2017 Record: 4-8
After eight months of waiting, college football, and most importantly, UMass Football, is back! After finishing last season with a respectable 4-2 record in their last 6 games, and taking pride in an undefeated October, they are poised to improve, perhaps earning a bowl spot. And they might expect to do well with it given their experience this past season against SEC powerhouses Mississippi State and Tennessee, only losing to the latter by four points.
Starting QB Andrew Ford played admirably last season, despite missing a game and a half with a scary concussion. Ford finished with over 2,900 yards while completing about 63% of his passes. He also was an efficient passer who kept control of the ball, posting an impressive 11:2 touchdown to interception ratio.
Much like last year, the schedule includes potentially tough games for UMass from start to finish. To start off, UMass will play Boston College in Week 2 on September 1, who went above .500 last year. They will then try to continue their unbeaten in October streak against the University of South Florida, who bested Texas Tech in their bowl game last year and only lost to the undefeated University of Central Florida team by a touchdown.
Finally, the regular season will conclude against Georgia, ranked #3 in the AP Preseason Poll. The Bulldogs finished runner up in the College Football Playoff last season, including winning the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma in a double overtime thriller for the ages.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, UMass is projected to have a Win-Loss record of 6.5-5.5, ranking 63th in the FBS.
Some players to look out for include wide receiver Andy Isabella, middle linebacker Bryton Barr, and running back Marquis Young, all seniors. Isabella finished last season with over 1,000 yards on 15.7 yards per catch and 10 touchdowns. In addition, he will start 2018 on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List, an award which goes to the best receiver in all of college football.
Bryton Barr, essentially the leader and life of the UMass defense, finished 2017 with 105 total tackles, including nine for loss and five sacks. These incredible numbers earned Barr a spot on the Phil Steele All-Independent First Team, an honor that goes to the elite non Power Conference players in the country. Barr will also be on the Butkus Award Watch List, given to the most outstanding linebacker in the nation.
Marquis Young racked up over 1,500 all-purpose yards in 2017, including 219 of them in a loss against Ohio. Young also led the team with nine rushing touchdowns and caught two of them through the air. He earned a spot on the 2017 Phil Steele All-Independent Second Team as both a running back and as a kick returner, and will start the 2018 season on the Doak Walker Award Watch List, which is awarded to the best running back at the collegiate level.
The team is proudly coming off a season in which they demonstrated major improvement from the year before, when they went 2-10. So despite a challenging schedule that includes a game against a bona fide championship contender, we can expect even more growth from the UMass Football team in the upcoming year. Go UMass!
Militia Blog Team, Season Predictions:
Jake Barnes: 7-5. including a win versus Boston College and a bowl game appearance.
Brandon Blumstein: 6-6. Andrew Ford will have a higher completion percentage than last year, and the team will compete well against Georgia.
Tyler Movessian: 6-6. The receiving core of Isabella, Britt, and Dingle will combine for over 25 touchdowns and the team will beat BYU.
Freeman Alfano: 8-4. UMass will win its first bowl game since 1972.
Patrick Arsenault: 7-5. including another undefeated October. The team will make over 90% of its field goals this year, and Marquis Young will eclipse 1,000 rushing yards.