Football was back with the UMass Minutemen, who could not get much going in a 41-0 loss to Georgia Southern. This was the first game of the season for a UMass team that, at one point this fall, was not going to play at all. UMass entered this game as a 30-plus-point underdog to Georgia Southern, which is just much further along. The Eagles jumped out to a quick lead and did not relinquish it, with a 28-0 advantage at the break. This game was never all that competitive, as UMass clearly has a long way to go.
This was to be expected. Look, we would have loved to have seen UMass come out and pull off the upset. But, realistically, after limited practices, UMass was just not ready to compete with a team like Georgia Southern, which is just so much further along as a program. And, honestly, even if UMass had started its season sooner and the practices were even, Georgia Southern probably wins big, anyway. Vegas did not make the Eagles an over 30-point favorite for no reason. UMass is desperate to compete in games like this, but the Minutemen still have a ways to go there.
Regardless of the score, this game was worth playing. Yes, UMass got clocked. Yes, the Minutemen felt like every bit the huge underdog as everyone predicted. That said, would you rather have this or nothing if you're a UMass fan? Regardless of the final score, it was important the Minutemen played this game. Listen, UMass fans are sick and tired of being told to be patient. Still, there is always something to be gained from playing a game vs. staying home and doing nothing. These kids put so much into this program. They deserve to have something to show for it, even if it is a lopsided defeat.
There were some positives. Although you had to look pretty hard for them, there were some bright spots. It may not have always seemed like it, but UMass did, as promised, improve a little bit along the line of scrimmage in terms of overall strength. Most of Georgia Southern's biggest running plays came from working the edges, and not right between the tackles. This is a very big UMass team, and the Minutemen should be able to hold up against teams that would have pushed them around in years past. The defense mostly stood tall in the second half. The offense did not find much rhythm, but was able to move the ball behind quarterback Mike Fallon pretty well toward the end of the first half. All three quarterbacks on the depth chart played. Although Ellis Merriweather did not have a big game statistically, you can see why, physically, he is someone coach Walt Bell is excited about.