UMass head coach Mark Whipple and the Minutemen held the team’s annual media day on Wednesday, with the countdown to the season-opening “Battle for the Bay State” against Boston College at 17 days.
“Things are going well,” Whipple told the assembled media, according to a video on the team’s website. “The guys are competing. The attitude is good. They’re grounded, they’ve been focused. I just see improvement every day. We’ve got a long ways to go, but we’ve certainly improved since last spring.”
— UMass Athletics (@UMassAthletics) August 13, 2014
Asked if he sees similarities between camp in 2014 and his first camp in his first go-around in Amherst in 1998, Whipple laughed.
“You’d probably still want to give the ball to Marcel Shipp,” he joked, referring to the former Minutemen star running back who still holds multiple records in Amherst.
Shipp, of course, joined Whipple’s staff as running backs coach this offseason.
Whipple told reporters he’s liked what he’s seen from his team so far in camp, praised the team’s new football performance center and the effect it’s had on day-to-day operations and talked about going up against BC and good friends Steve Addazio and Don Brown.
After the team went through consecutive 1-11 seasons in Years 1 and 2 as an FBS program, Whipple made it clear where he thinks the turnaround begins.
“I think it all starts with attitude. And I’ve seen a hungry group, guys that are willing to do whatever,” he told reporters. “And I see a group that’s got a lot of respect for one another, and that’s really important because it’s a team game and the team can explode if you start pointing fingers from defense to offense and offense to defense and special teams.”
— UMass Football (@UMassFootball) August 13, 2014
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.