UMass Notebook: There will be rest for the weary, battered Minutemen

  • UM QB Andrew Ford is tackled by Ohio’s Chad Moore during Saturday’s 58-50 football loss Saturday. gazette Photo/sarah crosby

  • UMass QB Andrew Ford rears back to throw a pass Saturday during a 58-50 football loss to Ohio University Saturday at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst. gazette Photo/sarah crosby

  • UMass’ Brennon Dingle scores a touchdown under pressure from Ohio University’s Javon Hagan Saturday during a 58-50 football loss at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst. gazette Photo/sarah crosby

For The Recorder
Sunday, October 01, 2017

AMHERST — From a health standpoint, UMass’ back-to-back bye weeks couldn’t come at a better time as the Minutemen added to their list of injured players in Saturday’s 58-50 loss to Ohio at McGuirk Stadium.

Sophomore corner Isaiah Rodgers, who has been one of UMass’ best defensive players all season, had a jarring collision in the first half and didn’t return.

“I don’t know. He got like a head or a neck. He came on a corner blitz and the lineman picked him up,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said. “He’ll be back in three weeks, I would think.”

With fellow corner Lee Moses already out, true freshman Xavier Steele was pressed in.

“Xavier’s experience will teach him. What we talked about in this room is ‘Hey, the next guy up. You don’t know who it’s going to be,’” Whipple said. “The scout team gets speed reps. We could lose three corners, we could lose three backers and those guys. I don’t think (Xavier) played poorly. He got two penalties but he was trying to be physical. Guys will learn. We just have to get ready for the second half.”

The offensive injury news was better.

Tight end Adam Breneman, who missed the game at Tennessee, and quarterback Andrew Ford and right tackle Jack Driscoll, who both left that game with injuries, each returned against the Bobcats.

Ford (32 of 54, 390 yards, five touchdowns, one interception) connected with Breneman (12 catches, 131 yards) on the first play of the game and both played effectively throughout.

UNEVEN SPECIAL TEAMS — Logan Laurent made the two field goals he attempted from 24 and 35 yards. They were the first made field goals UMass had all year after Michael Schreiner missed the first four of the season.

Junior running back Marquis Young returned kicks for the first time all year. He had four for 129 yards, including an 81-yarder. UMass’ kickoff coverage team had problems as Ohio averaged 26.3 yards per return, including a 67-yarder.

“We put him back there because of Isaiah (Rodgers’ injury). He has speed. He’s been working on it. We worked him in the spring. He was back there at Tennessee. They tend to kick it out of the end zone,” Whipple said. “I thought his kickoff return gave us a big boost and got us back into it that way. I didn’t think our kickoff team was very good at all.”

MISCELLANEOUS — The point totals were the most UMass scored and allowed this season.

Brennon Dingle’s two touchdown catches were the first and second of his career.

Two Ohio players were ejected for targeting penalties, while Minuteman Ray Thomas-Ishman Sr. was ejected for an unsportsmanlike conduct in the fourth quarter.

The crowd of 7,696 was a season low.