2022 Massachusetts Minutemen Preview

by Matt Fargo

Massachusetts Minutemen

2021-22 Season Record 1-11 (N/A) - 4-8-0 ATS - 7-5-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 9
Defense - 8

Overview

Since bringing football back to Amherst in 2012, Massachusetts has never compiled a winning record and in those 10 seasons, it has won two or fewer games in half of those. The Minutemen started off in the MAC and after only four years, the ties were cut and they became an Independent where it has not been any better. Yes, there were a pair of 4-8 seasons in 2017 and 2018 but they have gone 2-26 over the last three seasons and are one of the worst programs going. Enter head coach Don Brown who is back to roam the sidelines a second time after success here as a Division II team to see if he can instill any life into a listless culture. Massachusetts was ranked No. 122 in total offense, No. 126 in scoring offense, No. 125 in total defense and No. 130 in scoring defense so it has nowhere to go but up and it should improve in all categories as it brings back 17 starters and is ranked No. 4 in the country in returning production.

Offense

The offense got better, tongue in cheek, from 2020 where is scored a total of 12 points in four games but it was still not good. There were signs of potential as the Minutemen scored 27 or more points four times but also failed to crack the touchdown mark four times as well. The good news is that the offense consistently improved over the latter half of the season and it can build on that this season with nine returning starters including quarterback Brady Olson who took most of the snaps of the five that did last season. He was not good but the experience helps and he has a solid receiving corps to throw to. The pass protection was not horrible as the offensive line surrendered only 26 sacks but the offense was not on the field that much. Still, it is a capable line that will open holes for the running game that features Ellis Merriweather, easily the offensive MVP, after rushing for 1,138 yards and five touchdowns last year.

Defense

The defense had one good game against an equally horrible Connecticut team and in the nine other games against FBS teams, allowed an unfathomable 535.9 ypg and when FCS teams Rhode Island and Maine can hang 35 points on the defense, things are bad. Like the offense, experience is all over the place which can be good or bad and in this case, it will be better and probably by a decent amount as Brown oversaw some solid defenses in his time away. The defensive line is big and with a few transfers coming into the rotation, the pass rush should get a lot better after finishing No. 128 in sacks with 11. The top two returning tacklers are back as linebackers Gerrell Johnson and Da'Shon Rice combined for 156 tackles so this will be the strength of the defense. The big area that has to improve is the secondary as they finished second to last in passing efficiency defense, allowing 24 touchdowns with just two interceptions.

2022 Season Outlook

Brown compiled a 43-19 record at Massachusetts from 2004-2008 and while that was at the lower level, it is a building block. If you are a defensive coordinator at Michigan for five years from 2016-2020, you are doing something right and while this is not going to be any sort of total turnaround, things will be looking up. As an Independent, the schedule is pretty similar to past seasons as far as strength with a share of games where it should be competitive. Opening the season with four road games in their first five is not ideal but two at Temple and at Tulane provide hope along with a home game against Stony Brook. Three other games against New Mexico St., Connecticut and Arkansas St., who combined for five wins last season, are late in the season where chemistry should already be together. The O/U win total is 2.5 and the over is certainly attainable if the aforementioned areas do in fact improve. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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