Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Notebook: UMass football coach Mark Whipple not tipping hand in quarterback decision for Saturday’s game

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(Christina Yacono/ Daily Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/ Daily Collegian)

To no one’s surprise, Massachusetts football coach Mark Whipple was quick to dismiss any notion of a quarterback controversy between Ross Comis and Andrew Ford during his weekly coach’s conference call.

Ford finished 28-for-42 with 278 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception in UMass’ (1-2) first win of the season Saturday afternoon against Florida International, after getting the start in place of the injured Comis.

“We’ll see what (Comis is) like Tuesday. They aren’t throwing (on Monday), we didn’t throw yesterday. We just ran, lifted them, got some film out,” Whipple said, “We did a little preview on Mississippi State, so we’ll see where he’s at Tuesday, but he’s a lot better.”

“We’ll see how (Comis) does. There’s always competition. Every day,” Whipple added. “That’s why I think Andrew’s gotten so much better. We’ll play the best one during the week – whoever we think. But I was really happy with the way Andrew played, I was happy with the way Ross played, so we’ll get that up to a level of competition this week, so well just see how the week goes.”

It’s likely that Whipple won’t make his definitive decision until Thursday at practice – after media availability for the week – much like the timeframe Ford found out he was starting last week.

Other injury updates

After missing the entire half of Saturday’s game against FIU, inside linebacker Shane Huber will likely be a game-time decision for this week’s contest against Mississippi State.

“Shane was about the same as he was,” Whipple said. “Again, we’ll see Tuesday. He’ll be in (Monday) for treatment, and I haven’t seen the trainers.”

“But the good was I talked to Vondell Langston and (Colbert Calhoun) played pretty well in his place, so we need to have him back, but that will probably be a game time thing. He didn’t run (Sunday), so we’ll just see where that’s at.”

Calhoun is currently behind Huber on the team’s official two-deep depth chart, but given how defensive coordinator Tom Masella has rotated his linebackers this season, UMass could use multiple different players in that role.

Calhoun finished Saturday’s game against the Panthers with six tackles (two solo, four assisted). He didn’t have any prior to the FIU game. Linebackers Teddy Lowery and Steve Casali will need to step up if Huber isn’t cleared to play against Mississippi State. Lowery leads the Minutemen with 20 tackles, while Casali is right on his tail with 19.

After UMass lost cornerback Jackson Porter during practice last week, Whipple said Porter was again going to be a game-time decision this upcoming Saturday. Expect a constant rotation of James Allen, Lee Moses and Isaiah Rodgers – who replaced Porter against the Panthers – against the Bulldogs.

Sharpe, Cruz notch victories

Both former wide receivers Tajae Sharpe and Victor Cruz propelled their respected teams to victories in week two of the NFL season.

Sharpe had four receptions for 33 receiving yards in the Titans win over the Lions. The fifth-round pick was once again quarterback Marcus Mariota’s top most trusted weapons, as he finished tied for first with seven targets (Demarco Murray also had seven).

A week after catching the go-ahead touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz reeled in four catches for 91 yards in the Giants 16-13 win over the New Orleans Saints.

A quick look ahead

Saturday’s game against the Bulldogs will be the Minutemen’s third game in four weeks against Power Five teams to start the season. After dropping the first two games of the season against Florida and Boston College, Mississippi State enters this week coming off a 23-20 loss against at the time No. 20 Louisiana State.

“I’m not taking anything from FIU, but (Mississippi State) is a different animal. We’re back playing a Florida-like team,” Whipple said when asked about Ford and his 42 passing attempts against FIU.

“I don’t know if we’ll have the ball that long, really. That’s just where it is. If we have to (pass 42 times), we’ll do it … we just have to find a way to get more points than Mississippi State.”

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

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