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FootballFrom the Other SidelineInterviews

From the Other Sideline – UMass

Frank Smith is a graduate of the UMass Isenberg School of Business. He has been a fan of UMass football for a long time and has a better blog (aptly named UMass Football Blog) than most fans of teams that should have better blogs. I commend it.

1. What’s the first thing a UMass fan thinks of when Auburn football comes to mind?

Auburn football is big time SEC football. Passionate fans. Great game atmosphere. I wish I could be there this Saturday!

2. What’s the vibe like in Amherst after breaking the 26 game road losing streak at New Mexico State last week?

Relief, after being in the wilderness for years. In FCS, UMass was good. Nineteen times conference champion. The Minutemen played in the National Championship game three times. FCS has a real sixteen team playoff. Not the bogus two or four team playoff chosen by a committee a la FBS. We think UMass will continue to improve under Coach Brown and will be a competitive team in the Group-of-Five.

3. Name two Minutemen that Auburn fans should look out for and why?

On offense, Clemson transfer QB Taisun Phommachanh is the quarterback UMass has needed for years. He played well against New Mexico State and had a 156.9 EFF rating. WR Anthony Simpson, a transfer from Arizona has SEC speed. He had three receptions for 65 yards and a TD and added 27 yards on the ground.

On defense, DE Marcus Bradley a 2022 transfer from Vanderbilt. He’s been a force for us. CB Jordan Mahoney was first-team All Independent in 2022 and is an excellent cover guy. BTW, UMass was 9th in the nation in pass defense in 2022. Auburn was 59th…

4. Which two Auburn Tigers worry you the most?

The entire Auburn backfield. The Tigers have tons of talent at RB, and I expect them to run right at us behind a big and athletic offensive line.

5. Where does UMass have an advantage in this game?

We’ve played a game and we’re loose. We’re hoping Auburn has a number of first-game “Was that my guy?” episodes.

6. Where will Auburn excel most against the Minutemen?

Auburn has a huge advantage in speed and talent on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Tigers also have more depth than we could ever hope for.

7. Who are your two favorite Auburn Tigers of all time and why?

Gotta name Cam Newton because he was one of the best QB’s I’ve ever seen. My other favorite is Bo Jackson, because, well, he was Bo Jackson…

8. What is your score prediction/analysis for this game?

Auburn fans should be aware UMass is 10-1 all-time ATS for SEC teams. I think the Minutemen will keep it close for the first half. After that, Auburn’s depth and speed will take its toll. Tigers 42 Minutemen 20

9. Where will Auburn and UMass end up this year?

I think Auburn is a lock for a bowl game. The Tigers will beat UMass and New Mexico State as well as Samford. I think Auburn will crush Cal and Vanderbilt, which is five wins right there. The Tigers should be competitive with Texas A&M and Arkansas. I think Auburn will beat one or both. Georgia, LSU and Alabama will have to wait to 2024.

Now that UMass has opened with a win, I think four or five wins are possible in 2023. If things fall right, our season-ending grudge match with UConn could be for our fifth or sixth win.

10. What do you think about Hugh Freeze?

Excellent coach. He had Liberty as one of the Group-of-Five’s best teams. Last year the Flames played four Power Five teams and came within an eyelash of beating all four.

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