2012 Record: 1-11 (1-7 in MAC)
Head Coach: Charley Molnar (second year at UMass)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 54th out of 55 mid-major teams
Stadium: Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA (capacity = 68,756)
Conference Home Games: 10/12 vs Miami (OH), 10/26 vs WMU, 11/12 vs NIU, 11/16 vs Akron
Out of Conference: 8/31 at Wisconsin, 9/7 vs Maine, 9/14 at Kansas State, 9/21 vs Vanderbilt
Stats to Fear: scored a TD on just 40.63% of trips to red zone (last in MAC), had just 12 sacks in 2012 (12th in MAC)
Stat to Cheer: we are still looking
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 123rd out of 124 teams
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 4, Defense 5, Special Teams 2
Key Defensive Returnees: LB Kassan Messiah (65 tackles in 9 games), CB Randall Jette (53 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: TE Rob Blanchflower (43 rec), T Anthony Dima
UMass had a pretty rough time in their FBS debut last season. In their first three games they got beat by a combined score of 145-19. It didn't get much better but the Minutemen did manage to pull off a victory on the road against Akron for their lone win of the season.
Offensively, UMass played two freshman QBs last year and as of now Mike Wegzyn has the starting job heading into fall but Charly Molnar is inviting competition. The Minutemen's leading returning RB, Jordan Broadnax, ran the ball 51 times for just an average of 2.71 ypc last season. If there is a strength on the offense it could be the receivers which return three players that caught twenty or more passes including TE Rob Blanchflower, who is one of the best at his position in the MAC. The OL returns only one player who has more than two career starts.
On defense the DL returns a pair of starters at DE but will have to replace the interior of their line. The LB corps loses their top tackler but returns experience at OLB with Kassan Messiah, Tom Brandt and Jovan Santos-Knox. The secondary could be the strength of the team as they return both Corners and have experience at Safety.
I don't expect a big turnaround from this team in 2013 but if they do improve it will be because of the defense. The good news is that help could be on the way soon as 247 sports had UMass ranked with the third best recruiting class in the MAC last season. This looks like a one to two win team again this year if they can catch Akron again.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews:
Truth is the school really needs the visibility. UMass needs to get out of Foxboro though. That'll improve the bottom line.
I'm actually really high on this program. They've got a tough schedule, so I agree that the wins will be few, but the losses shouldn't be as lopsided as last year.
@CFBZ One thing UMass definitely has going for it: the arrival of Georgia State in the FBS.
@29sonski they had a nice recruiting class last season. Other than that I don't see many positive. Doesn't look like they have the support within their own ranks either http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/blog/eye-on-college-football/21627886/umass-faculty-senate-motion-to-leave-fbs-falls-a-vote-short