Who to watch for in UMass football spring game

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at McGuirk Alumni Stadium

By Philip Sanzo, Sports Editor

Lot 11 will be home to UMass students looking to tailgate once again this Friday.

The Massachusetts football team will play its spring game on Friday at 6 p.m. Though the game doesn’t count and the intensity level is minimal, fans and students can get a preseason look at the Minutemen.

Here are some players to look for:

Andrew Ford

A redshirt senior, Ford will be playing his first UMass game without hometown friend and teammate Adam Breneman. Last season, Ford threw for 2,924 yards after throwing for 2,665 a year prior and reduced his interceptions from 14 to just four. The quarterback will still have Ross Comis to back him up. While Ford took the majority of the snaps in 2017, Comis was used from time to time especially in the red zone, rushing for three touchdowns. Despite Breneman being gone, Ford still has Andy Isabella as a major weapon. It will be interesting to see how Ford uses his other wide receivers in short yardage situations where he would have targeted Breneman.

Brennon Dingle

Caroline O’Connor

In his redshirt freshman season, Dingle became a decent red zone threat, catching four touchdowns while picking up 330 receiving yards. All four of Dingle’s touchdowns came in the final seven games of the season when the Minutemen went 4-3. His best came in the 58-50 loss to Ohio when he caught two touchdowns.

Jessie Britt

Caroline O’Connor

Britt struggled at times last year as a true freshman, but ultimately finished with three touchdowns and 422 yards. Combined with Dingle, Sadiq Palmer and Isabella, Ford is going to have his core wide receivers returning. The Minuteman offense averaged 30 points a game with the majority of the touchdowns going through Isabella (10). Britt ended his 2017 season on a high note, going for 101 yards against Florida International.

Jake Byczko

Imogen Fairs

Between Da’Sean Downey, Ali Ali-Musa and Sha-ki Holiness (when he was healthy), the Minuteman defensive line in defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham’s first season was formidable. In 2018, all those players will have graduated. Sophomore Jake Byczko could be someone to take on a lot of the load. Byczko appeared in all 12 games in 2017 but never recorded a sack. He’ll have assistance from graduate student linebacker Bryton Barr. Byczko’s best game in 2017 came against Old Dominion when he recorded 10 tackles.

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.