Both UMass football and New Mexico State coming off bye weeks

  • Don Brown and the UMass football team will host New Mexico State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/28/2022 5:23:59 PM
Modified: 10/28/2022 5:23:46 PM

AMHERST – Two teams itching for a game will meet at McGuirk Alumni Stadium at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Neither the UMass football team nor New Mexico State have played since Oct. 15 — a rivalry win over New Mexico for the Aggies and a fourth straight loss for the Minutemen, which fell against Buffalo.

“Feels like forever,” UMass coach Don Brown said.

UMass (1-6) had a bye week scheduled. New Mexico State (2-5) postponed its homecoming game against San Jose State after Spartans freshman Camdan McWright’s death. The Aggies didn’t have as much time to prepare as the Minutemen, but they still got a jump.

“We are kind of double prepared so not playing, I kind of worry about losing our timing and our execution and things,” New Mexico State coach Jerry Kill told The Las Cruces Sun-News’ Jason Groves.

Preparing for each other may feel like practice for both squads. Both the Minutemen and Aggies lean heavily toward defense and are still figuring out their offense.

UMass boast’s the nation’s 65th best defense allowing 378 yards per game. The Minutemen only gain 259.7 yards per game, 128th in the nation. That’s still better than New Mexico State, which ranks 130th (243 yards per game). The Aggies allow 385.4 yards per game, which is 79th.

Both struggle to score. UMass has put up just 15 points per game (127th). New Mexico State averages 12 (131st). That will be against two scoring defenses that allow 29 (UMass) and 32 (NMSU) points per game.

“It certainly on paper looks that way. But college football is week to week,” Brown said. “I'm anxious for our guys to play. I think we've practiced really well. We’re healthier, obviously, than we were, say two weeks ago.”

New Mexico Sate averages 166.9 yards on the ground, good for 57th in the nation, the second best unit in the matchup. Star Thomas leads the way with 343 yards and three touchdowns.

UMass’ pass defense is holding strong at No. 25 in the country, giving up just 193.9 points per game. That’ll be trouble for Gavin Frakes (517 yards, four TDs) and the Aggies. Their aerial attack is No. 131.

“I have a lot of confidence in our guys. I think we're getting better making improvements and obviously anxious to see how we're going to come out here at the end of the week,” Brown said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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