Monday, March 21, 2011

UMass Minutemen 2010 Review

2010 Record: 6-5 (4-4), Tied 5th Colonial
2010 Postseason: None
2010 Schedule/Results: William & Mary, W 27-23, Holy Cross, W 31-7, @ Michigan, L 42-37, @ Stony Brook, W 26-21, @ Towson, W 27-14, Richmond, L 11-10, @ New Hampshire, L 39-13, @ James Madison, W 21-14, Maine, W 39-24, Delaware, L 45-27, @ Rhode Island, L 37-34


     After a 4-1 start to the season, with the only loss coming at Michigan, one would have though that the Minutemen were well on their way to yet another playoff appearance, but then the collapse came, and UMass finished the season on a 2-4 run, including a bad loss to Rhode Island to finish the season. The Minutemen had slid down the conference ranks, and found themselves home for the playoffs trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
     The offense did what they had to do by averaging 413.1 yards per game, and they passed for 244.7 yards per game behind the arm of Kyle Havens. Havens passed for 2692 yards on the season, while passing for 20 TDs against just 7 picks. Havens also rushed for 2 more scores on the season. It's going to be a major task to replace him in 2011.
     The running game was a two headed monster, with Jonathon Hernandez and John Griffin leading the way. Each of them rushed for over 800 yards, and they combined for a line of 387-1678-14, with Hernandez rushing for 9 of the TDs on the year. Only Hernandez will be returning in 2011, leaving him to be the focus of the backfield.
      Anthony Nelson and Julian Talley were excellent targets for Havens. Nelson ran up a line of 61-830-4, while Talley had a very nice season as the complimentary receiver as he lined up a season of 56-747-6. They served up one of the better seasons of any combo in the CAA. Dan Sheeren also added a nice support line of 37-473-3, while Rob Blanchflower scored 3 TDs as well.
     The defense did well against the pass, but teams were able to run at will against the Minutemen front 7. UMass gave up 171 yards on the ground per game in 2010, which was the central theme in why they failed to return to the FCS playoffs.
     UMass had two very solid tacklers at the top, but there were very few players in support beyond that. LBs Mike Mele (110) and Tyler Holmes (109) led the way in tackles. Nobody else on the defense came even remotely close to joining them at the top. Holmes was also the only player to even remotely double up in TFLs, with 13. WIth no playmakers other than Holmes up front, the opposition was able to virtually run at will. Holmes also led the team with only 5 sacks.
     Mike Lee and Darren Thellen stepped up in the secondary, with both having broken up 6 passes, but they were the only DBs that made plays on the ball. That was not getting it done, and Holmes, a LB, led the team in picks with 5. Holmes returned 2 of those picks for scores.
     Caleb Violette was not exactly the epitome of succesful at PK in 2010. Violette, a sophomore, only hit on 9 of his 16 FG attempts on the season. UMass will need to push him for better performance if they intend on turning a corner. The entire kicking game needs a restructuring.

The Minutemen seem to be in a bit of a bind these days. the offense sure did come around, but the defense was strangely innefective. This is not the way the Minutemen want to see things go at this point, as they are going to be elevating to the FBS and the MAC very soon. This should be finalized soon. That would make UMass the second CAA team currently being targeted for a move to the FBS, with Villanova having an open invite to the Big East that they will be discussing next month. If UMass is truly entertaining the move up, then 2011 will be a pivotal season in which major improvements must become evident. UMass has a history of success, so it's possible that a quick turnaround is not inconceivable, but is it likely? Nobody can say this soon.


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