Spring practice underway for UMass football

  • JERREY ROBERTSMcGuirk Stadium, home of the UMass Minutemen. JERREY ROBERTS

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

After a winter of lifting and running in cold conditions, the UMass football team was happy to be back doing actual football activities.

The Minutemen held one practice before last week’s break, but resumed spring practice in earnest Tuesday evening.

“It’s awesome to go out and lift and condition, but those 5:30 or 6 a.m. workouts kind of get old,” said quarterback Andrew Ford. “It’s good to finally be out on the field to put the strength and endurance we built in the offseason to use.”

UMass coach Mark Whipple was pleased with the small sample size.

“Today was good,” Whipple said. “They had a good workout (Monday) in the weight room and practiced pretty good.”

Ford, who didn’t join the program until last summer, said being on campus this spring offers him a chance to make considerable strides.

“At this point last year I was home, not really sure what was going on in spring ball up here,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to be out here with the guys and a much better feeling going into my second year where I know the offense and I know the speed that Coach Whip wants to go at. I have a really good feel for the offense. It’s night and day from last year.”

Ford completed 222 of 365 passes last year for 2,665 yards. He threw 26 touchdowns and was intercepted 14 times.

Whipple was pleased with Ford’s transformation.

“He knows what’s going on. That helps and I think he’s a real good leader,” he said. “Andrew has played and had a really good year.”

The spring game is on April 20, at 7 p.m. at McGuirk Stadium.

COMIS THROWS Ross Comis, who missed the end of the last season with a torn ACL, has expanded the things he can do.

“He’s throwing. He ran good yesterday,” Whipple said.

He won’t participate fully and will be limited through the spring.

NEW COACHES Matt Dawson, who was an assistant coach for defensive line and special teams last year, was hired as the defensive coordinator at Norfolk State, an FCS school in Virginia.

He’s been replaced by Dave Wissman, who’ll coach defensive line under new defensive coordinator Ed Pinkam.

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