Cyr: UMass’ quarterback situation back open after Ross Comis replaces Andrew Ford in the fourth quarter against Tulane

By Andrew Cyr

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

Ladies and Gentlemen, after finally finding our answer, it appears as if the Massachusetts quarterback controversy is once again on the forefront of the Minutemen’s list of uncertainties as the 2016 season continues to roll along.

With both Andrew Ford and Ross Comis dressed simultaneously for the first time since week two against Boston College, Whipple rode the hot hand of Ford after back-to-back solid performances against Florida International and Mississippi State.

Ford, who had completed over 63-percent of his passes in his two starts for 551 yards and seven touchdowns to four interceptions, opened the game red-hot completing two 12-yard touchdowns receptions to Andy Isabella in the game’s first four minutes.

But that was the only offense Ford and the rest of the Minutemen (1-4) could generate.

After accumulating 97 yards of total offense in the first quarter, UMass combined for 83 total yards in the second and third quarter, where the Minutemen were outscored 24-0.

UMass coach Mark Whipple made a call to the bullpen with the Minutemen trailing 24-14 and 12:52 remaining in the game in favor of Comis, who didn’t dress the previous two weeks with an undisclosed injury.

Comis finished the fourth quarter 5-for-11 with 72 yards, generating two scoring drives, but the comeback was cut short and the Minutemen fell to Tulane 31-24 Saturday at McGuirk Stadium on homecoming weekend.

“We just didn’t have anything going in the second and third quarter and I didn’t like the look in Andrew’s eyes,” Whipple said after the game. “I thought it was a good move, didn’t you guys? … He gave us a little spark.”

In his first drive back under center, Comis completed three passes, including a 52-yard strike to Isabella on the first play. He finished the drive with 53 passing yards and 14 rushing yards, bringing UMass 79 yards on eight plays before Logan Laurent converted a 28-yard field goal.

Following a Green Wave (3-2, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) touchdown on the ensuing possession, Comis again marched the Minutemen into the red zone on back-to-back 10-yard runs before Sekai Lindsay punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 31-24.

However, on the final drive Comis threw two incompletions as UMass failed to pick up the first down after turning the ball over on downs in just four plays.

“We have two good ones,” Whipple said about the consistency in play from the quarterback position this year. “We’re playing the American conference. Look at what they have and look at what we have. It’s not like we’re playing on even fields.”

Whipple added: “I have two guys I feel good about and the one thing that was good was when I told Andrew I was going with Ross they were together and they’re pulling for each other. They both want to play.”

Prior to the season, Whipple gave the starting nod to Comis as the redshirst-sophomore has more experience in his pro-style offense. Comis went 20-for-45 in throwing for 286 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception in the Minutemen’s first two losses against top-tier defenses against the then-ranked No. 25 Florida and Boston College.

Ford started in UMass’ lone 21-13 win over the Panthers, and threw for four touchdown passes against Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State last weekend in a 47-35 loss at Gillette Stadium.

Whipple said quarterback play wasn’t the only factor in the Minutemen’s inability to move the ball or put any points on the scoreboard.

“We’ll go back and watch it tomorrow, Whipple said. “A lot of time the quarterback consistency – he’s not the one who held and held and he’s not the one who didn’t line up right although he’s the one that has to get them lined up right. It’s kind of an all offense thing.

Ford was officially named the starter through UMass public address when it named the starters prior to kickoff. It is interesting to note, because Comis was named the starter in pre-game introductions against FIU and the Bulldogs, despite not dressing.

“We’ve practiced well these last three weeks on offense,” Whipple said. “Twenty-four (points) wasn’t enough to get it done.”

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