BCI: UMass started off the season with a lopsided win over Duquesne. I know there isn’t much you can take away from FCS creampuffs, but what did you see that impressed you?
Traini: In the end the thing that impressed me the most was that UMass did exactly what they were supposed to do with the Dukes. As recently as last year the Minutemen weren’t able to blow out an FCS opponent, letting Maine hang around until late in a game at Fenway Park before pulling away. Saturday the game was essentially over after UMass ran three offensive plays. That’s a positive step and a sign the program is continuing to improve.
BCI: Steve Addazio had high praise for Mark Whipple and the UMass offense during his press conference this week. What makes this offense so dangerous?
Traini: UMass’ offense is dangerous for a lot of reasons. The man running it on the sidelines (Whipple is also UMass’ OC) has a lot of experience and a rep as an offensive guru who is not afraid to change looks and use some trick plays if needed. The man running it on the field, RSr QB Andrew Ford, is one of the better passers in Minutemen history who just reached the 50 touchdown threshold for his career against Duquesne. The offensive personnel are a talented mix of veterans and young guys at all the skill positions. The run a multiple set pro-style and will definitely show BC a few looks the Eagles may not have seen before.
BCI: Good luck stopping AJ Dillon. How do you think UMass defense will attack the BC running game?
Traini: Like everyone else UMass is going to have to load the box against Dillon, but that only does so much against a back of his caliber. Minutemen DC Ed Pinkham will have to get creative with the fronts on his defense, but he is a big fan of bringing pressure. I’d expect several run blitz looks from UMass as they try to keep the pressure on in the front seven and trust their defensive backs in coverage one-on-one.
BCI: If UMass is going to win they have to___________
Traini: If UMass is going to win they have to do several things. They will need to succeed in containing Dillon, far easier said than done. They will need to take care of the football on offense, because giving the Eagles extra possessions will only lead to a loss. They will need to keep Andrew Ford upright, which was a big problem early last season but improved a lot in the second half of 2017. Finally, they will need to establish their own running game as a means of controlling the clock, because if they can keep their offense on the field, they will be able to score points against the Eagles.
BCI: Alright prediction time, what have you got?
Traini: I think this game will be more competitive than the last two games between UMass and BC, despite those prior match-ups not being lopsided scorelines. BC is still anywhere from -18 to -19, which I think will end up as a little high as I see UMass covering. Despite my aspiration, want, and need for a Minutemen victory on Saturday, I will say that the Eagles take it 35-24.