When you have a young, inexperienced team, there are never enough Bye weeks.
The UMass football team struggled during the first half of the season. The Minutemen were beaten down by BCS opponents, gave a little hell during early MAC play and then took a steel-toed boot to the shin on their way to a one-week vacation.
Since that demoralizing day in Kalamazoo, coach Charley Molnar gave his older guys a little time off and worked the new kids during practice. He laid off the hitting and, in some respects, took his foot off the gas. After limping through the most challenging gauntlet in the history of UMass football, the team earned a few moments to breathe.
This weekend, the Minutemen have to wake up and smell the second half of the season.
They have to shake off injuries, suspensions and deal with the harsh reality that a swarm of 17- and 18-year-olds are leading the charge. UMass has to suit up in front of what is sure to be a disappointing noon crowd and try to prove, once again, that this whole FBS maneuver is not an experiment, rather it’s just the way things are.
Meanwhile, on the other sideline is a tough, battle-tested Bowling Green squad that is looking to make a bowl game and shake things up in the MAC. They are big up front and play the type of trench football you think about when envisioning three tape-wrapped fingers, knuckle deep in icy Ohio mud.
The giant, angry, nickel-flipping elephant in the room is that the Falcons are simply better than the Minutemen.
UMass is missing one of its best offensive linemen (Nick Speller) and its tough-as-nails tight end (Rob Blanchflower). It is replacing them with youth and an out-of-place wide receiver. That isn’t exactly a recipe for success when facing one of the best defensive lines in the conference.
On defense, the Minutemen will be tested by the thing it fears the most – a potent running game. The Falcons have a stout offensive line and exhibit a stable of running backs that can kill you with either speed or power. Leading the charge is Anthon Samuel, who has been heating up after a slow start. Just last week, Samuel had 171 yards against Miami (OH).
Bowling Green has more horses than UMass, and that will show when the smoke clears. The Minutemen will have to wait a bit longer for that elusive first win.
- Bowling Green: 45
- UMass: 13
NOTES: There will be a few recruits visiting this weekend, here’s who we’ve heard about:
- Chris Sortir (OL), Worcester, Mass.
- Arthur Williams (S), Sebring, Fla.
- James Stokes (ATH), Philadelphia, Pa.
* Spencer Schnell, a wide receiver from Indiana, was originally supposed to attend the game, but is unable to for reasons unrelated to recruiting.