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Injuries to play key role in UMass football against Ohio

Ohio quarterback Derrius Vick throws a pass against Norfolk State during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Athens, Ohio. (AP Photo/The Messenger, Ryan M.L. Young)

Ohio quarterback Derrius Vick throws a pass against Norfolk State during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Athens, Ohio. (AP Photo/The Messenger, Ryan M.L. Young) Purchase photo reprints »

According to a report from the Athens Messenger, Bobcat star quarterback Tyler Tettleton returned to practice Wednesday, but only on a limited basis with backup Derrius Vick taking more of the snaps. Tettleton missed last week’s win over Norfolk State.

“We’re preparing like he’s going to play,” UMass coach Charley Molnar said. “It wouldn’t change our preparation very much.”

UMass will be waiting on the status of wide receiver Marken Michel, who missed the last two games with an arm injury, linebacker Greg Hilliard (shoulder) and offensive lineman Michael Boland and safety Christian Burt, who both had head injuries.

Marken “is better. I’m not overly optimistic. I’d use the word questionable right now. Hopefully tomorrow I can say ‘probable’ and Saturday say ‘he’s good to go.’ If we played tomorrow, I don’t think I’d play him. He’s still too tentative,” Molnar said. Boland “did some contact work today which is the first contact work that he had. Depending how he feels we’ll see if he gets the green light. ... Greg Hilliard is probably questionable.”

Defensive lineman Galen Clemons (head) and offensive lineman Matt Sparks (undisclosed), who has yet to see action this year, are out. If Hilliard doesn’t play, Mike Lee will start at nickelback, while Joe Colton or Khary Bailey-Smith would play if Birt doesn’t. Boland does not start.

Molnar said despite the injuries, the program can’t afford to cut back on contact drills in practice.

“We’re going to lean toward more contact because our team needs work on the fundamentals. We have an awful lot of young players,” he said. “We’ve had 26 freshman see action and one or two more could see action in some phase of the game. Those guys need the work. The only way you can simulate things properly is to do them live or near live.”

Freshman defensive back Jaurice Jones is expected to play. Freshman defensive lineman Al Leneus, who is still a candidate to redshirt, could also see action.

“(Jaurice) Jones is ready to play at safety. He’s starting to come on. I hope he’ll get in and get some work,” Molnar said. “I’d like not to play (Leneus). But if depth is an issue, we’ll plug him in there.”

The Bobcats are dealing with similar issues. Receivers Tyler Futrell (eight catches, 112 yards) and Landon Smith (four catches, 122) are both expected to be out according to the Messenger.

Offensive guard Sam Johnson is out for the season

On the offensive line, Eric Herman (back) and Vince Carlotta (neck/shoulder), who are among the team leaders in snaps played, are unlikely to be 100 percent even if they do play. Reserves Mike McQueen, Sam Johnson and Matt Pritchard will all miss Saturday’s game.

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