Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. Starting over
Timing is everything. And it's harder than you think. There's a gap between when you decide, "We're good enough to move up to FBS," and when you actually jump, and maintaining your on-field focus while prepping your facilities, figuring out your scholarship situation, etc., is tricky.
You can't blame UMass for thinking it might be ready for a jump. From the moment Mark Whipple arrived the first time, the Minutemen were one of the most consistent programs in FCS. The former Brown head coach showed up in 1998 and immediately turned a 2-9 squad into the FCS national champion. He reached the FCS playoffs twice in the next five years. Don Brown, now Michigan's defensive coordinator, took over and did it twice more in the next five years.
Between 1998 and 2010, UMass ranked 103rd or better in Jeff Sagarin's rankings seven times and only once ranked below 121st. They ranked 59th in 2006 (between Nevada and Kansas State) and 77th in 2007 (between Miami and FAU).
In April 2011, UMass announced it was finally moving up to FBS. That fall, Kevin Morris' Minutemen ranked 150th in Sagarin. In 2012, under Charley Molnar, they played a full schedule in the MAC; they ranked 178th and went 1-11. In 2013: 193rd and 1-11.
It probably wasn't hard to envision success in the MAC and a move up to the Big East/AAC. Instead, UMass stepped in a crack. And after four years as a football-only member of the MAC, neither UMass nor the MAC seemed interested in continuing the relationship. The MAC needed UMass' full athletic program to make the arrangement worth it, and that didn't happen.
So for 2016 and 2017 at least, UMass is independent. The Minutemen are 8-40 since making the leap, and five of the eight wins have come against teams that won two or fewer games that year.
The positive spin is that, after winning two games in two years under Molnar, the school welcomed Whipple back and has experienced an upgrade to six wins in two years. In computer ratings, the Minutemen have taken steps forward in each of Whipple's first two years. You can see traction.
Of course, that traction came with an experienced squad. Heading into 2016, UMass returns less of last year's production than anyone in the country. Production that low comes with almost guaranteed short-term regression.
Considering the Minutemen already have 11 games scheduled in 2018 and seven in 2019, one assumes they will be unaffiliated for a while. But if they're ever looking for that AAC alignment, 2016 regression will need to be a short-term phenomenon.
2. Creative scheduling
UMass isn't the only school that recently found itself without a football conference. Idaho and NMSU were told they would not be reupped in the Sun Belt, and while Idaho has announced it will drop to FCS soon, NMSU wants to stick it out a bit longer. Schools like UMass and Conference USA member WKU are figuring out that package-deal scheduling might result in some pretty solid opportunities.
South Carolina, scrambling to fill its 2016 football schedule, needed to host a home game on Oct. 22. Bamford realized his athletic department could do that, and more. He asked about basketball, too, trying to help his head men’s coach Derek Kellogg get a strong opponent to actually come to Amherst, Mass. The schools eventually agreed that UMass football would play a guarantee game at South Carolina, and the two men’s basketball teams would play a two-game, home-and-home series.
"It just so happens that (Gamecocks men’s basketball coach) Frank Martin's wife is a track alum of UMass," Bamford said. "Frank was great. He said, ‘This is a good RPI game, we've got do some of this on the road,’ so he said home-and-home, it's no problem. Then, when I was looking to fill the 18 schedule in football, and we have probably more of an opportunity to do it again."
A conference affiliation gives you ties to bowl games and lightens your scheduling load. You don't have to find 12 open dates for opponents. But UMass has been aggressive, and while that won't help with bowl ties if the Minutemen ever get their ship righted enough to reach 6-6, it could keep fans interested.
UMass has arranged four games with regional rivals Boston College and UConn and four with fellow independents BYU and Army. The Minutemen have three scheduled each with Mississippi State and FIU and two each with Appalachian State, Charlotte, Coastal Carolina (joining FBS in 2017), Georgia Southern, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Maine, Ohio, Old Dominion, Troy, Tulane, and USF. They've gotten four more SEC teams for at least one game (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina Tennessee), and they've made arrangements with Colorado, Indiana, and Temple. Of the 54 games scheduled so far, only three are against FCS opponents.
A recent faculty motion to drop from FBS (or drop football altogether) failed miserably, and it almost seems like young athletic director Ryan Bamford's program optimism is somewhat founded. If UMass is able to build a competitive squad, the Minutemen have some solid games arranged. So ... how quickly might they have a competitive squad?
