Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Katz: Minutemen quarterbacks silenced in season opener

UMass throws for only 17 yards against Tulane
Chris Tucci/ UMass Athletics

The quarterback situation for the Minutemen was shrouded in uncertainty in the lead-up to Saturday’s season opener. After a blowout loss to Tulane, head coach Don Brown and his coaching staff still have a lot to figure out on offense.

Sophomore Brady Olson and junior Gino Campiotti struggled mightily to find any rhythm throwing the football against Tulane’s defense. The UMass offense completed only four passes and relied almost entirely on their run game. Both quarterbacks got snaps throughout the game, but neither were able to create any momentum downfield.

During the first quarter and into the second quarter, the play-calling focused on runs up the middle and quarterback keeps to mix up looks for Tulane’s defensive front. Campiotti did manage to find holes for yardage enough to move the chains on a couple different drives. In one bright spot for the QB position, he had 58 yards rushing on the night.

As the first half continued, it became clear the Minutemen did not want to throw the football. The first time UMass tried to push the ball down the field, Olson looked for a receiver downfield on a flea flicker, only to see double coverage and miniscule windows. Olson was forced to throw the ball out of bounds, as Tulane’s secondary proved overwhelming for him on the majority of passing plays for the rest of the game.

The Minutemen offense began to fall into a predictable pattern, with plays being called either for a quarterback keep or a run play up the middle. There were some screen plays called, and a few short yardage pass attempts completed. But it seemed impossible for UMass to find any footing moving the ball through the air. Both Olson and Campiotti didn’t seem comfortable dropping back to pass, chopping their feet and throwing deep routes off their back foot. UMass threw three interceptions on the night, killing possible drives and giving Tulane great field position.

Olson had two completions for just five yards on the night; his longest completion was four yards. He didn’t appear to have confidence in his accuracy and the throws he did attempt seemed rushed and uncomfortable. His interception came on a third and long halfway through the second quarter.

Tulane’s Macon Clark watched Olson’s body language for the duration of the pre-snap rundown, and seemed to know Olson was about to try and complete a stop route to Cameron Sullivan-Brown near the left sideline. Clark jumped the route and recorded his first interception of the year. Campiotti had two completions on six attempts, for just 12 yards. He threw two interceptions later in the game, both balls underthrown and into double and triple coverages.

Looking ahead, UMass has to figure out a way to develop a better passing game. Opponents will find it easier and easier to add pressure up the middle and stop any ground gains if the Minutemen quarterback core can’t find a rhythm throwing the football. Their blowout loss to Tulane proved they have to diversify their play-calling to keep defenses on their toes.

Judah Katz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @judah_katz.

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