UMass K Logan Laurent hoping for quiet consistency in his final season

  • UMass kicker Logan Laurent at practice Aug. 8, at Gladchuck Field. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • UMass kicker Logan Laurent, left, talks to Tim Silvernail, who is the director of player personnel, during practice Aug. 8, at Gladchuck Field. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Logan Laurent’s No. 1 goal is no drama.

Place kicking from any distance has been an adventure for UMass in recent years. Last year, UMass made just one of its first five field goal tries, with initial starter Mike Caggiano missing two and Laurent missing two.

But Laurent settled down and made the last six of the season. He is hoping to carry that success into 2017.

“If there’s no talk about the kicking game, that means I’m doing my job so I’m happy,” said Laurent, who’ll also start at punter again.

Laurent has been limited by an injury to his non-kicking foot, but it isn’t expected to sideline him for long.

Despite that, Whipple said the place-kicking job belongs to the Temecula, California, native.

“Logan is the starter,” he said. “He’s solid, consistent. He’s a good kicker, a real good kicker and a good punter. We’ll see how it goes. He’s solid. He’ll make a kick when we need to.”

Whipple said Caggiano, a junior who kicked extra points last year, shook off an early injury early in camp and has kicked better.

Redshirt freshman Mike Schreiner will likely handle kickoffs.

Laurent thought his comfort level with snapper Nick Berus and holder Andrew Libby would pay off.

“I think the more reps you get as a unit the more successful you can be. The amount of games, the more places you play, the more experience, the more comfortable you are,” Laurent said. “But like I’ve always said, you just have to kick the ball high and far.”

NO UPDATE ON HUBER — Whipple wasn’t sure when there would be a determination on whether senior linebacker Shane Huber would have another knee surgery.

Huber, who suffered an injury late in the summer, is at home in New Jersey.

“I didn’t talk to him today. He’s at home with his family. It doesn’t really look good. I told him to hang in there and when you want to come back, come back,” Whipple said. “He’ll have to make some decisions on what he wants to do, whether he wants to have surgery or try to come back. I’m leaving it with him and his family.”

TIGHT END/FULLBACK — Redshirt freshman Avien Peah, who signed as a tight end, is getting reps at fullback and could line up in a variety of places over the course of the season.

Redshirt sophomore Kyle Horn, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, is back and competing with Travis Reynolds for time at tight end behind or alongside starter Adam Brenneman, who was limited Wednesday with what Whipple called a slight hamstring injury.

“He’ll be back next week,” Whipple said.

LOW EXPECTATIONS — USA Today, ESPN and Las Vegas all predict UMass will be better than it was a year ago, but all three have the Minutemen below .500.

USA Today released projected records for all 130 FBS teams Monday and had UMass finishing 3-9. It predicted that all 11 FBS teams on the Minutemen’s schedule would finish .500 or better, making them bowl eligible.

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) had UMass ranked No. 112 out of 130. Its projected record, which is based on a mathematical formula, is 4.3-7.4.

Minuteman opponents Georgia Southern (113) and Coastal Carolina (118) are below them and Hawaii, UMass’ Aug. 26 opponent, is just above it at 107.

Las Vegas is less optimistic. According to the Bovada sports book, the over/under on UMass’ win total is three games, which puts it in the bottom five of the 130 Division I teams with Rutgers (three), Kansas (three), UAB (2.5) and UTEP (2.5).

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