UMass defense falters in lopsided loss to Coastal Carolina

  • UMass redshirt sophomore safety Tyris Lebeau, left, is shoved out of bounds by Coastal Carolina tight end Isaiah Likely after returning an interception for 13 yards in the first quarter of the Minutemen’s 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts head coach Walt Bell yells to his special teams preparing to receive a kickoff after Coastal Carolina's first score in the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts sophomore safety Joseph Norwood, right, pushes off Coastal Carolina's Jacqez Hairston, left, with one arm while he bears down on running back CJ Marable (1) in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss Saturday to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt junior running back Bilal Ally takes a 7-yard reception to the Coastal Carolina 5-yard line in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. Ally scored with a run on the next play and Cooper Garcia's kick tied the score at 7-7. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts head coach Walt Bell walks off the field after a media timeout in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to Coastal Carolina at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts head coach Walt Bell applauds his special teams after they downed a George Georgopoulos punt at Coastal Carolina's two-yard line in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to the Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt junior running back Bilal Ally, right, beats out Coastal Carolina defenders Cincir Evans, left, and Kameron Burton to score the Minutemen's first touchdown in a 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts freshman wide receiver Jermaine "OC" Johnson Jr., right, gets past Coastal Carolina cornerback Mallory Claybourne (7) behind a block from Sadiq Palmer, left, in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts junior quarterback Andrew Brito (12) takes a snap in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to Coastal Carolina at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts junior quarterback Andrew Brito takes a snap in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to Coastal Carolina at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts head coach Walt Bell walks off the field after a media timeout in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to Coastal Carolina at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts head coach Walt Bell applauds his special teams after they downed a George Georgopoulos punt at Coastal Carolina's two-yard line in the first quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to the Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt junior running back Bilal Ally, right, beats out Coastal Carolina safety Kameron Burton to score the Minutemen's first touchdown in a 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt wide receiver Brennon Dingle, left, is brought down by Coastal Carolina linebacker Cincir Evans after a 9-yard reception in the second quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The University of Massachusetts Minutemen offense lines up for a snap in the second quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to Coastal Carolina at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts junior quarterback Andrew Brito, right, calls for the snap from sophomore center Dalton Tomlison in the second quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to Coastal Carolina at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts offensive linemen freshman Helber Fagundes, left, and redshirt junior Larnel Coleman take the line of scrimmage against Coastal Carolina in the second quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts junior quarterback Andrew Brito, center, drops back behind blocking by linemen redshirt junior Larnel Coleman, left, and redshirt senior Mike Yerardi, right, in the second quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to Coastal Carolina at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Photographed on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Photographed on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • UMass senior cornerback Isaiah Rodgers, right, tackles Coastal Carolina wide receiver Jeremiah Miller in the second quarter of the Minutemen’s 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt junior running back Bilal Ally, top, is celebrated by linemen, from left, sophomore Dalton Tomlison, redshirt senior Mike Yerardi and redshirt sophomore Brian Abosi after scoring on a 5-yard run in the second quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to the visiting Chanticleers at McGuirk Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Photographed on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts sophomore center Dalton Tomlison, and linemen freshman Helber Fagundes and redshirt junior Larnel Coleman, right, set for a snap from the 5-yard line on a Bilal Ally touchdown run in the second quarter of the Minutemen's 62-28 loss to Coastal Carolina at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Photographed on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Photographed on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • University of Massachusetts cheerleaders run the north end zone at Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium after the Minutemen's first score against Coastal Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Photographed on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2019 7:33:13 PM
Modified: 9/22/2019 7:33:12 PM

AMHERST — Down a pair of starting offensive linemen, UMass was unable to get its ground game going Saturday against the Coastal Carolina defense, and with an already thin defensive line depleted even more by freshman tackle Billy Wooden’s injury, the Minutemen had no answers for the Chanticleers’ offense in suffering a bruising 62-28 home loss.

The lack of depth started to take its toll on the UMass defense early in the game, but the knockout punch came in the second quarter. The Minutemen lost a second freshman defensive tackle, Wilson Frederic, to injury and Coastal Carolina systematically gashed the Minutemen for long runs. The Chanticleers kept pounding the ball on the ground to tire out the UMass defense, running away with the lopsided victory.

“The overall feeling that I got was as well as they ran the ball early in the football game, we wore down a bit,” coach Walt Bell said. “Today, we were short a few bodies, then lost one or two more along the way on the interior, so they started to wear on us a little bit.”

UMass (0-4) was able to keep the game close in the first quarter thanks to one of its few positive defensive plays in the opening half. Fred Payton was fooled by the Minutemen dropping into a zone coverage after the snap and fired a pass directly into the arms of linebacker Tyris Lebeau, who returned the interception to the 12-yard line. Bilal Ally scored two plays later to tie the game with four minutes left in the quarter.

But it all went downhill from there as Coastal Carolina (3-1) began to attack the perimeter more on offense. The Chanticleers spread the field with their offense, forcing the Minutemen to make plays in space, a noted weakness of the unit entering the game. It became even more difficult with how well the Coastal Carolina receivers were blocking the UMass defensive backs on the outside. Those small details allowed the Chanticleers to gash the Minutemen with both option pitches to the outside and screens and shovel passes that forced the Minutemen to move laterally.

“Their team did a much better job at executing offensively on the perimeter than our defense did in terms of getting off blocks,” Bell said. “Credit those guys at Coastal for winning on the perimeter and staying on the edges of guys. As long as football has been around, the game has been about blocking and tackling. You can either block or get off blocks, you can tackle or you can’t tackle, they did a better job at those things — especially early in the game — than we did.”

Another major difference in the game was third downs. Coastal Carolina dealt with just five third downs through the first three quarters, and UMass was able to stop the Chanticleers on three of them. Meanwhile, the Minutemen — although they were successful on 3 of 4 fourth-down attempts — converted just 5 of 14 third downs, dropping them to just a 34.4 percent conversion rate for the season.

“That’s the number more than anything else that’s keeping us off the field,” Bell said. “With a young group, especially offensively, third downs get first downs and first downs get touchdowns, so we’ve really got to improve on third down to help keep our defense off the field.”

UMass had plenty of chances to keep pace with the Chanticleers, but failed to take advantage of a stellar game by the kick return unit. Isiaiah Rodgers averaged 40 yards on six returns, including three that allowed UMass to start on the Coastal Carolina side of the field. Yet the Minutemen scored just seven points off those three returns, notably failing to score after Rodgers’ 75-yard return to the Coastal Carolina 23.

Rodgers’ first kick return brought the Minutemen out to the Chanticleers’ 46 and UMass almost went three-and-out before saving its drive with a fake punt. But Coastal Carolina stuffed a rushing attempt on first down, the Minutemen were flagged for a hold on second down and UMass was forced to punt instead. On the drive that began at the 23, quarterback Andrew Brito was sacked on first down and it eventually led to a missed field goal by Cooper Garcia.

“When you get field position like that, that’s when you have to capitalize in Division I football,” redshirt senior quarterback Randall West said. “When you have 60 yards, 50 yards to go to score, you have to get points, whether it’s a touchdown or a field goal. When the defense makes good plays and when the return game makes good plays and sets us up in good positions, we need to be able to lock in, focus on the details and put points on the board.”

West took over late in the third quarter after Brito absorbed a hard hit while sliding and was removed to be checked for a concussion. West then led the Minutemen on back-to-back scoring drives while completing 6 of 9 throws for 108 yards and the two touchdowns on those drives. For the day, Brito completed 14 of 25 passes for 100 yards and had another interception off a tipped pass.


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