2015 Schedule & Results
|Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 4-8 | Final F/+ Rk: 100 | Final S&P+ Rk: 97|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|26-Sep||at Notre Dame||7||27-62||L||23%||3%||+3.3||-6.0|
|10-Oct||at Bowling Green||25||38-62||L||18%||1%||-20.0||-10.5|
|31-Oct||at Ball State||110||10-20||L||27%||36%||-13.1||-7.5|
|14-Nov||at Eastern Michigan||122||28-17||W||71%||98%||+5.1||+4.0|
|Points Per Game||22.2||108||31.4||92|
3. The dreaded midseason funk
I was cautiously optimistic about UMass' squad in 2015, mostly because of the offense. I thought quarterback Blake Frohnapfel and an exciting receiving corps could do enough damage to at least temporarily make a run at bowl eligibility. I didn't trust the defense enough to predict anything beyond the range of four to six wins, but I still saw potential.
Technically, the offense did improve, from 105th in Off. S&P+ to 96th. But that wasn't quite as much as I anticipated. The defense, however, improved from 121st to 93rd in Def. S&P+, landing UMass in the S&P+ top 100 for the first time. That wasn't enough to improve the win total, however. Four one-possession losses and a midseason funk assured that any improvement would be on paper only.
- Average Percentile Performance (first 4 games): 40% (~top 75) | Record: 1-3 | Yards per play: Opp 6.1, UMass 5.7 (-0.4)
- Average Percentile Performance (next 5 games): 25% (~top 100) | Record: 0-5 | Yards per play: Opp 5.9, UMass 5.1 (-0.8)
- Average Percentile Performance (last 3 games): 46% (~top 70) | Record: 2-1 | Yards per play: UMass 5.4, Opp 4.8 (+0.6)
UMass was decent at the beginning and end of the season, but even then the Minutemen figured out ways to come up just short against Temple (which was forgivable) and Miami-Ohio (which wasn't). But there were some serious missed opportunities in the middle of the year. UMass managed just 10 points against both Kent State and Ball State in games that should have been winnable, then scored only 13 while coming up short against Akron. With players like Frohnapfel and receivers Tajae Sharpe and Marken Michel, no MAC defense should have held UMass to 13 or fewer points -- instead, four did. Maybe that lessens the blow of losing Frohnapfel and company, but not by very much.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||39.2%||96||Succ. Rt. +||94.1||97|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||31.2||100||Def. FP+||31.8||107|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.0||107||Redzone S&P+||109.7||38|
|Q1 Rk||41||1st Down Rk||105|
|Q2 Rk||86||2nd Down Rk||60|
|Q3 Rk||114||3rd Down Rk||106|
4. A good game plan, but then...
The passer rating told the tale. Frohnapfel's rating was a solid 130.3 in the first quarter; he completed 61 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and one interception. With weapons like Sharpe, Michel, and H-back Rodney Mills, this was expected. He posted a 132.2 rating in 2014, and with such a deep receiving corps, bigger things were expected.
Frohnapfel's second-quarter passer rating: 120.9. Third quarter: 105.2. Fourth: 95.1. In the second half last season, he completed just 54 percent of his passes at a paltry 9.5 yards per completion, and he threw five touchdowns to six interceptions. Yuck.
UMass' Off. S&P+ rating took a similar downward turn, from 41st in Q1 and 86th in Q2 to triple digits in both Q3 and Q4.
The strangest part about this is that the run game was far better than anticipated. Freshman Marquis Young took over as feature back and proved both efficient and explosive, and UMass ranked 50th in Rushing S&P+. But the passing game was an unexpected liability. When opponents made in-game adjustments, the Minutemen quickly ran out of answers.
