UMass football: Minutemen quarterback Carlos Davis expected to be healthy for Eastern Michigan

  • UMass quarterback Carlos Davis looks to make a pass against Miami (Ohio) during the Minutemen’s 41-28 loss on Saturday at McGuirk Alumni Stadium in Amherst. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/11/2023 4:37:56 PM

It’s not easy to win games without your starting quarterback. It becomes daunting when you have to turn to your third string QB. 

Thankfully for the UMass football team, the latter shouldn’t be the case on Saturday when it travels to play Eastern Michigan at 2 p.m. in Ypsilanti, Mich. 

UMass starting quarterback Taisun Phommachanh, who was injured during the loss to Auburn, has a pending status for Saturday’s game against the Eagles after missing Saturday’s loss to Miami (Ohio), according to Minutemen coach Don Brown on Monday.

Carlos Davis, who started against the RedHawks, left the game in the fourth quarter but Brown was optimistic his backup will be good to go against Eastern Michigan.

“Pretty early in the week to give you a full report,” Brown said during media availability on Monday. “We should be fine. Carlos is fine. Checked him out [Sunday] and he’s good to go.”

Having Davis available would be a boost for UMass (1-2), especially if Phommachanh is unable to go. Davis showed well against Miami (Ohio), finishing the game 22-of-32 through the air, throwing for 244 yards and a trio of touchdowns. 

Davis’ play helped the Minutemen get back into the game after falling behind 28-7 at the half. He connected with Greg Desrosiers and Mark Pope for touchdowns in the third quarter to cut the lead to 28-21 before finding George Johnson III for a 5-yard score with 11:16 to play that cut the deficit to 31-28. UMass did not score after Brady Olson came in under center, as the team’s No. 3 QB was 0-for-3 through the air with a pick. 

“I thought he was a little slow getting started,” Brown said of Davis. “He continued to persevere and press and I thought he played really well in the second half. He played really well in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter. We showed some complementary football during that time. We turned the sack fumble into points. I thought he stayed the course and helped us play our way back in the game.”

One thing Brown liked about Davis’ play was his ability to spread the ball around to the team’s skill players. 

Seven different Minutemen players hauled in passes from Davis, with Johnson III leading the way with seven catches and 50 yards followed by Pope (4 receptions, 75 yards), Anthony Simpson (3-34), Desrosiers (1-32), Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams (4-32), Christian Wells (2-14) and Gino Campiotti (1-12).

One player Brown said needs more targets? His former quarterback who is now playing tight end. 

“He got the ball to Simpson, he got the ball to George,” Brown said. “He got the ball to Gino. I’d like us to get more targets for Gino. I thought he sprayed the ball around pretty good. He trusted his reads and got himself going in a good fashion.”

The best solution for a backup quarterback situation? Typically, it’s a strong run game. Lynch-Adams led the way with 57 yards on the ground while Desrosiers ran for eight yards on just three carries in the home opener.

Brown hopes that getting healthy under center and continuing to establish the run game will be things UMass can focus on against Eastern Michigan.

“It’d be nice if we could stay healthy at quarterback and keep the guy on the field the whole way through,” Brown said. “That hurt us a little bit this past weekend. When we need to lean on Kay’Ron, we can lean on him.”

It was a trying day for the Minutemen, who saw their home opener disrupted by multiple weather delays. 

Miami (Ohio) took it to UMass after the initial weather delay but the Minutemen were able to settle in and make it a game in the second half. The fight they showed should be a positive for the remainder of the season. 

“The nice thing was the resiliency of the players,” Brown said. “We did not get out to the best start in the game but with 11 minutes to go, it’s 31-28. I thought our guys handled it. We just kept playing and played our way back in. That’s all you can ask. Play hard, play fast and don’t get stuck in the mud.

“[Down] 31-28 you have a chance,” Brown added. “At the end of the game you’re just hoping to have a chance. The kind of surge we had early in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter showed we can play our way back in the game. That’s where we’re hanging our hat now.”

Outside of the quarterbacks, the Minutemen are in decent shape health wise. Brown said starting linebacker Jerry Roberts will be back against the Eagles while corner Isaiah Rutherford was suffering from the flu on Saturday and will be good to go this weekend. 

“We’ll be pretty healthy,” Brown said. “We’ll get Jerry back, for sure. We’ve been pretty healthy there.”


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