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UMass Football Coach Prepares to Face Albany Mentor
AMHERST - University of Massachusetts football coach Kevin Morris knows all about Albany coach Bob Ford, but that will not make Saturday night’s home opener any easier.
“What I know is that we had better be prepared, because he and his team will expose any flaws,” Morris said as the Minutemen (0-1) eyed the 6 p.m. game against Albany (0-1) at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.
“Coach Ford will leave no stones unturned.”
UMass played well in its opener but left some stones unturned, particularly on offense, where opportunities were not cashed in.
Now Morris will be matched against Ford, who gave the UMass coach his start in the profession.
After graduating from Williams College, Morris joined Ford’s staff in 1986 as Albany’s running backs and quarterbacks coach. Now Morris hopes to earn his first victory as UMass head coach against his mentor.
Morris coached under Ford for two seasons. Since he left in 1988, his journey has taken him to five other schools.
Morris’ head coaching debut at UMass was last week’s 21-17 loss at Kansas State. It was a solid showing on the road against a Big 12 opponent.
Better results are being sought this week.
“The game gave our kids a good idea of who they are. We’re excited about this group,” Morris said.
“This week, we’ve been working on execution.”
In football parlance, this is a “trap game” for UMass. Having nearly beaten Kansas State, the Minutemen are expected to beat Albany, but that does not figure to be easy.
The Great Danes have won the Northeast Conference title in each of the last two years. A 1959 Springfield College graduate, Ford has 234 victories in 40 years, of which 36 years have been at Albany.
He ranks first among coaches now active in what is commonly called Division I-AA.
Much of that success came at the Division II level, but Albany has enjoyed recent success in the Football Championship Subdivision as well.
Last year at Amherst, the Great Danes riddled the UMass defense with screen passes and took an early nine-point lead before losing 28-16.
This year’s game could be at least as difficult.
Albany lost 29-26 last week at Georgia Southern, where they had a fourth-quarter lead against one of the best programs in FCS play.
Redshirt freshman Andrew Smith rushed for 99 yards and collected 140 more on kickoff returns. With returning tailback David McCarty, who ran for 125 yards against UMass last year, Smith helps give Albany a multi-faceted attack.
For UMass, Kyle Havens has replaced Liam Coen as quarterback this season. Havens’ 10-for-34, 102-yard debut at Kansas State left room for improvement.
UMass did play well defensively. All-America safety Jeromy Miles graded out at 100 percent, according to the coaches, and middle linebacker Tyler Holmes had 12 tackles and an interception.
UMass football coach prepares to face Albany mentor
By RON CHIMELIS, The Republican (MA)