‘Enough blame to go around’ in UMass football’s season-opening loss at Tulane

  • UMass head coach Don Brown watches the action during the Minutemen's 42-10 season-opening loss at Tulane on Saturday evening in New Orleans, La. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass quarterback Gino Campiotti runs the ball during the Minutemen's 42-10 season-opening loss at Tulane on Saturday evening in New Orleans, La. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • The Tulane defense holds up UMass running back Ellis Merriweather during the Minutemen's 42-10 season-opening loss at Tulane on Saturday evening in New Orleans, La. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

  • UMass defensive backs Te’Rai Powell and Tyler Rudolph team for a tackle during the Minutemen's 42-10 season-opening loss at Tulane on Saturday evening in New Orleans, La. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/4/2022 12:04:20 AM
Modified: 9/4/2022 12:00:31 AM

Run as it wanted, the UMass football team rarely reached where it needed.

The Minutemen gained 200 yards on the ground in their season opener Saturday night but took 58 carries to get there and fell 42-10 against Tulane in New Orleans.

They only threw for 17 yards (on 4-of-11 completions), and quarterbacks Gino Campiotti (two) and Brady Olson (one) combined for three interceptions, all on their own side of the field. UMass (0-1) also allowed more than 20 yards per punt return and made poor decisions during its kickoff returns.

“There’s enough blame to go around, that’s for sure,” UMass coach Don Brown said.

Tulane (1-0) scored on six of its seven drives with its starting offense in the game. After holding the Minutemen to one first down to open the game, the Green Wave marched 31 yards in six plays and capped their opening drive with a Tyjae Spears six-yard touchdown run.

After a UMass three and out, the Minutemen held Tulane for four plays to get the ball back after Jalon Ferrell knocked a pass away on fourth down. Campiotti teamed with Indiana transfer Tim Baldwin Jr. on the ground, plodding the ball to the 4-yard line before the first quarter buzzer sounded.

The Minutemen faced fourth-and-two from the 4. Brown kept the offense on the field, and the ball remained in Campiotti’s hands. He rammed through the line for a four-yard score, his first at the FBS level. That made it 7-7 just four seconds into the period.

“We have to do those things in that particular game to gain some momentum,” Brown said of the decision. 

It went as quickly as it came. Tulane responded with a 13-play, 77-yard drive that Spears capped with a one-yard score.

UMass did not respond as well. Despite the success of Campiotti and Baldwin (13 carries, 65 yards) on the previous drive, the Minutemen turned to Olson. Ellis Merriweather gained two yards on first and second down before Olson threw an interception to Macon Clark at UMass’ 36.

“We went the way we planned to go. We were going to play both guys. Obviously with Gino his strengths in the game are telling and easy to see. We’ve got to do a great job bringing him along in his weaknesses. I have every ounce of confidence we will do that,” Brown said. “Brady had his moments, but between the two of them you can’t have three interceptions.”

Spears scored his third touchdown of the first half on a four-yard run with 5:59 to halftime, already a career high, and gave Tulane a 21-7 lead.

UMass then embarked on an 18-play, 65-yard drive that ate 5:45 and ended with a CJ Kolodziey 32-yard field goal. The Minutemen ran the ball 16 times in a row before a Campiotti throw away rolling to his right came at the goal line. They entered halftime down 21-10 but never cut the gap.

Tulane scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, converting its first three drives to scores before pulling its starters.

“In the second quarter it looked like we were making progress,” Brown said. “That puts you in a deep hole, and one we never recovered from.”

UMass picked up just two first downs after halftime.

“We have some guys that like to play the game. We have some guys who need to put both feet in the ground and decide they need to be great football players,” Brown said. “If they make that decision, it’ll help our development. If they don’t, we’ll go with the guys that do.”

Tulane started four drives in UMass territory and scored on three of them.

“A great defensive football team will dig its way out of that,” Brown said. “I didn’t think at any point during the course of the game that we got control of the game.”

The Minutemen committed seven penalties and gave Tulane 77 yards, including two on fourth down in the first half that allowed the Green Wave to retake the lead.

“It would be nice to just go play the game and not have to overcome the negative things,” Brown said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.
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