Fun Fact: The rainbow road travels between San Diego and Hawaii. It is best traversed with a Mario Kart.
The beleaguered UMass football team wrapped up their season this past weekend in beautiful Oahu against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. The scenery was decidedly prettier, but the results were ultimately the same as the Minutemen eventually fell 46-40 in the wee hours of the morning (for us on the east coast). Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, this game wasn’t on tv or streaming online but the few witnesses at Aloha Stadium were treated to quite the back and forth game. Once again costly mistakes sunk the Minutemen and their almost-game winning drive came up short.
Logan Laurent went 2-for-2 on field goals, both from over 35 yards! Where’s that been all year? Caggiano had an extra point blocked but I’m of the opinion that a block is not necessarily the kicker’s fault. So in the spirit of the kicker-ometer, things are looking up!
Season in Review
So here we are at the end of year 4 of full FBS football and things don’t look good. UMass finishes the 2016 campaign with a 2-10 record, so let’s take a look back at what was and what could have been.
In our preseason preview, most of us here at the UMBR singled out the FIU and Wagner games as this team’s best chance for victory, and lo and behold, we were right! While it’s nice to win, these games weren’t particularly inspiring victories against lesser opponents. The Minutemen dropped some other close games (Tulane, South Carolina, Hawaii) which would have made this season much more encouraging. If there was one bright spot with the schedule, it was impressive watching UMass hold their own against 3 SEC teams.
Let’s take a look back on the UMBR’s preseason prediction and congratulate Dan for the most accurate prediction, while simultaneously admiring Adam’s unwavering positivity:
Phil: 4-8, with wins over FIU, Old Dominion, Wagner, and Hawaii.
Dan: 3-9 with wins over FIU, Wagner, and Tulane.
Adam: 12-0, UMass runs the table and gets an invite to the Big 12 (you heard it here first).
Jeff: 5-7, with wins over FIU, Tulane, Old Dominion, LA Tech, and Wagner. The optimist in me, which somehow still exists after following UMass sports for so long, thinks the Minutemen could steal a win or two at Troy and Hawaii.
Blind optimism combined with our lack of knowledge about many of these teams led to many of these predictions, but what is the UMBR if not wild speculation?
As noted previously, we’re ending the season with things looking up! Maybe that’s a good sign for next year. While the kicker-ometer maxed out at Maybe We Should Pay This Guy and never reached the tippity top, it also didn’t dive all the way down to the depths of Billy Cundiff. So I think it’s safe to declare that this was not the Year of the Kicker.
While I was definitely impressed with quarterback Andrew Ford’s play this season (2,665 yards and 26 TDs), he had a tendency to make dumb mistakes and throw poor interceptions at the worst times possible in games. So instead, we will hand the coveted UMBR MVP award to his best friend and former high school teammate Adam Breneman. After hanging up the cleats following a few injury plagued years at Penn State, Breneman decided to give football another try at UMass and we are thankful he did. Breneman caught 70 passes this season for 808 yards and 8 touchdowns, which puts him at the top of almost every receiving category for tight ends. Breneman was easily Ford’s favorite target and hopefully will return to Amherst for one more season before possibly trying to make it in the NFL.
Looking ahead to 2017
Next year the Minutemen should have a better season (please!), as their opponents are much more in their weight class. UMass will only play two SEC teams next year (@Tennessee, @Miss St) with another tough road game at BYU. While the rest of the schedule contains some good teams, the games should at least be competitive. UMass will lose some key players on both sides of the ball, particularly defense, but for a team allowing over 35 points a game, this can’t make that big of a difference, right? Another thing to look forward to next season will be all home games played in Amherst at McGuirk! Having all games back on campus should be a boost for players and fans alike.
Additional Fun Fact
I miss #MACtion