UMass football notebook: Bye week not idle for Minutemen

  • Coach Don Brown and the UMass football team welcome New Mexico State to Amherst on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 10/24/2022 4:25:53 PM
Modified: 10/24/2022 4:25:41 PM

AMHERST – The bye week didn’t breed lethargy for the UMass football team.

The Minutemen didn’t prepare for a game last week but kept busy. Their players, especially on the offensive side, rested and will be healthier ahead of Saturday’s home contest against New Mexico State (ESPN3) at 3:30 p.m.

“They were able to get that rest but at the same time, it gave us the opportunity to get a good jump on some of the fundamental things that we need to work on in all three phases and get to jump on New Mexico State,” UMass coach Don Brown said. “Fundamentally working on some things that they need to get better at... throwing, catching, route running, running the football, sprucing things up, emphasizing the things that are good and fixing up the things that aren't as good. It's just a good week to get some work in.”

UMass (1-6) also spent a day seeding preparation for its Nov. 26 date against Army and the Black Knights’ triple option attack. Last Tuesday’s first team period and first meeting was dedicated toward the rules and checks when dealing with the rare offense.

“Army is so unique,” Brown said. “It’s a good chance for us to get a good jump.”

Then the Minutemen transitioned to the Aggies aiming to break a four-game losing streak. UMass is 2-7 coming off a bye since joining the FBS in 2012.

The normal advantage of facing a team fresh off a game with less time to prepare will be slightly dulled Saturday, as New Mexico State (2-5) did not play its scheduled game against San Jose State after the game was postponed following Spartans freshman Camdan McWright’s death.

A school bus hit McWright while he was riding an electric scooter through a crosswalk while the bus had a green light.

“Such a terrible thing. I don't even know if I want to even comment on it from a football perspective, because it's way bigger than that. What a terrible, terrible thing to happen to anybody,” Brown said. “Makes you wonder sometimes, because you see scooters all over the place on campuses. That's one of the, obviously, one of the bad things as a result.”

UMass gave its players the day off Friday after the news broke to talk with them about what happened and give them space to potentially process it. Then the Minutemen had the weekend off before returning to practice Monday.

“We're pretty much no different than everybody else. We do it the same way,” Brown said.

NO BYE FOR RECRUITING – Just because the team had a bye week, that doesn’t mean the coaches rested on their laurels. The entire staff was “all hands on deck” on the recruiting trail, Brown said. 

“We covered a lot of ground, covered a lot of games. Nice to get into some of the schools and the prep schools and just catch up with guys that you have great relationships,” Brown said “Recruiting is probably as important as anything that we're doing at this point in time.”

He mentioned that UMass has between 10-12 players verbally committed but acknowledged the fragility of that number.

“Two weeks from now you could get a hand grenade thrown right into it, and then you're starting from scratch,” Brown said. “Obviously the next piece that we’ll shift to is getting more aggressive in the portal as things start to develop there at the end of November, beginning of December.”

OPEN COMPETITION – The quarterback position remains as fluid and open as ever for the Minutemen. UMass used three quarterbacks against Buffalo (Garrett Dzuro, Gino Campiotti and Zamar Wise) and has played four this season (Brady Olson).

“We told the guys going into the bye week, competition’s a beautiful thing, have at it,” Brown said. “We're not a finished product by any way stretch of the imagination. We're still working hard, trying to get better and figure out who our best option is going to be.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Kylegrbwsk.


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