This week's Three & Out: comes courtesy of Daniel Malone who covers the UMas Minutemen for The Republic/MassLive.
First down: A year since last season’s game in Akron, UMass is still a pretty bad team. The roster is deeper and more talented, but it’s far from truly being FBS-quality. The Minutemen have hung tough with a number of good teams this season, but are almost always worn down in the second half because of it. UMass came out on top last year, but I suspect the Zips’ development since then is ahead of the Minutemen’s.
Second down: The Minutemen’s quarterback situation heading into Saturday’s game is up in the air. Mike Wegzyn opened the season as the starter before being benched after one and a half games in favor of A.J. Doyle. Doyle was up-and-down, but kept the job until missing the Northern Illinois game two weeks ago with an undisclosed injury. Now, it’s not clear whether he’ll be healthy enough to play this week. Statistically, there’s not a huge difference between the two, but that kind of upheaval at quarterback is never good for a team.
Third down: Freshman running back Lorenzo Woodley, the crown jewel of UMass coach Charley Molnar’s 2013 recruiting class, has started to hit his stride in recent weeks. Pressed into extended action due to injury, he was leaned on heavily in the second half against Western Michigan on Oct. 26 (scoring what would’ve been the game-winning touchdown) before getting called on for 38 carries, 163 yards and a touchdown against the Huskies last time out. In another lost season, Woodley is reason for hope for UMass fans.
Fourth and goal: Injuries in the defensive front seven have piled up this season. On the defensive line, starting tackle Daniel Maynes and end Kevin Byrne, two veteran leaders, have been sidelined the past few weeks with leg injuries. And freshman linebackers Shane Huber and Steve Casali, both expected to be impact starters, are done for the year. It’s no surprise then that UMass is allowing 241 rushing yards per game this season. Jawon Chisholm could be in for another big day this week.