UMass Quarterback Brady Olson’s crash course as FBS Field General is progressing ahead of schedule.
The true Bellingham rookie will make his fourth career start when the Minutemen (0-4) host the Toledo Rockets (2-2) at noon Saturday at McGuirk Stadium.
Coach Walt Bell’s initial plan was to let Olson learn the college game as a backup to Tyler Lytle, a transfer graduate from Colorado.
That carefully crafted schedule was shattered when Lytle suffered what was reportedly a broken wrist in the Minutemen’s 51-7 loss in the season opener at Pittsburgh.
“Every rep is important, every practice is important, every day is important, and the great thing about Brady is that he is not a repeater of mistakes,” said Bell. “He learns very easily, so he’s just getting over his mistakes and there will be some when he’s young.”
Olson made his debut on September 11 in the Minutemen’s 45-28 loss to Boston College. Olson struggled in the first half but found his traction in the second, where UMass scored all of his points. BC’s defensive strength is the secondary and Brady completed 14 of 29 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns.
“We have to limit him to what he does well and help him as much as we can as a coaching staff and the other 10 guys around him have to play well,” Bell said.
The UMass schedule was loaded up front with a pair of ACC teams out of a gate, followed by Eastern Michigan, a premier program from the Mid-America Conference.
UMass was outscored 53-3 last Saturday at No. 17 Coastal Carolina. Olson completed 14 of 23 passes for 86 yards before being relieved by Garrett Dzuro. On the season, Olson has completed 50 of 90 passes for 850 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions.
UMass has lost 15 games in a row, but is entering a win-win streak with back-to-back games at home against Toledo and UConn, who were upset by Holy Cross in their first game of the season. The Minutemen return to the stew on October 23 when they take on Florida State on the road.
“Toledo is like any other university team in the country, they are going to go out and try to play their best football,” said Bell. “They have been to a bowling game every year for a long time and I hope they play their best football.”