UMass preview: UMass (0-3) vs. No. 17 Costal Carolina (3-0)

LINE: COASTAL CAROLINA -36 (O/U 65.5)

Three keys offensively for UMass:

1.) Tick, tick, tick…

The only shot UMass has at keeping this close is by controlling the clock. Brady Olson has shown the ability to quickly answer back with a fast drive, but this game is going to require quite a bit of patience from the freshman quarterback. If Olson and whoever is deployed out of the backfield are able to keep Costal’s offense on the field, I’m not saying they win the game, but it’ll make covering that 36-point spread much more realistic.

2.) Enough with the turnovers…

For two straight weeks, the UMass offense has had opportunities to truly put a scare into Boston College and Eastern Michigan, but penalties and more specifically terribly timed turnovers have cost them. No chance the No. 17 team in the country (at home) doesn’t take advantage of any little mistake UMass makes. Ball security is job security for anyone and everyone in this one.

3.) Don’t try and do too much…

As I wrote earlier this week, no one expects UMass to win this game. In fact, most people will probably hammer the Cahnticleers -36, but the task for Olson and the offense in this one is simple, just play clean and smart. If Costal beats the Minutemen then fine, but if Olson is throwing picks and forcing throws, or if the running backs and receivers are fumbling to halt potential scoring drives, that’s where you’ll start to lose the UMass fan base that’s slowly starting to turn its eyes back towards the program.


Three keys defensively for UMass:

1.) Slow down Grayson McCall…

Easier said then done obviously. MCCall’s thrown for 739 yards and six TD’s with just one pick so far, but he’s still only a sophomore. IF – and if it’s a big if – the UMass defense can get some pressure on him and force him to be quicker than he’d like with his decisions maybe you get him to throw you an interception or two and at least stay in it.

2.) Enough with the penalties and chunk plays…

This is basically like the turnover thing for the offense. If you’ve watched the last two weeks, you’ve seen Olson lead a touchdown drive and then almost immediately after the Minutemen are being flagged for PI or giving up a massive chunk play that puts the opponent inside the red zone within minutes of the last UMass touchdown. This seems pretty obvious, but if UMass can simply stay out of its own way and execute in big spots, maybe, just maybe this one stays close. If the Minutemen are going to continue giving up the backbreaking, momentum-killing plays or rack up the penalty yardage this one’s over at halftime.

3.) TACKLE…

It’s pretty simple, but speed kills and Costal Carolina has enough of it to make this a long day. If Umass is going to have any chance at hanging around they’re going to have to wrap up early and often.

FINAL PREDICTION: Costal Carolina 41, UMass 21

I wrote this week that UMass is putting together a stack of small victories within their defeats. I don’t think they can knock off the 17th-ranked team in the country on the road, but I do think guys are not only buying into what Walt Bell is telling them, but they’re also buying into the fact that Olson might be the real deal. When you have a quarterback that’s shown he can put points on the board, confidence quickly radiates throughout the program. UMass continues to move forward despite another loss in this one.

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