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Notebook: UMass continues to struggle with field goals

  • Kicking woes are still causing problems for UMass and head coach Mark Whipple. AP



@MattVautourDHG
Saturday, September 16, 2017

PHILADELPHIA — It’s been a problem for UMass in almost every season of the FBS era — the Minutemen can’t make field goals.

On Friday, redshirt freshman Michael Schreiner missed three pivotal ones in UMass’ 29-21 loss to Temple. He has yet to make one this season.

Scheiner missed two in the first half from 23 and 39 yards, and a 32-yarder in the fourth quarter. UMass coach Mark Whipple said neither Logan Laurent, who is punting, nor Mike Caggiano, are healthy enough to place kick. Still, he was surprised at Schreiner’s struggles.

“He had his best week. We have two kickers that are hurt. You have to go to the walk-on guy. Obviously he’s not ready,” Whipple said. “He had a really good week of practice. I was surprised. … I’ve always said you’d like to get rid of the goal post. Today was another one of those days.”

Laurent, who has been the No. 1 place-kicker as well as the starting punter at some point in each of his four seasons, was expected to be the starting kicker, but Schreiner came on late in camp to earn the job, as Laurent has played through a nagging injury.

The spotlight shone even brighter on UMass’ misses because Temple made three with two different kickers successfully splitting the uprights.

After the game, junior quarterback Andrew Ford and senior linebacker Steve Casali both backed Schreiner.

“Mike Schreiner is a great kicker. We have his back,” Ford said. “As an offense, we can’t put him in that situation. We have to punch it in. That’s not on him. That’s on us.”

Casali agreed.

“Schreiner will be good. He’s our guy. The whole team has Schreiner’s back,” he said. “He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve met in my life. He’ll be fine. He’ll bounce back from this.”

It’s the second UMass-Temple game that’s been affected by the Minutemen’s kicking problems. In 2015, the Owls blocked Blake Lucas’ extra point and returned it for a defensive 2-point conversion that opened the door for Temple to come back and win.

BRENEMAN HURT AGAIN— Senior tight end Adam Breneman needed medical attention on the field after the final play of the third quarter. He wasn’t the intended receiver on the play, so it was unclear what happened. He did not return, but unlike when he was injured at Coastal Carolina, he stayed in uniform and returned to the sideline.

Whipple said he reaggravated the ankle injury he suffered at Coastal.

HOLINES PLAYS — Senior defensive tackle Sha-Ki Holines made his 2017 debut after missing the first three games of the season. He had two tackles, both behind the line of scrimmage.

NO TAKEAWAYS — UMass has now gone three straight games and 15 quarters without a takeaway.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” Whipple said.

NEW FIU DEAL FINALIZED — UMass and Florida International officially announced the agreement connected to the game added to the end of this season. The Minutemen and Panthers will play at FIU on Dec. 2 this year, as long as the Panthers haven’t earned a spot in the Conference USA championship game.

The game was added to allow both programs to play 12 games during the 2017 season after each lost a game due to Hurricane Irma complications.

The teams will play again in Amherst on Oct. 24, 2020. If FIU does reach the CUSA championship, the teams will play in Miami in a later season. UMass is already scheduled to visit the Panthers in 2018 and 2019 to return the 2015 and 2016 games played at UMass.

MISCELLANEOUS Nick Orekoya and Jesse Britt each had their first career touchdowns in the game for UMass. ... Philadelphia native Ray Thomas-Ishman Sr. was named a game captain for UMass. ... There were 22,911 fans in attendance.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage