UMass: Minutemen looking to continue building on positives despite tough matchup with No. 17 Costal Carolina

Let’s get this out of the way upfront, UMass is not going to beat Costal Carolina this weekend.

That’s not the point. Well, it is, obviously winning is always the main objective, but where UMass is at right now, I think everyone can agree continued progress and not getting blown out on Saturday is plenty.

The Minutemen have shown signs of life on offense the last two weeks against Boston College and Eastern Michigan led by true freshman Brady Olson, but it’s been turnovers, chunk plays on defense and penalties that have kept UMass from earning its first win in far too long.

UMass is currently a 36-point underdog to the 17th-ranked Costal Carolina Chanticleers. If they lose by 14-20, I’d call it a win. Earlier this week, head coach Walt Bell talked about what his team will be facing this weekend.

“The thing that sticks out most, they’re an old group,” he said. “I think 10 out of the 11 on defense are seniors from an eligibility standpoint in the classroom. They’re a veteran ground same thing on offense, I believe they have eight seniors on offense. Obviously, one of the ones that’s not is the quarterback, Grayson McCall is a great player as well. Very unique scheme. It’s triple option based, but they do have the ability to push the ball down the field.

“They’re a really good play action pass team. Those guys have done a great job. Coach Chadwell, coach Durken is a UMas guy, they’ve done a great job building a scheme that fits them and done and they’ve gotten good over a three or four year period really quickly. When I was in the Sun Belt, they were just making the transition and I think in (2019) they lost to Monroe 45-42, gave up 600-some-odd yards on offense and they stayed patient. A lot of those same guys have gotten older and matured. They’re recruited well and built a really nice program.”

While Umass waits for Tyler Lytle to return, Olson has made the most of his opportunity, showcasing an ability to lead the team on productive drives that often end in touchdowns, not just field goals. Olson has shown an ability to quickly move the ball down field after a score for an immediate response, or he can lead a methodical drive to chew some clock as well. For now, the young QB who was playing for Milford High School five months ago is showing he belongs at the Division 1 level.

“We knew he was going to be a really good player that’s why we recruited him as hard as we did,” said Bell. “I think the thing he’s done really well as a freshman is his ability to overcome mistakes and execution errors early in the football game. Last week, he had a couple open throws we missed there early that had a chance to be explosive, he’s just even keeled, nice and easy, doesn’t let a few mistakes rattle him and just continues to play his game.

“I think to be that young, knowing he’s still 18 years old, to be that young and be as even keeled as he is and handle mistakes and adversity as well as he does, that’s going to be a huge think moving forward for him and his development.”

There’s suddenly a pipeline from Milford directly into Walt Bell’s office it seems as it’s not just Olson making an impact early on for UMass. Carter Scudo – a walk on – scored his first NCAA touchdown last week and Dom Schofield has seen some time at linebacker and projects to be a vital piece of the defense moving forward.

“We’ve got Dom Schofield and Brady Olson who were here on scholarship and then we took Carter as a walk on and by happenstance Carter got an opportunity well before he expected to,” added Bell. “He came here as a slot receiver, he’s already 192 lbs. he’ll be a 200-lb guy before it’s all over with. Wgen we started to lose some depth at tailback going all the way back to the spring through our shutdown and some of the other things we dealt with, when we first got back, quarantine stuff and other stuff from up to fall camp…we knew we had to add some depth there.

“Carter was kind of the best available athlete that had at least played running back. He played running back in Milford for the Olson’s, so he did a great job, he’s made the most of his opportunity and he’ll be a contributor here for the next four years in a multitude of roles I’m sure. Whether that be running back, special teams, slot receiver, he just continues to work hard and make the most of his opportunities every day.”

It’s guys like Scudo who Walt Bell wants to see continue making progress. If Scudo and other youngsters can continue to develop while working on eliminating mistakes, the brighter days fans and alumni are longing for will be here sooner rather than later. The injury bug hasn’t helped either, but as players begin to return, the Minutemen can continue turning that corner.

No one is asking the Minutemen to suddenly win eight games next season. No one is even asking UMass to win the game on Saturday, but the Minutemen can continue to show those days are in fact coming. A loss can be expected and Bell will still refuse to call anything a moral victory, but those small victories are starting to add up and another one against the Chanticleers, even in defeat, would do wonders for the program.

Just don’t get blown out. That’s it.

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