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Frohnapfel, UMass have Colorado’s attention

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre might not be able to pronounce the UMass quarterback’s name, but he knows he poses a threat.

BOULDER – Mike MacIntyre referred to Massachusetts’ quarterback simply as No. 7 and Blake, not even attempting to pronounce his last name for fear of messing it up.

“I just know he can throw the ball really well,” the Colorado head coach cracked.

Blake Frohnapfel certainly can at that. And, for the record, it’s pronounced “FRO-napple.” His ability to run the Minutemen’s prolific offense has the Buffaloes on high alert heading into their home opener Saturday. UMass averaged 421 yards and 27 points a game last season.

“They’re a very good football team,” MacIntyre said.

One eager to get the season going, too, after a bye in Week 1.

The Buffaloes? They’re looking to turn the page on a 28-20 loss in Hawaii that included a blocked punt, three turnovers and a confusing situation during the waning seconds in which the official couldn’t spot the ball in time to run a final play. They’ve now dropped nine in a row dating back to last September, one short of tying the all-time school mark set in 1963-64 and matched in 2005-06.

Frohnapfel tried to stay up to watch Colorado’s season opener but turned the game off after a couple of plays. Understandable, since it kicked off at 1 a.m. his time.

“I was like, ‘I’ve got to go to bed,’” Frohnapfel said.

Don’t think he’s sleeping on the Buffaloes, though. He realizes what’s in store after Colorado rallied for a 41-38 win last season. Frohnapfel threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns.

“They’re a Pac-12 school and have a lot of great athletes,” said Frohnapfel, a graduate student in his second year with UMass after transferring from Marshall. “(The Hawaii game) was a tough loss for them. We’re expecting a hungry bunch of guys.”

Colorado should expect the same. The Minutemen were picked to finish fourth in the Mid-American Conference East Division – a little low for their liking.

“We feel like we can be a sleeping giant in college football,” Frohnapfel said. “We have an opportunity to make a name for ourselves this year and continue that into the future.”

Here are things to know as the Buffaloes face the Minutemen for the second time in school history:

LUNCH DATE: Each Monday, MacIntyre dines with a group of players he calls his leadership council to get their thoughts on the season. They certainly had a lot to chew on this week. “We talk about different things that we need to improve on and things that we need to do for our team and upcoming games,” MacIntyre explained. “I definitely lean on those guys hard.”

FAMILIAR FACE: UMass coach Mark Whipple and MacIntyre faced each other in 2009, when Whipple was the offensive coordinator at Miami and MacIntyre the defensive guru at Duke. The Hurricanes won 34-16 as they rallied in the fourth quarter. “A very good offensive mind,” MacIntyre said of his coaching counterpart. “I’m pretty sure they will have a few new wrinkles.”

SHOULDERING THE LOSS: Although Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau was productive with his legs – rushing 18 times for 81 yards – his arm was erratic. He completed 23 of 40 passes for 156 yards and one interception. It was the first time in his career he didn’t have a TD toss in a game. “I just have to be able to get the ball to the playmakers,” Liufau said.

SHARPE ATTACK: Expect Frohnapfel to look in the direction of senior receiver Tajae Sharpe – a lot. Sharpe is coming off a season in which he had 85 catches for 1,281 yards. “Tajae’s pretty good,” Frohnapfel said, laughing. “To have your receiver have the success he’s had in his career, and still practices the way that he does, it sets the example for everyone.”

HYBRID ROLE: Senior Rodney Mills plays fullback and tight end for the Minutemen. His 14-yard touchdown catch against Colorado last season was the first of his career.

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