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Ross Comis||6'0, 208||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7400||15||21||171||2||0||71.4%||3||12.5%||6.5|
|Austin Whipple||6'1, 210||Jr.||NR|
|Randall West||6'4, 226||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7893|
|James Sosinski||6'7, 253||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7583|
|Andrew Ford||6'3, 211||So.||NR||0.8467|
|Marquis Young||RB||6'0, 196||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8100||152||960||7||6.3||6.5||46.7%||2||2|
|Sekai Lindsay||RB||5'8, 215||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8343||34||114||1||3.4||3.6||29.4%||1||1|
|John Robinson-Woodgett||FB||6'1, 242||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||NR|
|Jon Derolus||RB/WR||5'11, 174||So.||NR||NR|
|Tyler Thompson||RB||5'11, 180||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8228|
|Bilal Ally||RB||5'10, 185||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8214|
|Peytton Pickett||RB||5'8, 183||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7993|
5. Wrap Marquis in bubble wrap
Young was caught behind the line of scrimmage a bit too much (UMass ranked 96th in stuff rate), but his balanced rushing still led him into pretty elite company.
Running backs with at least 150 carries, a 45 percent opportunity rate, and 6 highlight yards per carry: Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott, Notre Dame's CJ Prosise, North Carolina's Elijah Hood, and Young. That's it. And Young was a freshman.
Granted, Young probably benefited a bit from opponents knowing UMass was pass-happy, but he still did a lot of damage against decent to good defenses. He had five carries for 103 yards against Notre Dame and 22 for 148 against Kent State and Toledo. UMass' late-season offensive improvement came mostly because he was getting more carries: Against EMU, he had 30 for 155 yards, and against Buffalo it was 35 for 240.
Young could be a star this year, especially behind a line that returns three starters (including two key run-blockers in senior guards Fabian Hoeller and Michael Boland). But if he gets hurt, the pickings get awfully slim. Of the four other backs who carried at least 10 times in 2015, leaving sophomore Sekai Lindsay (a former star recruit), and ... ? Linebacker-turned-fullback John Robinson-Wodgett got quite a few carries in the spring game, and receiver-turned-part-time-RB Jon Derolus could be a speedy alternative. But experience and proven quality are nearly nonexistent after Young.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Shakur Nesmith||WR||6'5, 205||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8206||29||15||204||51.7%||6.2%||7.0||65.5%||31.0%||2.31|
|Marquis Young||RB||6'0, 196||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8100||20||15||71||75.0%||4.2%||3.6||40.0%||20.0%||1.52|
|Shaquille Harris||TE||6'2, 231||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7793||12||6||62||50.0%||2.5%||5.2||66.7%||33.3%||1.29|
|Sekai Lindsay||RB||5'8, 215||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8343||7||5||28||71.4%||1.5%||4.0||57.1%||14.3%||1.77|
|Andrew Libby||FB||6'1, 230||Jr.||NR||NR||6||4||23||66.7%||1.3%||3.8||66.7%||33.3%||1.17|
|Andy Isabella||WR||5'9, 187||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8400||5||2||7||40.0%||1.1%||1.4||60.0%||0.0%||0.00|
|Dan Jonah||WR||5'11, 198||Sr.||NR||NR||3||2||51||66.7%||0.6%||17.0||0.0%||66.7%||2.47|
|Bernard Davis||WR||6'1, 187||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||NR|
|A.J. Doyle||TE||6'3, 243||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8181|
|Todd Stafford||TE||6'7, 272||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8224|
|Darrian Josey||WR||6'0, 164||So.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7619|
|Lamarriel Taylor||WR||6'2, 195||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7333|
|Brennon Dingle||WR||5'10, 170||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8393|
|Sadiq Palmer||WR||6'3, 185||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8366|
|Avien Peah||TE||63, 230||Fr.||NR||0.8199|
6. A brand new passing game
There are options at both quarterback and receiver. That's the good news. My research into returning production suggests that serious turnover at QB and WR are devastating to your Off. S&P+ ratings, but if you don't have a lot of proven options, you at least want quantity.
At quarterback, UMass returns 2015 backup Ross Comis and coach's son Austin Whipple and welcomes two redshirt freshmen (Randall West and James Sosinski) and three-star JUCO Andrew Ford into the rotation. Comis looked solid in limited action last year but didn't necessarily seize control of the job this spring, and Ford will have a chance to do so this fall.
