Although most of the starters this year for the UMass Minutemen will be virtually the same as they were last year, on Special Teams this is not the case. That is right, the starting kicker, punter, and long snapper for the Minutemen this year are likely going to be men who have never even stepped foot on a field wearing a Minutemen jersey with the exception of one man one game. With this being said, the unit as a whole is still good, but they lack experience in the program. Let’s take a look and see who will be playing special teams for the Minutemen this year.
Kicker: An incoming freshman, Matt Wylie really has a chance to make a name for himself this year. After Blake Lucas really struggled last year, the kicking job is up for grabs. Wylie was a star in high school who made all of his extra point attempts last year and seven field goals in his high school career. Compare this to Blake Lucas who missed a pair of field goal attempts which were under 30 yards away last year.
Punter: A graduate student with a year of eligibility remaining, coach Matt Whipple brought in punter Brian McDonald to punt for the Minutemen this year. Coaches never bring in a graduate student to sit on the bench, especially when they average roughly 38 yards per punt.
Long snapper: The only man on the special teams unit with a lick of Minutemen experience is Nick Berus. Berus who is a favorite to win the starting long snapper job this year played in one game last year against Wisconsin but dressed for a number of games. A defensive back and wide receiver in high school, Berus is nothing like the average long snapper, but he gets the job done nonetheless.
Overall, the Special Teams unit for the Minutemen this year is inexperienced but also talented at the same time. It is an upgrade from last year’s which hopefully gives them an edge in every game they play in. Not to say that others could not end up earning these jobs, but these seem like the right candidates as of right now going into the season.