UMass Football Notebook: QB musical-chairs routine works like a charm

  • UMass QB Andrew Ford (7) launches a pass down field as Georgia Southern’s Richard Byrd closes in on him during the second quarter of the host Minutemen’s 55-20 Homecoming win Saturday in Amherst. Ford split time under center with Ross Comis.

For The Recorder
Sunday, October 22, 2017

AMHERST — Heading into the season, UMass coach Mark Whipple declined to name a starting quarterback and said both of his juniors would play.

While that was technically true, Andrew Ford took the majority of the snaps and Ross Comis played occasional drives as more of a change-of-pace option.

But after two weeks off, Whipple came back with a true split. Comis played the first and third quarters, with Ford directing the second and fourth. Georgia Southern didn’t do much defensively against either of them in UMass’ 55-20, Homecoming win Saturday at McGuirk.

Whipple said the rotation wasn’t by design. Ford suffered an undisclosed injury in practice during the week and wasn’t certain to play until Friday. Comis has played well with the first team in practice, so Whipple decided to use both.

“Andrew got hurt on Wednesday at the beginning of practice. I didn’t think he was going to play. We kind of put a plan together for Ross. (Andrew) didn’t practice Thursday. Andrew looked really good on Friday, we put him through some things. He wasn’t sore this morning. I thought he was focused enough. I had to know he was ready to go. I thought those guys were ready to go,” Whipple said. “I didn’t know how it was going to go. I didn’t know until this morning. I knew Ross was going to start and I would give him through the first quarter. He certainly threw three touchdowns and did a great job. Andrew got out healthy. That’s not an easy thing. I really didn’t know what I was going to do at halftime. I always say we have two really good quarterbacks. I thought Ross took advantage of his opportunity.”

Both quarterbacks led four touchdown drives. Comis was 12-for-16 for 193 yards and three touchdowns, while Ford as 9-for-12 for 157 yards and one TD. Neither QB was intercepted.

“I think we fed off each other pretty well,” Ford said. “When I came to the sideline I tried to tell him what I saw and vice-versa.”

YOUNG SUSPENDED FIRST QUARTER — Junior tailback Marquis Young didn’t play the first quarter as a consequence of a minor rules violation.

“I had to straighten him out on a thing. Not a big deal, but big enough. Actions speak louder than words. I like the way he bounced back all week,” Whipple said. “I think he’s grown up. What you’re trying to do is to get guys to understand they’re fortunate. They’re fortunate to have a scholarship and play at this level. There’s a responsibility that goes with that. It wasn’t anything major. It’s over in my book. That’s part of growing up.”

Young bounced back with 101 yards on 13 carries in the final three quarters. It was the eighth 100-yard game of his career and the first of the season.

MISCELLANEOUS — There were 10,690 fans in attendance. GSU’s Tomarcio Reese was ejected for a targeting hit on Comis in the first quarter. Eagles coach Tyson Summers was also flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.