Notebook: UMass leaves Gillette, set to play 2017 at McGuirk

  • LA Tech Bulldogs receiver Carlos Henderson breaking a tackle by UMass Minuteman Steve Casali enroute to a 50 yard touchdown reception during first quarter action at Gillette Stadium on Friday October 15, 2016. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff)

@MattVautourDHG
Published: 10/15/2016 11:02:53 PM

FOXBOROUGH —  When the UMass football team walked off the field after Saturday’s 56-28 loss to Louisiana Tech, it marked the last time they’ll see Gillette Stadium for a while.

The Minutemen will play all six of their 2017 home games at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst. UMass doesn’t have another game scheduled in the New England Patriots’ home until Nov. 10, 2018 when it hosts BYU.

UMass began playing at the NFL stadium across the state from campus in 2012, its first season in the Bowl Subdivision. The move held two purposes: McGuirk Stadium’s press box wasn’t up to standards for the Mid-American Conference, and certain opponents – Indiana, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Colorado and Mississippi State – agreed play the Minutemen in Gillette, but not in Amherst.

UMass’ early plan to face as many Power 5 conference schools as possible required Gillette as part of the equation.

When McGuirk was renovated prior to the 2014 season, the Minutemen began playing three games in Foxborough and three in Amherst.

But shortly after athletic director Ryan Bamford’s arrival, he stated he hoped to move the Minutemen back to campus as much as possible, especially given their struggles to draw fans in Foxborough.

UMass will still use Gillette for high-profile opponents and New England rivalry games with Boston College and UConn, but that will be more like one per season than a full schedule split.

The Minutemen are 2-18 at Gillette and were outscored 650-402, an average 32.5 to 20.1.

OFFICIAL FRUSTRATION – A week after UMass coach Mark Whipple was frustrated by a call at Old Dominion that cost his team points, a non-call on what he believed was offensive pass interference in the third quarter agitated him Saturday.

He thought not having a conference prevented his team from getting the benefit of familiar officials, but it also kept him from being punished by a commissioner for criticizing them.

“It’s disheartening two weeks in a row. It’s a negative about being an independent,” he said. “I don’t know what they can do to me saying the officiating has been terrible. We weren’t good enough to beat those guys today. But we’re giving our guys a chance. I thought our guys were ready to go.”

INJURIES – Quarterback Ross Comis and linebacker/safety hybrid Tedrick Lowery didn’t dress, while defensive lineman Ali Al-Musa and receiver Jalen Williams were both limited by injuries for the Minutemen.

Marquis Young didn’t have a carry in the second half as he left with an undisclosed injury. Linebacker Da’Sean Downey and defensive lineman Sha-Ki Holines also were in street clothes after the game.

“They’ll be all right,” Whipple said. “That’s where we are right now.”

KICKING/RED ZONE WOES – After Mike Caggiano missed a 33-yard field goal in the first half, Logan Laurent missed a 36-yard try in the second half. Whipple excused Laurent’s miss.

“Logan has been sick all week. He hasn’t kicked,” he said.

Caggiano is 19-for-19 on extra points is 0-for-2 in field goals. Laurent is 1-for-2 on field goals.

TRUE FRESHMEN – Several UMass rookies had noteworthy efforts. Isaiah Rodgers had five kickoff returns for 142 yards.

Bakhari Goodson had his first career interception and returned it 21 yards.

With Young out, Bilal Ally had a career-high six carries for 37 yards.

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




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