The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the UMass Minutemen.
No. 105: UMass Minutemen
UMass Spring Status
Can UMass finally start winning the close games? It put together an interesting 2016, but it couldn’t turn hard battles into wins.
The Minutemen went 4-8, losing six of those games by ten points or fewer – and they were in all of them.
Now there’s reason to hope for even more fun in their independent world, with a terrific offense coming back, and the defense bringing back enough experience in the back seven to be stronger.
This offseason, though, the team has to tighten up in several areas – like the punting game, the rest of the special teams, and red zone plays – to start being on the right side of the games there for the taking.
UMass Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Defensive tackle. The entire defensive front is a problem, but the interior needs the most attention to come up with two new starters for Ali Ali-Musa and Sha-Ki Holines.
Ali-Musa finished fourth on the team in tackles, and Holines was active in the backfield. Take them out, along with Da’Sean Downey and his team-leading six sacks and 20 tackles for loss, and there’s a problem up front.
UMass Biggest Issue
The offensive line has to keep the quarterbacks upright. The weapons are there for the passing game to blow up again, but the front five can’t allow 46 sacks again. A year after allowing 45 sacks, the Minutemen didn’t improve. This all corresponds with the miserable third down offense that converted just 35% of their tries.
UMass Biggest Positive
The passing game should be terrific again. The nation’s 17th-ranked passing offense should be even better. Star TE Adam Breneman is gone, but Andy Isabella is back after coming up with a team-leading 65 catches for 1,020 yards and ten scores. Seven of the top eight players who caught a pass return, along with quarterbacks Andrew Ford and Ross Comis.
Really, Why Are The UMass Minutemen Ranked Here?
This should still be one of the more interesting teams outside of the Power Five. The Minutemen should rock on offense, struggle on defense, and play a whole lot of fun battles. But the lines have to be far better, and five of the top six tacklers have to be replaced.