Minutemen head to the film room to correct their mistakes

  • UMass coach Mark Whipple takes the field during starting ceremonies Saturday for the season opener against Hawaii at McGuirk Stadium. His Minutemen lost, 38-35. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

  • Andrew Ford (7), UMass Quarterback, about to throw the ball during a game against Hawaii at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, August 26, 2017. FOR THE RECORDER/CAROLINE O'CONNOR

For The Recorder
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

AMHERST — With practice and video study now between them and UMass’ 38-35 Saturday loss to Hawaii, Minuteman coach Mark Whipple and defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham both felt ready to attack the problems that contributed to defeat.

Whipple said his players responded well to their videoed mistakes.

“The application wasn’t there. That’s why teams tend to improve from game one to game two 2. Once you see it live and in color on game day, it resonates and hits home,” he said. “We can’t have misalignments, fundamental things on both sides of the ball. On offense when we didn’t penalize ourselves, we were good. Today’s practice there was certainly a higher level of concentration on the details you harp on. It’s the details that put you over the top. A lot of times we weren’t that detailed on both sides of the ball.”

Pinkham said avoiding big mistakes was step one.

“You can’t get a personal foul when you have a stop on third down. You can’t get off the field if you don’t catch the punt. The first thing we have to do is avoid losing by doing stupid things,” he said. “The other things can all be fixed fairly easily. It was more a case of not winning the game than having been beaten. The things we did incorrectly are very, very fixable.”

He hoped the players would channel their disappointment from losing the game.

“I want them to be frustrated, frustrated to the extent that they want to prove they can get it done and minimize the type of mistakes that cost games,” Pinkham said.

Whipple thought his team, starting with himself, didn’t effectively handle the end of the game well.

“We didn’t do a good job handling it. I probably didn’t either. You’re right there. You have to reset. We didn’t do a very good job on offense. We knew what they were going to run and we just didn’t execute. We just needed a field goal. That was disappointing. We have to go back to work on that,” he said. “Defensively we just can’t give up the big play at that point. We’ll learn from it and move forward. We have to coach better and we have to play better.”

Whipple thought his freshman who saw action would be better this week.

“I think the young players that got in there learned a lot,” he said. “The speed of the game surprised them a little. They should be better this week.”

Strong start — New UMass linebacker Bryton Barr had a team-high 13 tackles and a sack, but because the Minutemen lost the game, he was far more interested in atoning for his mistakes that celebrating his success.

“It was a tough loss. We just have to put it behind us. We already started getting ready for Coastal Carolina trying to get this first win, Saturday,” said the transfer from Towson. “I can improve every single day. I have a lot of work to do. I had a couple missed assignments which hurt us a little bit. I have a lot to work on. I can be much better. If we fix a couple mistakes we can be a really good defense. We have to be all together. If you try to do too much, it can hurt us. I did that a couple times Saturday and it hurt us. That was selfish of me. I have to be more selfless.”

Whipple was a more empathic grader.

“He made a big play at the end and has become more of a leader,” Whipple said. “He’s certainly heading in the right direction.”

All in all, Barr was glad to be back at linebacker after playing defensive end last year for the Tigers.

“It was a lot of fun while I was out there. I played middle linebacker in high school. That’s what I’m comfortable with,” he said. “When I first went to Towson I was learning a new position.”

Holines status uncertain — Senior defensive lineman Sha-Ki Holines returned to practice this week after missing the opener with an undisclosed injury. Whipple wasn’t ready to set a status for him for Saturday’s game.

“We’re not sure what we’ll do. It’s too early to tell, probably a game-time decision,” Whipple said. “He’s one of our better players. He’s a senior. We didn’t have him and we had to play some freshmen, who did all right. It was Charly Timite’s first time playing and Jake Byczko. They’ll get better because they played.

Miscellaneous — With just five games played in the Bowl Subdivision, UMass’ Adam Breneman was second nationally in receiving yards with 179, behind Hawaii’s John Ursua, who had 272. Marquis Young and Andy Isabella were tied for second in scoring with two touchdowns a piece.