Photo – Amy Palmieri/AP
On Tuesday night during his weekly media availability, UMass head coach Don Brown did something many may never expect an old school coach like him to do.
He brought up analytics.
Brown was asked if the defense and offense are progressing to his liking through the first few weeks of the season even though results haven’t showed up on the scoreboard as fast as he and especially the fan base may have wanted. Surprisingly, he used numbers to prove they were.
“I did a little bit of analytics, after the first four weeks just to see where we were,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a comparison to the past, just kind of where we were when we started the first week and where we’ve kind of moved to and it’s interesting, it’s an interesting study. Right now, I think we’re 59th in the country in total defense, which is. sizable jump even from the beginning of the year, so that was a positive. We’re 33rd in pass defense, so obviously, our back end and the front are working together.
“In the first two weeks, we had one TFL, the last two weeks we’ve had 11. This past week was our first week of achieving our goal of seven quarterback knockdowns…there is some positives to look at and we’re getting better.”
While no one is surprised by the defense improving under a legendary defensive coach like Brown, the struggle that offensive coordinator Steve Casula has had getting things rolling so far is a bit surprising. Still, Brown is firmly behind his OC that he’s known for quite some time now.
“Very confident,” Brown said of his belief in Casula. “Steve Casula’s a great football coach. I’ve watched him and worked beside him for multiple years. I watched him do a great job as a Division 2 coach in Michigan and obviously, did a great job for Coach Harbaugh and our offense (at Michigan), so I have great confidence in his ability and how he goes about doing his business.”
As far as the quarterback carousel that the Minutemen are going through right now, the end goal is to ultimately find one guy who takes the reigns and runs away with the job by the end of the season. For now, Brown and Casula plan on continuing to deploy Wise, Olson and Campiotti with hopes that it eventually clicks for one or all three of them.
“That’s what we’re searching for,” Brown said of wanting one guy to ultimately take the job and run with it. “End of the year comes and we haven’t figured it out yet, that’s the recruiting season, so that’s what you’ve got to go look at.
“But, I believe in these guys. I watch them in practice, and to be honest with you I’d like a couple of them to take what we do in practice put it on the game field. I’m still hopeful that’s going to happen.”
Whatever happens the rest of the way, there’s been clear improvement with the defense and the offense will (most likely) find its way. The fan base my not want to hear it, but there is a shift coming and Brown is sure of it. The only problem is, it may take a while to see results on the scoreboard or in the win-loss record.
“The tide will turn,” he added. “We’ve only been at this for four weeks. We’ve just got to keep trucking and I know the best is ahead of us. We just have to weather the storm and get through it to get to the place you want to be.”