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

UMass on the road following its first bye week to take on Army

The Minutemen recuperate and look to tidy up their game
Kalina Kornacki

The Massachusetts football team returns to the field following its week eight bye week. The Minutemen (1-7) will head to West Point, New York to take on the Black Knights on Saturday, Oct. 28.

In the week leading up to its bye week, UMass fell to Penn State 63-0, giving up 21 points in both the second and third quarters. Both Taisun Phommachanh and Ahmad Haston took the field under center for the Minutemen. Phommachanh took seven sacks before the third-string quarterback came out onto the field. Haston was the second-leading UMass rusher behind Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams. The running back had a net total of 31 yards and Haston totaled 29 yards.

For UMass’ receiving end, George Johnson III and Gino Campiotti led the Minutemen with 24 and 10 yards respectively. Defensively, UMass’ Nahji Logan led the pack with eight total tackles. JB Brown, Isaiah Rutherford, and Aaron Beckwith followed with six. Brown also ended the match against Penn State with a sack.

“Execution is such an important piece and getting back to playing complimentary football is an important piece,” head coach Don Brown said.

However, this was not the outcome Brown had in mind. The Minutemen’s first bye week came at a crucial time in their season.

“The guys get a chance to [recuperate] in terms of [the] physical piece,” Brown said. “We took advantage of that.”

Brown also said that having the ability to “get a jump on Army,” (2-5) is a key advantage heading into Saturday, not allowing the previous loss to hang over the players’ heads. The transition of Army’s offense is something Brown is glad the team got a head start on when preparing for the game.

Army has taken on a spread option offense, similar to the formation the Minutemen take on the field. From the games played so far this season, the Black Knights have averaged five yards per play with 2,224 yards and 18 touchdowns. On third and fourth down, Army converts 33.33 percent and 63.64 percent of the time respectively. UMass, on the other hand, has gained a total of 2,884 yards so far this season with 22 touchdowns. On third down, the Minutemen are at a 34.91 percent completion rate and are 18.18 percent for fourth down conversions.

As for UMass’ offense, the power quarterback Phommachanh is close to 100 percent recovered, according to Brown. Having the ability to carry the ball himself and place the ball perfectly into his receivers’ hands will potentially be a momentum changer for the Minutemen as their last four games approach. UMass will take its second bye week following its contest against Merrimack, leaving the final two games of the season left.

“We’re working in all areas: Offense, defense, kicking game, all those things,” Brown said. “There’s not an area that we can’t improve in, and I thought we took… a good step last week, came away from the practice phase of the week, and felt really good about the progress that we have made.”

Prior to the Saturday contest, the two teams have met five times. In the 2022-23 season, Army came out victorious in a 44-7 win. In the season before, the Black Knights came out on top with a 33-17 victory. Looking to end the Army winning streak against UMass, Brown noted that the team’s defensive coordinator, Nate Woody, has worked under him before.

“Woody… worked for me at Michigan,” Brown said. “So I have a pretty good idea as to what he’s done in the past… The one thing he’ll do is get them to play hard and that’s what they’re doing.”

As for the Minutemen, tightening up third-down conversions, Brown is hoping to solidify with his team. Heading into Army, both teams are familiar with the offensive formations, so capitalizing off third down conversions will be a key element of Saturday’s matchup.

Kickoff at Michie Stadium is set for 12 p.m. The game can be streamed on CBS Sports Network.

Sydney Ciano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @SydneyCiano.

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