little more experience. I thought he battled. He played hard, all our guys did. I’m proud of them. I had a good time coaching the game. We just have to play better. We have to get back to work tomorrow afternoon.”

Casali, Lowery continue steady play      

With Shane Huber entering last Saturday’s game as a game-time decision, fellow linebackers Teddy Lowery and Steve Casali were forced to have bigger roles with the Minutemen’s defensive leader taking roughly every-other series off.

Lowery finished with nine tackles, while Casali notched nine of his own and recovered a fumble for the second straight week. Casali also led UMass with three pass breakups, with the biggest coming on a MSU’s second drive when he broke up a third-and-goal pass from Nick Fitzgerald to Ashton Shumpert to hold the Bulldogs to a field goal.

Lowery (30) and Casali (28) are the Minutemen’s top two tacklers to date this season, however against MSU, safety Jesse Monteiro led all UMass players with 11 tackles.

William’s catch appears on SportsCenter

Since returning from his redshirt season in 2015, wide receiver Jalen Williams’ impact has been evident on the field for UMass, especially since Ford took over at quarterback.

After recording a touchdown on his lone receptions against Florida International, Williams finished with two scores against the Bulldogs, with his second earning the fourth spot on ESPN’s top ten plays Sunday morning.

“I didn’t see it until the replay,” Ford said after the game. “He’s been telling me all year to just give him a chance and that’s what I did today. He’s a great football player and he made a couple great plays today.”

Cruz, Sharpe update

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz finished with three receptions for 70 yards as the Giants lost their first game of the season against the Redskins in week three.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Tajae Sharpe will have to wait for his first career touchdown reception, however the fifth-round draft continues to be one of quarterback Marcus Mariota’s top targets.

Sharpe reeled in two of his three catches on the Titans final drive with the second bringing Tennessee to the Oakland Raiders 3-yard line. He finished with 48 yards and seven targets, however the Titans lost 17-10 after a touchdown was nullified for offensive pass interference with 27 seconds remaining. 

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

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