There was a period of time where I legitimately thought I could train myself to dunk.
I went to the local Wal-Mart and bought two relatively heavy ankle weights. I wore them every day, for about two months. They were uncomfortable and made my legs sweat profusely. I figured that by the time basketball season came around, my body would be duped into flight.
I showed up early to the first practice, ready to unwrap my new rocket legs. I moseyed up to the free throw line, took a few steps, launched off the hardwood and … the top layer of middle finger skin cells barely scraped the bottom of the hoop.
Better stick to layups, kid.
The UMass football team has been playing with ankle weights – metaphorically of course (I hope). Out of the gates, UMass faced off against three BCS programs with different schemes, and bigger and faster athletes. As the Minutemen head into conference play, they are surely battle tested (if not battle scarred). They are taking off the weights, rolling up their sleeves and preparing to finally fight someone their own size.
Against Miami, I think UMass can dunk – a tennis ball.
The Redhawks are no longer a MAC powerhouse. Their team has gone completely one dimensional and has all but given up on the running game. The offensive line is a work in progress, and the defense, while solid against the pass, has trouble stopping teams on the ground.
Of course, it’s hard to gauge how good a team will be in the MAC based on performances against Ohio State and Boise State. However, Miami dropped its final three games last year, lost its top receiver, and allowed 14 points to a below average Southern Illinois squad. Things are a work in progress in Oxford.
The Minutemen will try to test the Redhawk defense with the same balanced attack it used at Michigan. A few quick outs, a sweep, and maybe an occasional deep ball that only seems to work when done via flea flicker. It also wouldn’t be the Molnar Minutemen if they didn’t run the old handoff-to-fake-throw maneuver – hands down my least favorite play in the book.
Miami doesn’t have the athletes to put the pressure on like UConn and Michigan. The ever-improving Mike Wegzyn should have time to throw, and if he doesn’t force it, may have himself his first touchdown pass(es). If Mike Cox plays as well as he did against the Wolverines, he will break the century mark.
What happens on defense is anyone’s guess.
UMass surprised many with it’s opening week performance against UConn. It held the line and did a nice job against the run. Then, in consecutive weeks against Indiana and Michigan, the defense disappeared. There were glimmers of decency, but generally UMass played matador to the Big 10 bullies.
While the entire defensive unit will need to be on point, the secondary is sure to be tested against the Redhawks. Perhaps fittingly, Molnar named Christian Birt to be a game captain. Birt, who had an interception for a touchdown against Michigan, has come back from injury and worked his way into the lineup as a steady safety. He and Darren Thellen will work to keep Miami’s Zac Dysert honest, but the cornerbacks will have their work cut out for them.
At the end of the day, I think UMass will do a better job on offense and actually execute in the red zone. However, I think the Redhawks still have more depth and talent this year and will eventually wear down the UMass defense. Miami is favored by 24.5, but I don’t think that’s legit.
The Minutemen will at least touch rim:
- Miami (OH): 31
- UMass: 17