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2022 NCAA Football Preview: University of Massachusetts Minutemen

Ellis Merriweather the star running back from UMass is a player to watch in 2022! He is a very good running back.
Ellis Merriweather the star running back from Massachusetts is a player to watch in 2022! He is a very good running back.

University of Massachusetts Minutemen

Head Coach: Don Brown (43-19 at UMass)

2021 Record: 1-11

Offense:

In 2021, the Minutemen Offense was only able to produce 16.3 PPG and 299.7 YPG in a disappointing season. This year, UMASS is looking to turn it around under new OC Steve Casula, who came over with returning coach Don Brown from the University of Michigan. So. QB Brady Olsen looks set to take the reins as the UMASS starter in 2022.  In 2021, Olsen threw for 1,145 yards, 8 TDs, and 7 INTS in 8 games, including the Minutemen’s only win over UCONN. Olsen will have the help of returning RB Sr. Ellis Merriweather, who was the lone bright spot for the UMASS offense last season, amassing 1,138 yards and 5 TDS (adding 1 through the air) on 218 attempts in 2021. The UMASS attack will also benefit from the return of leading receiver Rico Arnold, who is entering his Senior season after totaling 27 receptions, 461 yards, and 3 TDS the prior year. So. K Cameron Carson also returns after hitting 72.7% of his FGs in 2021. The Minutemen offense hopes to be revitalized under Casula, a former analyst, and put last season’s woes behind them.

Defense:

New Defensive Coordinator Keith Dudzinski, a former University of Arizona LB Coach, looks to turn around what was one of the worst defenses in college football last season. In 2021, the Minutemen let up over 43 PPG and over 485 YPG to their opponents. However, there is one silver lining for UMASS heading into the 2022 season. The Minutemen are returning all 3 of their leading tacklers from this past season. So. DIME LB Gerrell Johnson, who was the team’s leading tackler recording 81 total tackles and 1.5 sacks, and Jr. MIKE LB Da’shon Ross, who recorded 75 total tackles, are joined by former FSU And Alabama A&M LB Marcus Cushnie to lead the defensive. Standout CB Donte Lindsey is also returning for his junior season after posting 56 tackles and 1 interception in 2021. Dudzinski will have his work cut out for him if he wants to improve a defense that was bottom in the NCAA last season but he will have a number of returning leaders to help lighten the load.   

Summary:

The Minutemen had a season they hope to soon forget in 2021, going 1-11 and losing by an average of 37 PPG. Their offense and defense both ranked in the bottom 10 of all of Division 1 and there were few bright spots to turn too. That being said, the rehire of Don Brown could prove to be a step in the right direction. Brown went 43-19 as the UMASS HC from 2004-2008, when UMASS was still competing at the FCS level. He led the Minutemen to the best five year stretch in school history and won back to back conference titles in 06-07. Unfortunately, this isn’t the FCS. UMASS will continue to struggle in 2022, but will have more to cheer about in the years to come.

2022 UMASS Football Schedule (Predicted W/L)

  • Sept. 3 – @ Tulane (L)
  • Sept. 10 – @ Toledo (L)
  • Sept. 17 – Stony Brook (W)
  • Sept. 24 – @ Temple (L)
  • Oct. 1 – @ Eastern Michigan (L)
  • Oct. 8 – Liberty (L)
  • Oct. 15 – Buffalo (L)
  • Oct. 29 – NM State (W)
  • Novt. 4 – @ UCONN (L)
  • Nov. 12 – @ Arkansas State (L)
  • Nov. 19 – @ Texas A&M (L)
  • Nov. 26 – Army (L)

Projected 2022 Record: 2-10

Written By: Steve DeFruscio

Instagram: @redshirt_szn

Twitter: @redshirt_szn , @stevedefruscio

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