FACTS & STATS: Site: Dix Stadium (25,319) — Kent, Ohio. Television:
ESPN3.com. Home Record: Massachusetts 0-3, Kent State 0-2. Away Record:
Massachusetts 0-3, Kent State 0-3. Neutral Record: Massachusetts 0-0, Kent
State 0-0. Conference Record: Massachusetts 0-2, Kent State 0-2. Series
Record: First meeting.
GAME NOTES: Despite having a firm handle on the team’s first win this season,
the Massachusetts Minutemen let a late lead slip away last weekend, and will
now try to rebound this Saturday as they travel to face the winless Kent State
Golden Flashes in a Mid-American Conference bout at Dix Stadium.
UMass, which is now 0-6 this season after running up against previously
winless Miami-Ohio, was downed by the RedHawks, 42-41, after owning a healthy
lead in last weekend’s game. Miami had the longest losing streak in the FBS,
which now belongs to the Minutemen at 12 games dating back to last season.
Kent State has struggled mightily this season to an 0-5 record, but nearly
took the game last weekend against Northern Illinois in a 17-14 loss. The
three-point defeat was the Golden Flashes’ closest game since a season-opening
loss to Ohio saw Kent State defeated on a game-winning field goal.
Although Massachusetts has been a member of the FBS for several seasons now,
the Minutemen and Golden Flashes, despite being in the same conference, still
haven’t met on the football field.
The UMass offense has been working just fine in the team’s past two losses to
Miami-Ohio and Bowling Green, but the defense has been struggling to contain
anyone. Owning a 41-21 lead at halftime and a 41-28 lead at the end of three
quarters, it seemed UMass had the game against Miami wrapped up. But untimely
turnovers and penalties cost the Minutemen field position and points, and
benefited the RedHawks greatly in the comeback effort. For the second straight
week, transfer quarterback Blake Frohnapfel was stellar, registering 389 yards
and four passing touchdowns against Miami, although he did throw two
interceptions in the loss.
Massachusetts has upped its scoring average to 27.7 ppg and passing stats to
318.8 passing ypg thanks to Frohnapfel, who has 15 touchdown tosses this
season and 1,860 yards through six games (eighth-most in the FBS). His top
wideouts, Tajae Sharpe and Rodney Mills, have been on the receiving end of
nine of Frohnapfel’s 15 touchdown passes. Sharpe leads the team with 678
receiving yards on 41 receptions – more than double what Jean Sifrin has for
second on the squad (20).
Shadrach Abrokwah has started to emerge as a viable weapon out of the
backfield in the run game, which averages a measly 77.5 ypg this season.
Abrokwah gained 128 yards and scored a touchdown in the loss to Miami last
weekend. He now has 165 yards and a pair of scores in two games played.
Again, the defense for the Minutemen has been a consistent problem. Allowing
497.3 total offensive ypg to opponents, UMass ranks 115th in the country in
total defense. The team is also ranked 118th in the FBS in scoring defense,
giving up 40.3 ppg to the opposition.
Linebackers Jovan Santos-Knox (team-leading 67 tackles) and Stanley Andre (62
tackles) have set themselves apart, although defensive back Joe Colton (53
tackles) has been a help disrupting opposing quarterbacks in the backfield.
Santos-Knox and Colton have four tackles for loss each, and Randall Jette tops
the squad with three interceptions. The Minutemen have notched a mere six
sacks in six games played.
Kent State trailed Northern Illinois by a score of 17-6 entering the final
quarter of last Saturday’s contest. A touchdown by quarterback Colin Reardon
and a two-point conversion put the Golden Flashes down by just three points,
but the team couldn’t come up with another score in the losing effort. Still,
Reardon had a decent day under center, throwing for 244 yards on 20-of-36
passing with a rushing touchdown. Aside from the Northern Illinois game,
Reardon has struggled with turnovers, having thrown nine interceptions in five
As a unit, the Golden Flashes are averaging just 209.2 passing ypg and 261
total offensive ypg. Kent State also ranks second to last in the FBS in
scoring offense, netting 10.8 ppg – in a tie with fellow MAC program Eastern
Michigan. The running game for the team is virtually non-existent, averaging
51.8 ypg. Reardon’s rushing score against NIU was the first for the Golden
Flashes on the season.
Nick Holley leads the team in rushing with 152 yards (2.9 ypc) on 53 carries.
The team is clearly missing Trayion Durham, who has been sidelined since
preseason camp with a foot injury.
It doesn’t help Kent State’s cause to know that the team’s non-conference
schedule has been grueling this season. The Golden Flashes dropped contests to
South Alabama, Ohio State and Virginia, and have a matchup with Army next
weekend. Through five games, the team is allowing 33.6 ppg and 462.2 total ypg
to opponents. The offense owns a 30.7 percent third-down conversion
percentage, and the defense is allowing a 51.4 third-down conversion
percentage to the opposition.
Safety Nate Holley has a remarkable 72 tackles this season – by far the most
on his team (the next closest player on Kent State has 39 tackles). In fact,
Holley ranks in a tie for second in terms of total tackles in the country,
averaging 14.4 per game. Linebacker Jordan Italiano has a team-leading 2.5
tackles for loss, while as a unit the Golden Flashes have notched just two
sacks in five games played.
So UMass goes from playing one winless team to the next in conference play,
all while remaining winless on its own. But the Minutemen offense, led by
Frohnapfel, is simply too good right now to stay winless. The team has just
made costly mistakes and poor defensive decisions to get to this point. Even
on the road, the UMass offense should be too much for a dismal Kent State
offense to keep pace.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Massachusetts 32, Kent State 21