MassVarsity spoke on the phone with UMass coach Mark Whipple Wednesday as the Minutemen wrap up training camp with the opener against Duquesne lurking around the corner on August 25.
Here's an edited transcript of our conversation.
MV: Have you moved into Duquesne prep, or are you still just installing and sharpening things?
MW: Today we finished up with camp. We haven't done anything with Duquesne. The coaches have. We'll present some things personnel-wise tomorrow after practice when they leave for a couple days so they have an idea. (The players') IPads have been loaded with film and stuff like that. We have some base things done from the summer gameplan-wise that we'll give it to them that they can look over and we'll get back at it on Sunday. We'll give them a couple days to get away from it for the seven-week stretch.
MV: Are there any guys on defense that you want to highlight who are playing well right now?
MW: The leadership, (linebacker) Bryton (Barr) has been really, really good. (Linebacker) Cole McCubrey has had a great camp, those two guys.
In the back end, (safety) Tyler Hayes starting for us all last year and (fellow safety) Brice McAllister are two veteran guys. We've got all the guys in the secondary who have played a lot.
Up front, (defensive tackle) Joe Previte has been the leader of the front four guys up front.
We've got a little more depth and the competition has been really good throughout camp.
MV: Offensively, how are the quarterbacks looking? Is the timing down well? You've obviously got some experience there.
MW: Andrew (Ford) and Ross (Comis) have been here. They understand what's happening and have been to camp.
The receivers, (Andy Isabella) and (Brennon) Dingle have had a good camp. Saadiq Palmer, and we've got some young guys that haven't played yet that I think are going to splash. They've (shown) a lot. They've been good.
The timing's been good. It's gotten better as we've gone. We've got a lot of quarterbacks here, which is probably good because it's certainly the best the quarterbacks' arms have been. We tend to throw a lot during during camp, but we've been able to give them a couple days off. I think that they've been solid all the way through.
MV: (Running back) Marquis (Young), how does he look right now?
MW: Marquis has been solid. He hasn't missed anything, and Bilal Ally has had a really good camp. So those two guys have been really good. Jordan Fredericks has worked the last week or so. He's coming off a knee (injury). He's done a lot of good work. So I feel good about those three guys.
Avien Peah has lined up at tight end, fullback, and the tight ends have been good.
But Marquis has looked really, really good. He hasn't missed anything and is more experienced, more explosive, and a little more physical than he's been in the past.
MV: Offensive line-wise, any guys you want to highlight there?
MW: Yeah, they've all been good. Jake Largay and (Ray Thomas-Ishman, Sr.) have been the two headline guys. Lukas Kolter has played here for five years. Derek Dumais started. Mike Yerardi started. Larnel Coleman started a game, Jaylen (Larry). So we've got seven or eight, nine guys. Brian Abosi has done a good job.
We've probably got about eight or nine guys we can play with. It's been a couple more than we've had in the past, so that's a real positive.
MV: Finally, you've had a lot of camps there, and you seem to be pretty upbeat about what you guys have. Do you feel like you're in a good spot heading into this final week getting ready?
MW: Yeah, I think it's been the hottest camp we've ever had, certainly. Obviously, with the weather, we like to stay on the grass, but we've had to go on the turf for the most part. Some of the kids, we've had three kids get IV's yesterday. We've had some other guys . . . We try to watch the heat and everything else.
But they're working really hard. That doesn't really happen if you're standing around. It's been a hot camp and it's been a real positive one. The guys have been good. They need a couple days off before we go through some mock situations tomorrow in practice and try to cover some things.
Offense, defense, and kicking game, it's been a good camp.