Blidi Wreh-Wilson and the rest of UConn's defense will try to make a statement against the team defensive coordinator Don Brown used to coach. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Welcome back to our semi-regular feature Friends With Bennies, where we sit down with another blogger to talk about their team. Today we have Frank from UMass74 to talk about tomorrow's game with UMass. I also answered some questions for them and I'll post the link here later..
TheUConnBlog: UConn fans probably know very little about UMass, give us a primer on the team. Who should UConn fans keep an eye on?
UMass74: On Offense, it's a mystery to UMass fans because we are now running the Spread Offense instead of the Pro-set we ran last year. In addition, we have a new quarterback Mike Wegzyn. This will be his first college start. The running backs are also new. Michigan transfer Mike Cox will alternate with Pitt transfer Chris Burns. True freshman Stacey Bedell will also play. Bedell is probably the Minutemen's top recruit in 2011. The wide receivers are new with Marken Michel with a grand total of three total receptions in 2011 being the most experienced receiver. The offensive line returns three starters and TE Rob Blanchflower had 18 catches for 208 yards and one TD.
The Minutemen defense switches from a 3-4 last year to 4-3. LB Perry McIntyre has 226 career tackles and 16.5 TFL. The DL returns three players with 24 career starts. Defensive lineman Kevin Byrne was All-CAA last year along with McIntyre. Notre Dame transfer Hafis Williams should get some reps. The defensive secondary is good, but there is little depth. Safety Darren Thellen has 160 career tackles and 7 INT's.
TUB: Three years ago Don Brown was your coach. Now he's running our defense. How do UMass fans feel about that?
UM74: Don Brown is one of the top defensive coaches in the nation. He did a great job in Amherst. Seeing Brown in Husky blue will be a wrench for UMass fans.
TUB: How's the transition to FBS football going? What are UMass football's goals for this year? The next five years? The next ten?
UM74: The transition seems to be going well. Coach Molnar and his staff are highly energetic. Most recruiting services had UMass rated higher than several MAC teams in 2011despite the short recruiting window. ESPN has the Minuteman's 2012 verbals rated fourth in MAC so far. Mr. Kraft is allowing UMass to use Gillette rent free. We'll have to see how attendance works out. UMass' OOC is brutal for the foreseeable future. Four BCS teams this year. Penn State, Wisconsin and other heavy hitters are in the future.
UMass is not eligible for a bowl or the MAC conference championship this year. I would say our goals are to win at least one FBS game in 2012 and gain experience.
In five years, Coach Molnar says our goal not just be competitive in the MAC, but to be one of the leagues top teams.
In ten years, I think UMass fans and administration would like to be in a league with a more Eastern orientation...
TUB: BC.... they're jerks right?
UM74: Boston College football has never really captured Massachusetts' imagination. I think they are hurting themselves by not committing to games with UMass and UConn. There is nothing like beating the team of the guy in the next cubicle over. I think a New England Championship trophy would spark interest in all three schools. It also be a totally money-maker for everybody.
TUB: Give us a prediction for Thursday night.
UM74: Don Brown's killer defense has a couple of year's head start on the rookie UMass offense. I think UConn has a decided advantage there.
The UMass defense should be more competitive. I would think UConn should be a 14+ point favorite, but the game will be entertaining.