Meanwhile, the return of Jalen Williams and Shakur Nesmith means the receiving corps is not without experience. Williams was a decent all-or-nothing guy in 2014, and Nesmith was the same last year. Williams and Bernard Davis both redshirted in 2015 and will be joined by sophomores Andy Isabella and Darrian Josey, redshirt freshman Lamarriel Taylor, two high-ceiling freshmen (Brennon Dingle, Sadiq Palmer), and a wealth of tight ends. Some efficiency options will need to emerge, but the thought of Williams and Nesmith getting open deep because of a serious run threat is a pretty good one.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Fabian Hoeller||LG||6'3, 298||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||NR||12||27|
|Michael Boland||RG||6'6, 323||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||12||24|
|Elijah Wilkinson||RT||6'5, 328||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7900||12||24|
|Tyshon Henderson||LT||6'6, 326||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8100||0||0|
|Lukas Kolter||LG||6'4, 327||Jr.||NR||NR||0||0|
|Derek Dumais||RG||6'5, 321||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7750||0||0|
|Jack Driscoll||RT||6'5, 263||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8013||0||0|
|Dan DiNicola||RG||6'6, 300||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7643||0||0|
|Jake Largay||OL||6'5, 319||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8056||0||0|
|Anthony Fernandez||OL||6'6, 302||So.||2 stars (5.2)||NR||0||0|
|Mike Yerardi||OL||6'4, 301||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8113|
|James Reilly||OL||6'4, 285||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8111|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||44.4%||95||Succ. Rt. +||87.5||111|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||27.5||114||Off. FP+||26.5||117|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.3||57||Redzone S&P+||94.2||91|
|Q1 Rk||72||1st Down Rk||104|
|Q2 Rk||95||2nd Down Rk||95|
|Q3 Rk||113||3rd Down Rk||62|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Sha-Ki Holines||DT||6'3, 264||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8106||10||23.0||3.1%||9.0||1.5||0||0||0||0|
|Peter Angeh||DT||6'1, 263||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7400||12||21.5||2.9%||3.5||1.5||0||0||0||0|
|Enock Asante||DE||6'2, 262||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7000||10||9.0||1.2%||0.5||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Joe Previte||NT||6'2, 290||So.||NR||NR||5||2.5||0.3%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Michael Dowe Jr.||DE||3||2.0||0.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Mario Patton||NT||6'1, 310||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7893|
|Ali Ali-Musa||DE||6'3, 270||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8122|
|Leyshawn Askew||DT||6'6, 285||Fr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8038|
|Charly Timite||DE||6'3, 250||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7991|
|Sharif Saleem||DE||6'7, 250||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7698|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Shane Huber||ILB||6'3, 228||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8149||12||67.0||8.9%||2.5||0.0||0||0||2||0|
|Da'Sean Downey||LB||6'4, 241||Jr.||NR||NR||9||32.0||4.2%||4.5||0.0||1||1||0||0|
|Peter Ngobidi||OLB||6'2, 218||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7891||8||12.0||1.6%||2.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Steve Casali||ILB||6'1, 226||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7400||12||11.5||1.5%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jarell Addo||ILB||6'1, 190||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8100||10||6.0||0.8%||1.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Lucas Amato||ILB||6'1, 207||Jr.||NR||NR||8||5.5||0.7%||0.5||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Vondell Langston||ILB||6'0, 232||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||NR|
|D'Shan Harley||OLB||6'3, 218||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7300|
|Aaron Kinsey||OLB||6'4, 205||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7794|
|Taylor Riggins||LB||6'2, 213||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8239|
7. Step 1: Force 'em to pass
Despite massive in-season attrition in the back, coordinator Tom Masella's defense took a healthy step forward in 2015. The Minutemen were solid at stopping the run, especially in short-yardage situations. And with tackle Sha-Ki Holines returning and UMass perhaps upgrading its size up front, the run-unfriendly identity could remain this coming season. Tackles Peter Angeh and Joe Previte also return, and 270-pound JUCO Ali Ali-Musa and 310-pound redshirt freshman Mario Patton could contribute.
