UMass looks to get ball rolling against Ball State

Last modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2015
AMHERST — For a long time, Ball State was the answer to a UMass trivia question — who was the last Bowl Subdivision/Division I-A team the Minutemen beat? From 1984 to 2012, a stretch that included quite a few years when UMass didn’t play any schools in the higher division, the answer was BSU.

Not until the Minutemen won at Akron in 2012, their first year in the FBS, were the Cardinals let off the hook.

At the moment, BSU is the last Mid-American Conference team UMass has beaten. Since winning 24-10 at McGuirk Stadium on Nov. 12, 2014, the Minutemen have lost five straight in conference. UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel missed the first two of that stretch with a broken leg.

The Minutemen (1-6, 0-3 MAC) are hoping Saturday’s 1 p.m. game against Ball State (2-5, 1-3 MAC) in Muncie, Indiana, is historic in its own right, a pebble that starts an avalanche as they try to turn their season around.

“I want to have my best five games. Every senior wants to leave their mark on the last five games,” senior linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox said. “I don’t see any quit in anybody. A 6-6 season would be a successful season. That’s what we’re going for.”

Ball State opened the season with wins over Virginia Military and Eastern Michigan surrounding a loss to Texas A&M. But the Cardinals have dropped five straight with losses to Northwestern, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Georgia State and Central Michigan. Ball State is 0-3 vs. FBS teams at home this season.

Ball State represents an opportunity for UMass’ offense to break out. The Cardinals have allowed an average of 491.4 yards and 35.3 points per game. They’ve allowed more passing yards per game (295.4) and touchdown passes (15) than anyone in the MAC.

UMass coach Mark Whipple was more concerned with getting his own players clicking than trying to attack Ball State’s weaknesses.

“We’ve got a huge challenge. Mostly I’m just trying to get our guys going the right way,” he said. “We have to try to learn to play a 60-minute game.”

FROHNAPFEL HONORED — Frohnapfel is one of 12 National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame 2015 National Scholar Athletes and is a finalist for the 2015 William V. Campbell Trophy.

Frohnapfel and the other 11 scholar athletes will each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship from Fidelity Investments. He’ll attend the NFF awards dinner on Dec. 8, where the William V. Campbell Trophy will be awarded. The winner will have their scholarship increased to $25,000.

Frohnapfel is pursuing a double graduate degree (MBA/MS) in UMass’ Isenberg School of Management. He has a 3.67 GPA.

“I’m truly humbled and honored to be recognized by the National Football Foundation in a class of impressive student athletes,” Frohnapfel said in the release announcing his honor. “Earning my graduate degree and playing football for the University of Massachusetts is an opportunity that will have a positive impact on my future.”

ANOTHER RECORD IN RANGE — Senior receiver Tajae Sharpe is 15 catches away from tying Jimmy Moore’s 1998 single-season record of 92.

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