UMass faces mighty challenge

"They're bigger, faster and more experienced," Mark Whipple said of the Kansas State Wildcats. "There's just no way for us to practice against that kind of size and speed. Handling their speed early will be very important."

Whipple is the coach of the University of Massachusetts Minutemen team that will enter KSU Stadium on Saturday for a 1:10 p.m. kickoff.

UMass is 1-0 and ranked No. 10 in NCAA Division I-AA football; K-State is 3-0 and ranked No. 6/7 in Division I-AA football.

And yes, Whipple is most respectful of the challenge at hand.

"Look at what they did to McNeese State early," Whipple said of last week's 24-0 first-quarter Wildcat lead. "And that was against the No. 1 team in Division I-AA football. They just seem to knock everyone out in the first quarter."

If there's a plus-side to the day, it's the fact that Whipple's club will not have to face the talents of Ell Roberson at quarterback.

Roberson suffered an injury to the little finger on his left hand in last week's McNeese State game. The Heisman Trophy candidate did undergo surgery that included inserting two pins into the injured area.

A date for his return is still a mystery.

Roberson's place will be taken by fifth-year senior Jeff Schwinn, who quarterback coach Del Miller compares in ability and style to former Wildcat signal caller Matt Miller (1995), who now tutors the Wildcats' tight ends.

"Matt might have been a little faster, but both have toughness and understanding of the offense," Miller said. "I think he's ready and his future is now."

Miller says he has seen Schwinn grow into a "pretty good thrower," and while not possessing the swiftness of Roberson, "He won't run around you, but he will run over you. He has more of a fullback mentality."

What Miller is not concerned about is Schwinn's abilities to take over the leadership of the team.

"This is a unique situation," Miller said. "Jeff is a fifth-year guy and the players have great respect for how Jeff has developed in our program and come up the hard way as a walk-on. They like what Jeff Schwinn is all about."

Both Snyder and Miller say that Kansas State's offense will not change with a new quarterback.

Snyder said, "We'll do what we do."

Miller added, "Both Jeff and Dylan (Meier) have a good grasp on what we're doing. We'll do the same things that we did with Ell."

Snyder has said he does not have a predetermined substituting plan, but says that he plans, and hopes, both quarterbacks will see action.

The Minutemen will face a Wildcat defense that Whipple defines as "... so fundamentally sound. There's not a weak point anywhere to attack and they play with such great pride. They are so fast and they run to a ball, and a lot of them."

Up next for Kansas State will be a game against Marshall on Sept. 20, at KSU Stadium. The game has been changed from a 1:10 kickoff to 11:30 a.m., as it will be shown on Fox Sports Net.

Purple Pride Top Stories