UMass will have to deal with turnover at linebacker, where three of the top four are gone and a fifth (Robinson-Woodgett) has moved to offense. But in general it is easier to replace production there than elsewhere on the D. Plus, junior Da'Sean Downey was a star of the spring; combined with his production (4.5 TFLs from a backup role), it's not hard to see him enjoying a breakout season. And with the return of veterans Shane Huber and Peter Ngobidi, I can't bring myself to worry too much about the front seven. I bet it will improve.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Zeke Edmonds||S||6'0, 209||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||NR||9||31.5||4.2%||1||0||0||5||0||0|
|Charan Singh||FS||6'2, 188||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7533||8||30.0||4.0%||3||1||0||1||1||0|
|Jesse Monteiro||SS||5'8, 178||Jr.||NR||NR||12||30.0||4.0%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jordin Hamilton||CB||5'10, 181||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||NR||11||15.5||2.1%||1||0||0||2||1||0|
|Lee Moses||SS||6'0, 189||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7785||5||4.5||0.6%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|James Oliphant||CB||5'8, 156||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7300||11||2.0||0.3%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jackson Porter||CB||6'1, 198||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7300|
|Brandon Mangram||CB||5'11, 174||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7800|
|Teddy Lowery||S||6'0, 225||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7683|
|Cycoby Burch||S||6'1, 190||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8381|
|Antione Webster||S||6'0, 185||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8261|
|Martin Mangram||CB||5'11, 180||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8046|
8. Step 2: Stop the pass this time
There are two primary concerns that could tamp down UMass' growth potential on defense. First, depth could be an issue. You can see a pretty strong front seven forming up front, but the Minutemen will be only a couple of injuries away from dipping into the freshman ranks.
Second, and more obvious, is pass defense. Having a decent run defense only means so much when opponents are passing at will. Granted, the secondary improved late in 2015 -- 143.4 passer rating in the first eight games, 116.7 in the last four -- but opponent had something to do with that.
The pass rush is still a question mark until Downey translates spring success into fall havoc, but the return of safety Khary Bailey-Smith will help significantly. He was one of the steadiest players on the defense in 2014, and he missed almost all of last season. But the injuries didn't stop there. Nine DBs averaged at least 0.9 tackles per game last year, but only two of them played in all 12 games. If Bailey-Smith, young safeties Zeke Edmonds and Charan Singh, and junior corner Jordin Hamilton can stay on the field, they could form the bones of a solid unit. But after last year, that's a mighty "if."
|Logan Laurent||6'4, 210||Jr.||63||42.2||5||19||13||50.8%|
|Logan Laurent||6'4, 210||Jr.||25-25||5-8||62.5%||3-4||75.0%|
|Mike Caggiano||5'11, 165||So.||3-3||1-1||100.0%||0-0||N/A|
|James Oliphant||KR||5'8, 156||So.||34||23.1||1|
|Andy Isabella||KR||5'9, 187||So.||17||18.5||0|
|Special Teams S&P+||99|
|Field Goal Efficiency||84|
|Punt Return Success Rate||58|
|Kick Return Success Rate||61|
|Punt Success Rate||85|
|Kickoff Success Rate||112|
9. Returns giveth, kicking game taketh away
Losing Trey Dudley-Giles will hurt both the pass defense and special teams, as he was a steady option in the punt return game. But the return of James Oliphant means returns should still be a strength. Unfortunately, Oliphant probably isn't very good at kicking.
UMass was dreadful in both kick and punt coverage, ranking 89th in kick return average allowed and 87th in punt return average allowed. Punter Logan Laurent's got a decent leg, but perhaps a lack of depth at defensive back bled over into special teams. Whatever the cause, it must improve for special teams to be a net positive.
2016 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|8-Oct||at Old Dominion||111||-9.0||30%|
|22-Oct||at South Carolina||63||-23.4||9%|
|Projected wins: 3.4|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-44.0% (125)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||101 / 116|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||-1 / -4.2|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||+1.3|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||24% (15%, 34%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||4.0 (-1.0)|
10. The future isn't completely dreary
FBS is churning. Idaho is moving down, and it wouldn't be a surprise if programs like NMSU, Hawaii, or even EMU were to join.
With UMass moving out of the MAC, you might assume that the Minutemen could end up on the chopping block as well, but that doesn't seem to be the case. The athletic director has done a wonderful job of finding opponents. If Whipple is able to turn this team back into a competitive team with rankings in the No. 60-90 range, UMass might put together enough interesting wins to garner interest from the AAC, or at least Conference USA.
The wins probably won't come in 2016, but there's enough young talent to be optimistic about 2017 and beyond. I assumed I would be writing an incredibly pessimistic UMass preview here, but while I don't expect much from the team in 2016 (nor does S&P+), the future isn't as bleak as you might think. In fact, it might be bright.