Preview 2017: Can Massachusetts Win As An Independent?
It’s been a rough run for Massachusetts football? Can it start to win as an independent?
Independence doesn’t seem to be all that much fun.
UMass is out there in the wilderness of the FBS world, without the status of a Notre Dame, and following of a BYU, or the history and cache of an Army, trying to make something out of its program as an independent.
As a part of the MAC and then on its own, the Massachusetts is now 10-50 since making the move up in status. It has yet to win more than three games in the five years, and while there’s been a little bit of fun offensively once in a while, merely being competitive has been a problem.
None of the ten wins came against FBS teams that finished with a winning record, and of the 50 losses, 35 of them were by double-digits.
There’s still the belief from the top on down that this is still all a work in progress for the program that needs continuous building and a few breaks. Head coach Mark Whipple doesn’t appear to be in any jeopardy, there are plenty of decent veterans returning, and there’s money to be made as an independent with an eclectic schedule ranging from the winnable (Coastal Carolina, Maine) to the paycheck grabs (Tennessee, Mississippi State).
At some point, though, the Minutemen need to show a sign of life. There has to be something positive that proves the program has a shot of ever being relevant. There has to be an identity as something more than the team that occasionally plays in Fenway Park and in Foxborough.
This year’s team has the potential to be more interesting if the O line comes together.
There are options at quarterback for a passing game that wasn’t all that bad. Adam Breneman is one of the nation’s best tight ends, and Andy Isabella is a legitimate No. 1 wideout, while Marquis Young is a good back who just needs some blocking to help the cause.
The defensive front seven returns intact, and just one good safety is gone from the secondary. But can getting ten starters back on defense mean more for a group that couldn’t force turnovers, was awful against any decent passer, and was plowed over way too often.
The special teams have to be stronger. The mass amounts of penalties have to stop. The turnover margin can’t be so tilted, the time of possession can’t be so skewed the other way, and scores have to come in the red zone. The running game can’t be among the worst in America, and the pass protection can’t be so miserable.
Yeah, there’s a ton to do to be better at this whole college football thing at the FBS level. Yeah, there’s a ton to do to give the fans a break in life as an independent.