UMass' latest MAC challenge: Ohio
AMHERST -- Four games into the University of Massachusetts’ inaugural season in Division I-FBS, the script changed a bit for the Minutemen.
After three lopsided losses, the Minutemen fell to 0-4, but battled Miami (Ohio) to the final moments in a 27-16 loss last week.
Things don’t get much easier this week back at home. The Minutemen will be at Gillette Stadium for a game against Mid-American Conference power Ohio.
The Bobcats come in for the 3:30 p.m. game with a perfect 4-0 record. It’s a record that includes a 24-14 upset win over Penn State at State College, Pa., on Sept. 1.
It’s a team that UMass coach Charley Molnar said he knows will be a challenge for the Minutemen.
"They know how good Ohio is. I think the Penn State game really was an eye opener for players that don’t quite know the Mid-American Conference," Molnar said during this week’s MAC coaches’ conference call. "I think that was a great wake-up call to our football team that once we get through the preseason part of our schedule, when we get into the MAC schedule, we’ve got our work cut out for us."
Coach Frank Solich’s Bobcats are 4-0 for the first time since 1976, and got there without All-MAC quarterback Tyler Tettleton. Tettleton, the son of former Major League catcher Mickey Tettleton, did not play last week against Norfolk State. Redshirt freshman Derrius Vick made his first start and threw for 199 yards and four touchdowns.
And no, this Vick is not related to Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. Derrius Vick is a Lincoln, Neb., native. Lincoln is where Solich coached for years as an assistant and the head coach at Nebraska.
"That’s a good question," Solich said, when asked during a mid-week news conference if Vick might start. "There is a possibility of that, but Tyler has won so consistently for us and is really experienced and such a good quarterback for us, that when he’s operating at a high level, it’s hard to say ‘Go sit on the bench for a couple of series.’ "