Josh Kendall

UMass has played 2 SEC teams close; will USC be different?

UMass is not a very good football team. It says so right there in the NCAA statistics log – 123rd in the nation in total offense and 111th in the nation in total defense.

The Minutemen have won one game, and that came against Florida International more than a month ago. So how has UMass given fits to both of the SEC teams it has already played this year? Kind of with smoke and mirrors.

“I’ll tell you what they did…,” said Gators head coach Jim McElwain before reeling off a string of things.

“There are some personnel grouping things they do even with multiple linemen,” McElwain said. “They shortened the game through the pace that they played. I really felt they had a great plan as far as how to attack, hiding their deficiencies and not making them something that you could go out and exploit. I thought it was a really good plan they put together. Coach (Mark) Whipple I thought did an outstanding job.”

The Gators led the Minutemen just 10-7 heading into the fourth quarter before pulling away for a 24-7 win. However, the game wasn’t really that close. Florida outgained UMass 363-187 and gave the Minutemen four first downs via penalty.

The Minutemen’s game against Mississippi State was close statistically but the Bulldogs still outgained UMass by almost 200 yards in a 47-35 win. UMass led that game 21-20 midway through the third quarter.

“They made a lot of plays,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. “Their quarterback was lighting it up. They had some playmakers making some plays in that game and they were playing with a lot of confidence. Really, the big play kept them in the game.”

The Gamecocks may be starting another true freshman quarterback Saturday (Jake Bentley), but whoever plays, South Carolina should cover this 21-point spread.

South Carolina 35, UMass 10