Unknowns UMass, Boston College set to open 2014 college football season

Last modified: Thursday, September 04, 2014

AMHERST — On Wednesday’s Atlantic Coast Conference coach’s teleconference, Boston College coach Steve Addazio admitted that breaking down video would have a little role in his team’s preparation for Saturday’s season opener against UMass.

UMass coach Mark Whipple hasn’t coached in college since 2010 and video from 2011 and 2012 when he coached with the Cleveland Browns wouldn’t really be relevant. UMass defensive coordinator Tom Masella coached offense last year and video of new UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel during his Marshall career is limited and somewhat outdated.

“Yeah, I mean, there’s no film. You’ve got new coordinators on both sides, a new coach. You can watch a little tape from last year for personnel, but otherwise it’s hard,” Addazio said. “We’re used to spending the week grinding out cut‑ups and watching tape, and it’s not really what you can do, so it’s an uncomfortable feeling.”

He said that will lead to a lot of coaching on the fly.

“I think you’re preparing for a lot of things and then you’ve quickly got to figure out which one of what you thought you’d get, you got, and make sure your plan is sound and tweak it where you need to,” he said.

It’s little consolation to Addazio that Whipple is still learning about his own team.

“We’re becoming a team and I think that only happens on game day,” said Whipple, who had specific areas he was curious to see.

“With the level of physicality Boston College brings, can we hang in there on both sides of the ball? Speed on the outside?” he added. “We think we have some guys that can run, we’ll see how we matchup to an ACC team. Leadership? It’s not going to be a perfect game. Let’s see when things start to crumble how we keep it together.”

Regardless of the result, he was confident his team would benefit from the game.

“We’ll be a better football team at 6 o’clock and know what our real strengths and weaknesses are. I think the preparations have gone pretty well,” he said after his radio show Thursday. “I thought we had a really good night Wednesday and I thought we cleaned up a lot of things today.”

Time & location: 3 p.m. Gillette Stadium, Foxborough

2013 Records: BC finished 7-6. UMass was 1-11.

All-time series: BC leads either 18-5 or 19-5. The Eagles list an 18-0 BC win in 1899 that UMass doesn’t have in its records.

Last meeting: BC beat UMass 45-17 in 2011.

TV/Internet: ESPN3; Links can be found at umassathletics.com

Radio: WWEI-FM (105.5)

Weather: Partly sunny, mid 70’s.

When UMass has the ball: The Minutemen have quite a few new starters all over the offense, led by Frohnapfel, who’ll be playing behind a largely reconstituted offense line, while throwing to a handful of new receivers.

With key additions the group should be more capable than last year’s team that struggled to move the ball or stay on the field, but will the new players click right out of the gate? UMass is counting on them to and a lot of that will depend on Frohnapfel.

BC starts seven seniors on defense, but lost four of its top six tacklers from 2013. The Minutemen will likely try to see how effective junior tailback Jamal Wilson can be early in hopes of creating space for Frohnapfel.

When BC has the ball: The Eagles are replacing their top rusher (Andre Williams, 355 carries for 2,177 yards), passer (Chase Rettig, 153.5 yards per game, 17 TD passes) and receiver (Alex Amidon (77 catches for 1,031 yards) so there’s uncertainty coming into the game. Five-year Florida transfer quarterback Tyler Murphy completed 112 of 185 passes for 1,216 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions last year, replacing injured starter Jeff Driskel.

With Driskel returning, Murphy decided to transfer for a chance to start. Murphy is a Connecticut native making BC an appealing landing spot.

Murphy will be throwing to three new receivers. Former backup quarterback Josh Bordner is starting at one slot alongside freshman Charlie Callinan and junior Dan Crimmins.

“We’re a lot more well‑rounded than we were a year ago. We feel good about our whole group. We’re an interesting group, we’re a big group,” Addazio said. “The three starting guys out there are all 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5, anywhere from 225 to 250, and we’ve got a couple of young guys that are explosive that are smaller. It’s just a question of the inexperience and the youth of that group, but the talent level of that group has really risen.”

Myles Willis, who had 60 carries for 356 yards last year as a freshman, has big cleats to fill replacing Williams. BC’s big, experienced and deep offensive line that is competing against UMass’ smaller, inexperienced unit, and will likely try to keep the ball on the ground to control field position and the clock.

NOTES — As of Friday afternoon, 27,000 tickets had been sold. Junior college offensive lineman Ryan Johnson has been academically cleared to play for UMass. He’ll begin practice next week and could be available Sept. 6 vs. Colorado at Gillette. JUCO tight end Jean Sifin is still waiting to be cleared, but it could come as early as next week.

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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