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UMass football gets practice in before Sandy arrives

The University of Massachusetts football team got practice in before the worst of Monday’s weather hit, but the Minutemen weren’t entirely unaffected by Hurricane Sandy.

“We beat the weather this morning which was really good for us,” coach Charley Molnar said. “As we were finishing up, the wind kicked up, it started to rain and the temperature dropped maybe five or 10 degrees. We couldn’t have gotten off the field at a better time.”

UMass cancelled classes Monday, preventing Molnar from learning if senior offensive lineman Nick Speller had done enough to have his academic suspension lifted. He’ll be re-evaluated Tuesday.

“There’s no update. With school being out I can’t get the information I need to move forward with him, so we’ll have to wait another day,” Molnar said.

Molnar got good news in the health department as sophomore cornerback Antoine Tharpe, who has missed the last three games with a leg injury, returned to practice. Jordan Broadnax, who came out of Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury, is expected to play in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. game at Northern Illinois.

“He strikes me as probable right now,” Molnar said.

Molnar added the Minutemen are exploring contingencies for practice on Tuesday depending on the weather.

“We have a number of scenarios based on whether school is open or cancelled. If school is cancelled and the weather is wicked here, we’ll look to practice indoors possibly even at Gillette if that’s available to us,” he said. “We may want to go to Gillette and they may say no. We’ve got to practice. If the weather is wicked and we can’t go to Gillette, we’ll practice indoors, probably in Boyden (Gymnasium). The best case scenario is just that it’s rainy and windy and we can practice here, outside.”

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

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