The process is ultimately all that matters for UMass football right now.
Wins are important, sure, but with a new staff, a very young roster and a difficult schedule by Minuteman standards, the results are taking a back seat to the process right now. It’s a hard pill for UMass fans to swallow, but it’s an even harder pill for Don Brown to swallow as a guy who isn’t used to losing.
Still, with home games against Liberty (this Saturday), Buffalo (10/15) and New Mexico State (10/19) coming up, there’s a real chance for the Minutemen to show the fan base just how much the process is evolving.
“On top of a new staff, new systems offensively, defensively and in the kicking game, we’ve got a lot of young players,” Brown said during his weekly press conference Tuesday night. “A. I think we’re doing a way better job practicing, B. I think they’re retaining concepts and have an idea of what to do on each and every play, and three, they’re working hard. They’re staying in the foxhole and working their tails off. So, with that being said, we’ve struggled on offense, but we’re finding ways to move the football.”
“You can see the improvement, you can feel the improvement and that’s a good thing.”
Of course, Don Brown is a defense-first guy, so those improvements are going to be more noticeable than anything on offense.
“On defense, I think we’re 50th in total defense. I think we’ve improved a ton, giving us a chance,” Brown added. “Those guys are working at a strong pace and we’re starting to function at a high level…all we’re trying to do is win the next game.”
The most important part of the process on offense right now is figuring out how to use all three quarterbacks since all of them have unique skill sets. The fan base may not like hearing that, but Brown is still waiting for someone to grab the reigns and run away with the job.
“I go to practice every week and the quarterback position is no different than any other position. Competition is a beautiful thing, so we try to keep the foot on the gas and practice hard and fast. Everyone is getting evaluated. It’s like I told them in the spring…we’re not here to have all these scout teams and that’s all we do and if you’re not in the top two groups you’ve got virtually no shot to move. I’m a big believer in everyone gets an opportunity to compete and during the course of the week that’s what we do. That way, your lot in life can change.”
For those growing impatient already with Brown’s process, you’re probably out of luck, because while the results have been slow to show up, the team is being challenged far more than it has in recent years.
“If I brought you in and showed you what we’re doing schematically, you’d be shocked. They’ve been challenged with a lot of scheme,” said Brown. “We’re playing as much scheme now as we did at any point in those (Michigan and BC years), so the guys have done a good job of taking the concept, taking the task of learning it.
“It’s funny, we’re now playing at a different speed in practice. We’re now playing at a different speed in games, and I think it showed the last few weeks.”