Mark Whipple pleased with UMass football’s first scrimmage

  • UMass tight end Adam Breneman talks with Head Coach Mark Whipple during practice Wednesday at McGuirk Stadium.

Published: 8/14/2016 7:03:13 PM

With one week of practice in the books and three until the UMass football team’s Sept. 3 season opener at Florida (7:30 p.m. Gainesville, Florida), Minuteman coach Mark Whipple was pleased with his team’s showing at Saturday night’s scrimmage.

“I thought they were prepared to play. The guys were ready to go. I thought the defense was more physical than we’ve been, which I was hoping for, and the offense made some plays,” said Whipple, who thought this week’s heat and humidity was good preparation for conditions they could face at The Swamp.

“It’s been hot the past two days and they fought through it and it was hot out here tonight. It’s good to get ready for Florida.”

The weather cooperated Saturday. The UMass football team was in its final post-scrimmage huddle when thunder cracked above McGuirk Stadium, and the rain didn’t arrive in earnest until shortly after the players and coaching staff had left the field.

With new starters and contributors up and down its roster Whipple expected week one to be a bit overwhelming.

“We’ve probably thrown too much at them. It’s what we did in the NFL, the first five days are all new plays. They’re spinning a little bit,” he said.


[bullet] Both Ross Comis and Andrew Ford showed some mobility, making good throws on roll outs. Comis rolled to his right and then hit junior Shakur Nesmith on a long touchdown pass down the middle of the field, on a coverage mixup.

[bullet] After having a diving touchdown catch negated by a penalty, Dan Jonah later snagged a sliding catch for a touchdown from Ford.

[bullet] John Robinson-Woodget, who moved to fullback full-time in the spring after being a part-time fullback/part-time linebacker last year, carried the ball during the scrimmage and had a touchdown in the red zone.

[bullet] Tight end Travis Reynolds, who rolled his ankle in practice Wednesday, was back on the field and had maybe the best catch of the night. The sophomore from Brisbane, Australia, made a one-handed grab in traffic and then held on after absorbing a hit.

[bullet] Freshmen Brennon Dingle, Sadiq Palmer and Elijah Robinson all showed off some speed and catching ability. Senior Jalen Williams remained sideline, but even when he returns, it’s s likely that at least one true freshmen will be in the receiving mix.

ALUMNI – Former Minuteman Tajae Sharpe, who was a fifth round pick of Tennessee, has earned praise for his play throughout the preseason. He made his exhibition debut, Saturday in the Titans, 27-10 win over the Chargers.

He started and caught two passes for him for a team-high 35 yards. He was actually the first Titans’ player targeted, catching a 31-yard pass from Marcus Mariota on the second play of the game from scrimmage. He left the game following the first quarter after being hit in the head. He was evaluated for a possible concussion. According to the Tennessean, tests were negative, and Sharpe was expected to practice.

Randall Jette, who signed with Green Bay as an undrafted free agent, missed a chance to play when the Hall of Fame game between the Packers and Colts was cancelled due to field conditions. He made his preseason debut Friday but didn’t make a tackle in Green Bay’s 17-11 win over Indianapolis.

Matt Vautour can be reached at Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at

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