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There isn’t a ton of hope for Massachusetts football, but that’s just how it goes for the school. The Minutemen have yet to find success at the FBS level and this year will probably be more of the same. While they return 15 starters, some of the guys missing eventually signed on as NFL free agents. They’ll have experience at quarterback, but turning that into wins will be tough.

Andrew Ford took over in the third game last year and went on for a solid 26-TD, 14-INT campaign with a 60.8% completion rate. The goal is for him to improve with a lot of the same faces around him from tight end and high school teammate Adam Breneman (70 receptions, 808 yards, 8 TDs) to top wide out Andy Isabella (62 receptions, 801 yards, 7 TDs). Top running back Marquis Young (898 yards, 4 TDs) will aim for a better campaign and maybe 1,000 yards, but the offensive line could inhibit that. The line returns just two starters with four of the projected starters set to be sophomores. If the line struggles, Ford will have a hard time improving, but at least he has the same weapons around him from a team that scored 23.3 points per game.

Defense will always be an issue until something different happens for the Minutemen. They gave up 35.5 points per game a year ago and even with seven starters back, that doesn’t mean success. Either way, Mark Whipple brought in new coordinator Ed Pinkham from Western Michigan with hopes of changing things up. He has some players to work with in linebackers Steve Casali and Da’Sean Downey. The line has a couple seniors and sophomore Isaiah Rodgers could be a solid cornerback, but this is still a group that struggled at every level last year.

At the least, surpassing two wins should be possible this season as their schedule is slightly more favorable. An opening home game against Hawaii stands out followed by tilts against Coastal Carolina and ODU. But outside of meeting Maine at Fenway park, UMass could have trouble finding a fourth or fifth win. The most likely scenario for more wins would be beating Ohio or Georgia Southern at home, but those still aren’t easy games. That’s mainly because most of UMass’s opponents scheduled them in hopes of an easy win.

The Minutemen have a chance to reach three wins, but three wins isn’t something to get excited about. With Ford on offense and a new coordinator on defense, there will be improvements, yet when looking at the schedule, finding more than a few wins is difficult.


2017 Massachusetts Minutemen Football Schedule

Aug. 26 vs. Hawaii
Sept. 2 at Coastal Carolina
Sept. 9 vs. Old Dominion
Sept. 15 at Temple

Sept. 23 at Tennessee
Sept. 30 vs. Ohio
Oct. 14 at South Florida

Oct. 21 vs. Georgia Southern
Oct. 28 vs. Appalachian State
Nov. 4 at Mississippi State
Nov. 11 vs. Maine (Fenway Park)
Nov. 18 at BYU

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