Plays That Mattered: FIU

  • Fiu Golden Panthers wide receiver Maurice Alexander (1) runs for a touchdown in the second quarter as Massachusetts Minutemen cornerback Brian Roberts Jr. (43) defends as Florida International University hosts the University of Massachusetts at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami, Florida on Saturday, September 15, 2018. AL DIAZ

Staff Writer
Published: 9/17/2018 2:26:35 PM

This is another week where it is hard to pinpoint exact plays that led to UMass beginning to spiral out of control. There were plenty of big issues that were persistent throughout the game, so I chose a few plays that illustrated those points.

1. 9-yard sack by Teair Tart on Andrew Ford

Situation: 3rd-and-6 from UMass 29. 4:00 left in first quarter

Formation: UMass sent out all five of its skill position players out on routes while FIU rushed only four at the Minutemen.

The Play: Almost immediately, FIU gains good penetration against the UMass offensive line and puts some pressure on Ford. The senior quarterback correctly recognizes the gap he can step into to try to throw the ball, but Teair Tart has already beaten Lukas Kolter and closes in on Ford as he advances up in the pocket. It is unclear on video evidence if Ford actually fumbled the ball before he hit the ground on the sack, but he was spun around quickly and hurled to the ground aggressively. He was shaken up on the play and although he left the field under his own power, he did not return to the game after that hit.

2. 38-yard pass from James Morgan to Maurice Alexander

Situation: 2nd-and-3 from UMass 38. 4:00 left in second quarter.

Formation: FIU lined up with two receivers to the right, one to the left, a tight end covering the left tackle and a running back in the backfield. UMass walked a linebacker to the line of scrimmage opposite the tight end and lined up its other two in normal positions with four defensive backs on the field.

The Play: UMass blitzes its outside linebacker, but Alexander simply takes two steps back as the inside receiver on the right side and collects the screen pass. The outside receiver, Shemar Thornton, does a great job at neutralizing Isaiah Rodgers to open the hole for Alexander to pick up the first down. However, Brian Roberts Jr. takes a poor angle to Alexander and is late on trying to wrap up the receiver around the 25-yard line. Alexander easily shakes free of Roberts’ arms and then fends off Rodgers near the end zone. The score turned a reasonable 28-10 deficit into a much more daunting four-score hole.

3. 69-yard punt return by Maurice Alexander

Situation: 4th-and-13 from UMass 27. 9:20 left in third quarter.

Formation: UMass was lined up in a standard punt formation that was heavy on the right side.

The Play: George Georgopoulos unleashed a 42-yard punt to the left and Alexander caught it smoothly at his own 31. UMass seems to have Alexander surrounded around the 35, but no member of the coverage team is able to free themselves from their blocks to try to tackle Alexander. Alexander spins out of the fray at the 40 and then slips past the diving tacklers at the 45. Georgopoulos is the last Minuteman to get his shot at stopping Alexander, diving at the UMass 40 in an attempt to trip up the returner. Joseph Norwood takes one last stab around the 10, but Alexander steps through the grasp and scores to squash all the momentum UMass had been building.

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