Fallon, Johnson, Koch top UMass quarterback depth chart for opener with Georgia Southern

  • UMass head coach Walt Bell watches quarterback Michael Curtis, left, during spring practice, March 19, 2019 at McGuirk Stadium. Mike Fallon, another quarterback, looks on. Fallon is No. 1 on the depth chart entering UMass’ opener with Georgia Southern on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Sports Editor
Published: 10/13/2020 8:47:41 PM

UMass released its first depth chart of the football season on Tuesday and redshirt senior Mike Fallon is the No. 1 quarterback.

Whether he starts when the Minutemen open the season against Georgia Southern on Saturday remains to be seen.

Redshirt sophomore Josiah Johnson, who played tight end last season, and true freshman Will Koch are behind Fallon. Both players are listed as “or” underneath Fallon, meaning that either player may start or play in place of Fallon come Saturday.

“There will be a guy out there when we take the first snap,” UMass coach Walt Bell said during his virtual press conference Tuesday.

Bell has been tight-lipped about his starting quarterback even since the program returned with the intent to play in the fall. Bell has repeatedly said over the last few weeks that there is a competition and everyone is involved.

On Tuesday, he said all three quarterbacks are “close.”

“The biggest thing with Fallon is ... just an older veteran guy who has been around and can operate the line of scrimmage,” Bell said. “Obviously Josiah’s a big, great athlete; really improved as a quarterback knowing it’s his second year in the system. And then Will Koch, again, unbelievable athlete ... can really run. Still developing as a quarterback. ... All three of them have something to give and we’re excited for whoever gets a chance to go play.”

Tuesday’s depth chart was the first indication of the direction Bell is headed with his quarterbacks.

Notably missing from the conversation is the most experienced player at the position, Andrew Brito. The redshirt junior started six of the nine games he appeared in at quarterback last season. He finished the season 93 of 170 for 830 yards passing, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

Bell said Brito will travel with the team on Saturday.

Fallon, who grew up in Milton and played at Milton High School, appeared in one game last season. He debuted when he took over for an injured Michael Curtis during a win over Akron on Sept. 28, 2019. He finished that game 2-for-2 for 40 yards. One of those passes went for 34 yards to Johnson. The other went to Taylor Edwards.

Bell said “trust” will be the determining factor this week when he decides on his starting QB.

“More than anything else, who can be the stockbroker and who can we trust, mange the line of scrimmage, make smart decisions, protect the football and play with the team’s best interest,” Bell said. “I think that’s what we got to do first. There is so much trust when you put that guy out there knowing that every life within the program, every decision he makes, all of our lives are in that guy’s hands. So trust is the biggest thing.”

When UMass takes the field Saturday, it will have had fewer than 20 practices since it announced its return to the fall season. The team only learned about playing Georgia Southern last Thursday, giving it little time to prepare for an opponent. A few more practices this week will allow the QBs to get a little deeper into the playbook. Bell said one or more QBs could see snaps.

“I’m excited to see those guys play, and hopefully the 10 other guys around him, especially since we improved physically, can take some of the burden off that guy and let him play winning football,” Bell said.

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