About 11 years ago, I was a high school football player down in Florida. I spent my afternoons and early evenings fighting off mosquitoes, heat and the humbling reality that neither me nor my team were very good at football.
Our team was slow, we had no depth, and our only saving grace was the fact that we were too dumb to know how outrageously talented every other team in our division was.
We lost, a lot, by a lot – to almost everyone.
The first game of the year had us against Glades Day – a traditional football powerhouse that, at that time, was the No. 3 team in the entire state. Our coaches didn’t tell us this. They didn’t tell us anything about the Gators. They simply had the scout teams run their plays while screaming about how we were going to go down there and win.
We went down there and arrived at a sold-out stadium that smelled of sugar cane, sweat and very, very angry locals.
By the grace of odd bounces and timely tackling, we went into the half down by three. The fans booed us. Police separated the teams as we jarred at each other from in front of the adjoining locker rooms.
We had set the world on fire. We were a team with a mission. We were the new kids on the block, and we were not going to be intimidated by anyone.
We lost by 28.
I tell you this story because it reminds me of the situation facing UMass. The Minutemen are headed into their first season as an FBS school and have no real concept of what they are walking into. While Coach Molnar and his staff have gone above and beyond to prepare this team for the weekly pressures of FBS football, the team lacks experience, depth, and, to be candid, talent.
UMass is implementing a new offense with a new quarterback, new receivers, new linemen and a new running back. New isn’t a bad thing, but new might not be ready, yet. The newness of the whole thing may catch UConn off-guard a few times, but this Husky team has a lot of experienced talent on defense and won’t be fooled easily.
UConn also brings the heat often, and with a rookie quarterback behind a line that has a lot of youth, that might cause trouble.
Vegas has the Minutemen as 24.5 dogs tomorrow, and I don’t think that’s too far off. Even a quick simulation on NCAA 2013 yields a 41-7 drubbing.
I think that, much like my ill-begotten high school football team, the Minutemen will come out of the gates hard and may give bookies across America anxiety going into the half. However, UConn’s depth and talent will eventually be the great separator, and the Huskies will win big, minus the hook.
- UConn: 41
- UMass: 17