UMass QB Austin Whipple hoping to improve off of tough first start

Last modified: Wednesday, November 26, 2014
AMHERST — The saving grace for Austin Whipple is that he’ll get another chance.

If his rough outing had been the last game for the season for UMass, the redshirt freshman quarterback would have been forced to spend the offseason with the taste of his three-interception performance in Tuesday’s 30-6 loss at Akron.

Whipple was pressed into service when Blake Frohnapfel suffered a bone bruise in the Minutemen’s Nov. 12 win over Ball State. The record-setting starter has been on crutches ever since.

Austin Whipple completed 12-of-20 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown, but the offense didn’t move the ball well and the three picks were costly.

“I’m upset about the game obviously, but the silver lining of the game is that I get another chance to prove that’s not the kind of quarterback I want to be,” Austin Whipple said. “I’m looking forward to that opportunity.”

He’ll likely get that opportunity. Frohnapfel was still on crutches Friday and while coach Mark Whipple didn’t rule out a return for his junior, he wasn’t counting on it.

“Yeah maybe,” the coach said. “He heels better so we’ll see. He’s still on crutches, but it’s a week.”

Mark Whipple thought his son and the rest of the team would be better in their season final against Buffalo, Friday at 1 p.m. at McGuirk Stadium.

“He’s gotta play better and everyone around him has to play better. We did a poor job as coaches. We weren’t ready to play and we didn’t play well.

“(Austin) was better in the second half. It’s a fast game. Their defense came to play and they can rush the passer,” Whipple continued. “He’s got experience now. He’s never started in college. It was cold and windy against a real good defense. He just improved. He’s gotten better every day. Everyone questioned Fro when he only completed nine passes at BC. (Austin) completed 12. Everybody’s got to improve.”

Austin Whipple admitted the conditions were tough, but felt he could have handled them better.

“That was the coldest atmosphere I’d ever been in, but they have to play with it too so it wasn’t an excuse either way,” he said. “It wasn’t the easiest circumstances, but at the end of the day I didn’t play well regardless of the weather or anything like that. It was tough at first, but as the game went on I should have been able to handle it and gotten used to it.”

He hoped his second-half improvement would carry over when UMass (3-8) plays Buffalo (4-6).

“You can practice as much as you want, but once you get in a game, it’s a different speed,” Austin Whipple said. “Akron is a very good team, a very fast defense. It started to slow down for me in the second half. But it was too late.”

Spencer Whipple, Austin’s older brother and UMass’ tight ends coach, started for Miami when Mark Whipple was the offensive coordinator there. Austin Whipple thought that helped pave the way for him.

Coach “was good with me, patient. He’s been through that experience before with my brother. That helped him. He’s been around enough first-start quarterbacks to know what plays to call,” Austin Whipple said. “I think he can be more straight-forward with me. He doesn’t have to sugarcoat it. He knows me better than anyone.”

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