After an exciting win over Auburn last Saturday the Commodores have a chance at getting back to .500…
Scouting Report: Massachusetts
It's been a year of transition for the Minutemen, who switched from a pro-style attack to a spread, no-huddle scheme. Defensively, UMass also made a switch from the 3-4 to a run stopping, 4-3 defense.
Last week, against Bowling Green, the Minutemen defense had one of its best outings of the year, holding the Falcons to 282 total yards and 94 yards rushing. UMass allowed just seven points in the first half.
The long play of the day was near the end of the third quarter. Michael Cox broke a 32-yard run to put the Minutemen into Falcon territory for the first time of the game. UMass was held to six first downs and 118 total yards, including 33 yards passing. Minutemen quarterbacks Mike Wegzyn and A.J. Doyle had two interceptions each. Massachusetts entered enemy territory twice, the furthest being the Bowling Green 31-yard line--both resulted in interceptions.
The Minutemen could not get anything going on offense and Bowling Green wore down the defense as the game went on. The Falcons would add two touchdowns in the third quarter and a field goal in the fourth for their fifth victory of the season.
Quarterback Mike Wegzyn has shown improvement in his first year starting for the Minutemen. The redshirt freshman has completed 108-of-212 for 1,045 yards and four touchdowns. Wegzyn is also second on the team, rushing for 155 yards and a score on 59 carries.
The Minutemen's experienced offensive line is led by tackles Stephane Milhim and Anthony Dima who started every game a year ago. UMass has true freshman Michael Boland and Matt Sparks covering the guard positions. In the middle, Quinton Sales is stated as one of the top centers in program history with 22 career starts.
Fifth-year senior Michael Cox leads the team at running back with 437 yards and three touchdowns. Cox has caught 6 passes for a loss of 2 yards this year. Sophomore Jordan Broadnax is third on the team with 37 carries for 73 yards rushing and a score.
Deion Walker leads the Minutemen receiving corps with 34 catches for 424 yards and a touchdown. In five starts in the last five games, Walker has posted 33 catches for 400 yards.
The UMass passing offense should have junior tight end Rob Blanchflower back from an injury. Blanchflower is third on the team with 17 receptions and 186 yards receiving. Sophomore Marken Michel has tallied 16 receptions for 131 yards receiving.
Alan Williams was suspended for academic-related related issues but is expected to be back for Vanderbilt. The fifth-year running back is second on the team with 19 receptions and scored all three of his touchdowns against Ohio.
Defensively the Minutemen have struggled in the transition to the 4-3 defense. UMass opponents average 228.7 rushing yards and 239.4 passing yards per game. Opposing teams are racking up 40.7 points per game against the Minutemen which would put them at 116th in the FBS.
Defensive end Kevin Byrne returns on a defensive line that brings back three starters from last year and got a nice addition in Notre Dame transfer Hafis Williams. In seven starts, Byrne has tallied 11 tackles, including 2½ for a loss, with a team-high 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. Williams has been outstanding and leads the defensive line with 30 tackles and 3½ tackles for a loss.
Fifth-year senior Charles Thompson leads the team with 4½ tackles for a loss, and 23 total tackles. Stanley Andre has flourished after switching from outside linebacker to defensive end. The redshirt sophomore is second among the defensive line with 27 tackles, including 3 for a loss, with a sack, and a forced fumble.
Senior inside linebacker Perry McIntyre has been outstanding for the Minutemen and leads the team with 77 tackles, including 3½ for a loss. Last week against Bowling Green outside linebacker Kassan Messiah posted a career-high 16 tackles. Messiah is tied for second on the team with 44 tackles, including 3 for a loss, and a sack.
True freshman Jovan Santos-Knox gets his fourth starting nod against the 'Dores. The rookie outside linebacker has posted 12 tackles, including 1½ for a loss in three starts.
Fifth-year senior Darren Thellen is one of the most experienced cogs in the Minutemen defense with 35 starts coming into the Vanderbilt game. The talented safety is tied for second on the team with 44 tackles, with team-highs in interceptions (2), and passes deflected (4).
True freshman cornerback Trey Dudley-Giles has played well in his year with 25 tackles. The freshman had a career-high 8 tackles against Ohio, with 2 passes deflected. Redshirt freshman Randall Jette holds down the other cornerback position with seven starts this season with 26 tackles and 3 passes deflected.
Redshirt junior Christian Birt returned an interception 32 yards for a score against Michigan and is fifth on the team with 32 tackles in five games played. The junior safety tallied a season-high 11 tackles against Western Michigan for his second career double digit game.
The Minutemen have used two place kickers with freshman Blake Lucas and redshirt junior Brendon Levengood both seeing action this year. Lucas has handled field goal duties lately and is 2 for 3, with a season-high of 30 yards. Levengood was 3 for 5, with a season-long of 32 yards against Michigan.
The Minutemen punt return team is averaging 1-yard per punt return. The season long was a 29-yard return by true freshman Trey Dudley-Giles against Western Michigan. Sophomore Jordan Broadnax returned a kickoff 61 yards against Miami and averages 22.9 yards per kickoff return.
Minuteman punter Colter Johnson kicked a season-long 66-yard punt last week against Bowling Green and averaged an impressive 47.8 yards per punt. Teams are averaging 13.3 yards per punt return and UConn blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown against the Minutemen.
The future is certainly bright for the young Minutemen team that includes a large group of underclassmen who will continue to get valuable experience in a building year. This Vandy squad is looking remarkably similar to the 2011 team that steadily improved as the season went on.
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