Alex Miller to make head coaching debut against Maine

Miller is interim head coach for final three weeks of the season

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Sophia-Zoe Schreyer

Sophie-Zoe Schreyer/Daily Collegian

By Joey Aliberti, Assistant Sports Editor

Following the firing of former Massachusetts football head coach, Alex Miller will fill in as the interim, making his head coaching debut against the University of Maine.

As a former UMass (1-8) offensive lineman from 2003-2006 and coach at the University of New Hampshire from 2011-2020, Miller has familiarity with the opposing program. Miller has faced the Black Bears (4-5, 3-4 Colonial Athletic Association) a total of 13 times. He finished 4-0 as a player with UMass and 8-1 as an assistant in Durham.

“The thing about Maine no matter what, they’re gritty on defense,” Miller said. “They always got some guys that you’re like ‘where’d that guy come from?’…They do what they’ve done for the last 10 or 15 years on defense.”

Maine has not had as much success on the defensive side of the ball this season. It has allowed 29.67 points on average per game, tied for 81st of 123 teams in the FCS. The Black Bears are 91st passing yards allowed (245.8) and 59th in rushing defense (150.3).

With both Bell and former defensive coordinator Tommy Restivo gone, Miller had to assign new play-callers. Linebackers coach Dan Carrel will take over the defensive coordinator duties while quarterbacks coach Frederick Walker and tight ends coach Kyle Segler will split the offensive play-calling role.

Carrel was brought on to the Minutemen’s coaching staff in 2020 as a defensive analyst and has had stints at the University of Houston and the University of New Mexico as a linebackers coach and Ohio State and Kentucky as a graduate assistant.

Walker is in his first year on UMass’ staff, coming from one season at Murray State as a wide receivers coach and Duke for two years before that as an offensive assistant. Segler is also in his first year at Amherst after two years in Marshall as both the tight ends coach and co-special teams coordinator.

The Minutemen have essentially nowhere to go but up in their final three games with new coordinators. Bell’s offense averaged 15 points per game, ranking 126 of the 130 FBS teams. His offense also ranked bottom-10 in yards per game, third down percentage and red zone scoring. Restivo’s defense allowed the second most points per game of any team in the country (46.2) and was bottom-five in yards per game, yards per play and third down percentage.

“I don’t know how different it’ll be,” Miller said of how much the offensive play-calling. “We might call some things in different situations, but there’s not going to be an overhaul of the entire offense or anything like that. We’re going to kind of stay with what the kids know and change some play call a little bit, but not anything schematic or anything major like that.”

With not much to compete for in the remainder of their season, the Minutemen could elect to let younger players develop and look towards the future, but Miller did not express interest in this strategy.

“If they haven’t used their four [redshirt eligibility] games, it is all hands-on deck,” Miller said. “It is come together and we got to put 11 guys out there to win that play at that time, and that’s what we’re going to do to get some wins here.”

Players that haven’t played more than four games are eligible to be redshirted, allowing those players to retain an extra year of eligibility.

Tyler Lytle will likely start again this week against Maine. Miller hinted at the fact that Lytle is not 100 percent healthy, citing that he will “see how [Lytle] feels throughout the week.”

“Brady [Olson] does have some experience,” Miller said. “So if he has to play it’s not going to be too earth-shattering. We’re going to let that play out through practice and make a decision Saturday.”

Olson started seven games in replacement for Lytle, but struggled after successful starts against Eastern Michigan and Boston College. Lytle threw for 227 yards on 15-of-28 completions with two total touchdowns and an interception.

Kickoff is set for noon at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Joey Aliberti can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @JosephAliberti1