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UMass running backs look to heal during bye week

Maine defensive back Jamal Clay (15) wraps up Massachusetts running back Stacey Bedell (23) during their NCAA football game in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday Sept. 7, 2013. Maine defeated Massachusetts 24-14. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Maine defensive back Jamal Clay (15) wraps up Massachusetts running back Stacey Bedell (23) during their NCAA football game in Foxborough, Mass., Saturday Sept. 7, 2013. Maine defeated Massachusetts 24-14. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia) Purchase photo reprints »

AMHERST — This weekend’s bye week gives the University of Massachusetts a chance to head to Ohio not woefully thin at running back.

UMass coach Charley Molnar hoped to have Stacey Bedell and Lorenzo Woodley back in action when the Minutemen head to Bowling Green on Oct. 5.

“If everything goes as planned they should both be ready for Bowling Green,” Molnar said. “They should both be ready.”

Both backs were injured in Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt. Injured junior Jordan Broadnax, who entered preseason as the projected starter, isn’t expect to return in time to face the Falcons. Broadnax played as a true freshman in 2011, so he still has a redshirt year available. Molnar said he isn’t ready to start thinking about utilizing it yet.

“I don’t want to say that yet. I’m going to wait to see how his injury progresses,” Molnar said.

True freshman Daquan Mack has yet to see action for UMass. Mack had a slow start to the preseason after missing most of summer session completing academic requirements in high school. Molnar said Mack’s come on lately, but if Woodley and Bedell return, Mack would likely redshirt.

“I’m on the fence about him. He’s just getting ready to play now. If we don’t use him now we probably won’t use him all year,” Molnar said. “If we can make it through Bowling Green and our running back depth stays good, we’ll look to redshirt him. If he played in summer camp like he’s playing right now, he’d have been active all season long.”

The Minutemen were scheduled for just two full practices on Tuesday and Thursday. They had meetings and lifting scheduled for Monday and Wednesday. Friday is a scheduled day off. Molnar hoped to use the practices to get longer looks as some players who haven’t made much of an impact yet.

“Over the next several days we’re really going to try to give our second line guys and our guys who look like they may or may not redshirt, one more opportunity to see what they can do to help us in 2013,” said Molnar, who pointed to redshirt freshman linebacker Vondell Langston and true freshman receiver D.J. Woods.

“We want to see if Vondell can be ready to help us. We want to get him some quality reps and see if he can make some plays,” Molnar said. “We want to see if D.J. Woods can help us at the receiver position as a backup, to see if he’s got any flexibility, to see if he can go from inside receiver to outside receiver before the year is out.”

MAC AWAITS — Molnar liked having his bye week separating nonconference and Mid-American Conference play and hoped the week off would help the team put its 0-4 start behind it.

“It’s great timing for us. It allows us to refocus on our goal, which is to do as well as we can in the MAC East,” he said. “It does allow us to go into the next stretch of the season as relatively fresh as we can be. We’ve got our bumps and bruises, but most, not all, are going to recover over this bye week. I’m excited to see what our team is going to look like next Monday or Tuesday when we got back out of the field.”

UMASS ALUMNI CLUB — The Baltimore Ravens have drawn even with the New York Giants in the race to have the most former Minutemen. The defending Super Bowl champs claimed Jeromy Miles off waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals. Miles will likely play special teams and compete for time in the secondary with former Minuteman James Ihedigbo.

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

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