D3 Football: Catching Up with MIT First-Year Coach Brian Bubna

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Brian Bubna directs both the MIT offense and defense during Tuesday’s morning session at Steinbrenner Stadium. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan)

By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11

Earlier today, I unveiled some takeaways from what I saw from yesterday’s meeting with the MIT football team.

But after practiced concluded, I had a chance to quickly catch-up with first-year coach Brian Bubna, who is eager to lead the Engineers into their first game next Friday, August 31st when they host Becker College at Steinbrenner Stadium (kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.).

Here are some takeaways from my conversation with Coach Bubna, who is no stranger to the Engineers football team. Bubna has spent nine seasons with the program, and was most recently the squad’s defensive and recruiting coordinator before being named the head coach in March.

On creating a fun, but competitive environment: “We try to keep it competitive and fun because these guys have so much academic responsibilities and internships, so when they get out here it has to be fun and it has to be excitable, too. We work hard and have fun doing it, so the guys enjoy it. We go from drill to drill with different stuff. We try to change it up, so it is not the same thing every day, so we can keep them on their toes.”

On what party means to the MIT football team: “Yeah, that is just kind of our definition for how we want to go about working hard or what our intensity level is and just how we want to do things each day. So, it is about going hard and having fun, so that is what party means to us.”

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Udgam Goyal receives some advice from Coach Bubna during Tuesday’s morning session. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan)

On inching closer to the start of a new season: “There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, so as coaches we’re going, ‘oh man, we’ve got to work this situation, these scenarios or work these different special teams’ things,’ so there is so much to work on and so much to practice, and even going through it once (or) twice is not enough. You need to get more reps in, so I think the guys are getting more and more excited for our first game, while the coaches are still thinking about what we need to accomplish between now and then, but that is just part of being a coach.”

On being more involved with the game plan instead of just focusing on defense: “It definitely adds to the amount that you have to look at and worry about when putting together a game plan. So it’s great if the defense looks great, but on the other hand it’s like well, what was the issue offensively that we have to worry about? So, it has to be all offense, defense and special teams – it can’t just be a one-sided plan, so it adds to the amount that you have to look at, but we’ll make it work.”

On more young coaches (or former players) that want to get into coaching: “It is one of these things where if you want to try and get into coaching, you kind of have to do it early on or after you graduate. I started a bit later than most guys, but you have to get in when you’re young. It does take a while to move up, but we have been pretty fortunate here at MIT with a lot of our coaches coming back year after year. Some of them started as volunteers, but are now paid coaches, but I think being a little bit on the younger side helps with relating to the guys because you’re younger, as well. Also, the rule changes you see in the NFL and college shows that every year football is changing and there is new kickoff rules this year, so every year is changing and you have to be adaptable to it. I don’t think any other sport has changed as much as football has in the past 10-to-20 years to make it safer, competitive and entertaining, but these are all good changes.”


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D3 Football: Bubna, MIT Begin New Chapter of Engineers Football

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John Robertson rushes past members of the MIT defense during Tuesday’s practice at Steinbrenner Stadium. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan)

By Matt Noonan | @MattNoonan11

It’s football season – yes, it has finally returned. And for the past few days, I have had the opportunity to visit with a few teams, including MIT, which seems eager to begin its season next Friday, August 31st when they host Becker College at 7 p.m.

This fall, MIT will be guided by the program’s former defensive and recruiting coordinator, Brian Bubna, who takes over for Chad Martinovich, who left earlier this year to accept the head coaching role with the University of Rochester.

Since being named the new leader of the Engineers, Bubna has implemented a unique culture that values two things: hard work, but also making sure his student-athletes are have fun.

Additionally, Bubna and his student-athletes have also embraced another word (or phrase, which appeared on the team’s Twitter handle a few days ago) – sure, it may not always be associated with the sport of football, but it seems to be keeping a smile on the players’ faces, though.

So, what is this word? The answer … party!

But, why party?

Well, allow senior linebacker Andrew DeNucci to explain what it means to this group of Engineers: “(Coach Bubna’s) big thing is party. Come out here, have a good time … we’re playing football, so we are out here to party and have fun.”

Added Bubna, “We try to keep it competitive and fun because these guys have so much academic responsibilities and internships, so when they get out here it has to be fun and it has to be excitable, too.

“We work hard and have fun doing it, so the guys enjoy it. We go from drill to drill with different stuff. We try to change it up, so it is not the same thing every day, so we can keep them on their toes.”

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MIT quarterback Udgam Goyal leads the offense during an 11-on-11 drill during Tuesday’s morning session. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan)

Tuesday’s morning session seemed like a fun practice – I was able to watch the final hour, which included a few group drills, as well as a competitive 11-on-11 that featured a touchdown strike over the middle from senior quarterback Udgam Goyal. Goyal enjoyed a successful junior season, recording a few career-bests, including completions (170), passing yards (1,922) and touchdowns (14).

Goyal should continue last season’s success this fall – he will have some familiar teammates to target, including classmate Eddy Garcia-Montes, who led the MIT receiving core with 55 receptions for 719 yards and six touchdowns.

Another receiver to watch this fall will be sophomore Keithen Shepard, who finished his initial season with 32 receptions for 365 yards and one touchdown. Shepard should also be seen on special teams again this fall – last season, he fielded 12 punt returns (129 yards) and 11 kick returns (261 yards).


Extra Notes from Tuesday’s Practice 

I had a chance to chat with Andrew DeNucci about the MIT defense, which yielded an average of two scores per game (16.3) last fall.

DeNucci will certainly be the focal point of this year’s unit due to a few graduation losses, including linebacker Matt Nicolai and defensive back Mitch Turley.

But the good news for the Engineers is DeNucci is back after recording multiple career-highs last fall, including total tackles (70.0), tackles for a loss (7.5) and sacks (2.5).

