Depin: It doesn’t matter who is quarterback in the revolving door that is the Massachusetts offense

Minutemen held to seven points with zero passing touchdowns

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Shilpa Sweth/ Daily Collegian (2022)

By Johnny Depin, Assistant Sports Editor

Four quarterbacks have gotten opportunities to command the offense for the Massachusetts football team this season. The most recent quarterback to receive this distinction is Garrett Dzuro, who has played leaps and bounds better than his three counterparts. The sad truth? None of it matters in the slightest.

The Minutemen (1-6) scored seven points against Buffalo Saturday, with that coming off a rush from Ellis Merriweather. As a matter of fact, since the home opener against FCS Stony Brook, all touchdowns have been either rushing or defensive touchdowns. Dzuro finished with 99 passing yards, which is the most passing yards that we’ve seen from a Massachusetts quarterback this season.

The numbers for Dzuro are a bit inflated, as the Bulls (4-3, 3-0 Mid-American Conference) allow just around 240 yards passing per game. Dzuro’s numbers look good, but his passing yards are carried by two big receptions by George Johnson III which totaled 52 of his 99 yards. On 10 rushing attempts, Dzuro gained a net 12 yards.

On a day where the Minutemen needed to pass the football, they only attempted 19 passes compared to 41 rushing attempts. Buffalo’s rushing defense has been stronger than its passing defense, and that remained true on Saturday. It’s not that the passes weren’t working; UMass averaged 13.5 yards per completion.

It’s either a lack of trust in the quarterbacks as a whole, or Steve Casula and Don Brown are so intent on controlling the clock that they let it control their play calling. All of the stats said that Saturday, the Minutemen would be more successful passing the football than running the football. Still, UMass ran just over twice the amount of rushing plays than passing plays.

When Saturday’s game entered the fourth quarter, Zamar Wise got reps in at QB, and it was more of the same that was seen when Dzuro was at the helm. Wise had as many rushes as he did pass attempts, finding more success with his legs than with his arm. He had 12 yards on the ground with nine in the air.

What both of these performances show us is that it doesn’t matter who is quarterbacking the Minutemen. We can throw what Dzuro and Wise did on Saturday out, because the signs of the quarterback not mattering was seen as far back as the season opener against Tulane, and has been seen in every game this season.

Before this game, the normal QB tandem that took the field for the Minutemen was that of Gino Campiotti and Brady Olson. The first game of the season, they split time, much like Dzuro and Wise did Saturday. Of the 69 offensive snaps that were run in UMass’ season opener, 58 of those snaps resulted in a run. Until the play calling is diversified, this one note offense will not be changed by a new quarterback.

The biggest example of this is seen in UMass’ game against Temple, a game that many expected to be close. Three quarterbacks, Wise, Olson, and Campiotti played in that game, and none of them found success. It’s still the only time that the Minutemen have been shutout this season, even with them facing superior opponents like Toledo and Eastern Michigan.3

The Massachusetts offense is a revolving door. Four quarterbacks have gotten playing time, and this could definitely be a factor as to why none of them have found much success. With no true QB1, no quarterback has been able to find any rhythm.

Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jdepin101.