So, what worked for you last fall, Andrew? “I think the biggest thing is we have a great d-line and it starts with those guys up front. The less guys that are blocking the linebackers, the more free we are to make plays.”

DeNucci should certainly be able to make a few plays this fall, thanks to some key returners on the defensive line, including juniors CJ Reilly and Ben Bennington. Additionally, the unit returns juniors Sam Cantrell (linebacker) and AJ Iversen (defensive back).

In addition to some key returners, DeNucci is confident that some of the newcomers and first-years will make an impact, as well.

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A member of the MIT defense attempts to get past the o-line during Tuesday’s morning session. (PHOTO CREDIT: Matt Noonan)

The defense will certainly be counted on with finding ways to slow down their opponents, especially Springfield College and WPI, two teams that will certainly be in the mix with MIT for the top spot in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC). MIT finished 7-3 overall last season, including 5-2 in the NEWMAC, but junior halfback John Robertson believes his team’s current confidence should help the unit contend for its initial NEWMAC regular season crown.

“I think (what) makes all the difference in a season is believing you can actually go out there and win the title, win the conference,” said Robertson, who led the rushing unit with 882 yards on 166 carries for 11 touchdowns.

“There is a confidence (amongst the current group, along with some) excitement, so we know we can do it because we have been that close before, so I think last season really did set the pace and (we’re) looking to see it carry over to this season.”

For MIT to contend for some hardware, they will certainly need Robertson to enjoy another successful season in the backfield. Robertson appeared to be in midseason form on Tuesday, zigzagging through various gaps on both sides of the line, while bursting past defenders in the secondary. Similar to DeNucci, Robertson will also be a player to watch for the Engineers this fall.


We’ll have more coverage of the MIT football team, along with other New England squads as we inch closer to a brand new season. But in the meantime, make sure to stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – you can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel, as well! 

Under The Helmet with WPI Place Kicker & Punter Spencer Herrington

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Spencer Herrington lines-up to attempt a kick last season against Anna Maria College. (PHOTO CREDIT: WPI Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Spencer Herrington has just one goal heading into a brand-new college football season: “just be perfect.”

The WPI senior kicker was pretty close to perfect last fall, connecting on 10 of 12 field goals and 44 of 44 extra points for a career-best 74 points, which resulted in numerous postseason accolades, including NEWMAC Special Teams Athlete of the Year and D3Football.com’s All-East First Team Kicker.

But heading into the Engineers’ upcoming campaign, Herrington, who hails from Clearfield, Pennsylvania, seems confident that last season’s success could translate into even more this year – he certainly would like to cap his four-years with the WPI football program by being perfect in both extra points and field goals.

“I would like to see my stats (at the end of the season read) 15 for 15 or 16 for 16 on field goals and 40 for 40 on extra points,” said Herrington.

Herrington has the right attitude to accomplish his preseason goal, but plans to take it “game-by-game” this fall – he doesn’t seem interested in thinking about his kicks in October or November.

Prior to his team’s preseason practice on Monday, Noontime Sports caught-up with the senior place kicker and punter to chat about his personal goals heading into the upcoming season, as well as some important advice he received as a camper years ago from Robbie Gould, who is currently kicking field goals for the San Francisco 49ers.


What’s the biggest goal for you heading into a brand-new season?

“I think there is a lot of expectations (for me). Obviously last year, I didn’t have a lot of expectations because I had never started before, but I think my biggest goal is to put (any preseason expectations) aside and take it game-by-game.”

What helped you enjoy a successful season last year?

“I think it was confidence. I know for me, as long as I go out there with the mentality that I am going to make the field goal or extra point or I am going to punt well – it usually happens, but like for me it is all about keeping my form. I do watch some of my film to make sure some of my mechanics are the same every time, but honestly it is just like confidence. This summer I worked on (improving) my power by lifting.”

You connected on 10 of 12 field goals last fall. Do you ever think about those two kicks that missed?

“Yeah, both (attempts that missed) hit off the upright, so it’s kind of frustrating that I missed them by inches, but I still need to make those. Obviously, you want to get every kick back, but you can’t think about them too long (because) you have to move onto the next (kick) and make it.”

What was the biggest kick you made last year?

“I would say the field goal I made against MIT last year, which helped us win by three points.”

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The MIT-WPI football games seem to come down to field goals or have been decided by three points. And one of those games happened to be the 2016 overtime win over MIT. 

“Yeah, when Blaine Bursey made that (19-yard-field goal in overtime) to beat MIT, I was there for it. I thought it was cool, but it is kind of funny (how the games have been decided by three points the past few years). Last year it didn’t come down to me. There wasn’t that much pressure (on me) because I kicked a field goal (before they came back). I don’t think I really had too many pressure kicks (last fall).”

Do you enjoy being a part the MIT-WPI rivalry?

“I think MIT and RPI – well, I guess there is something a little bit more with RPI because of the (transit trophy), but all three schools’ mascots are the Engineers, so there is a little bit of a rivalry there (with MIT, as well). But I think everybody goes into every game with the same mentality, but maybe just a little bit more juice with those games.”

Do you think special teams gets overlooked when offenses or defenses makes big plays?

“(Special teams) is a part of the game that needs to be there because games are won through special teams. Whether it is a mistake on special teams or whether it is winning a game with special teams, games can be won or lost through special teams, but I think (the kicking game) can be overlooked by fans. It is certainly not overlooked by coaches or players because they understand how much special teams means to winning games and being competitive in games.”

Do you have an all-time favorite kicker? If so, who?

“Robbie Gould, who is currently with the San Francisco 49ers. He’s been in the league a longtime and he is so consistent. When he played for the Chicago Bears, I went to his camp and met him, and he is just so consistent and may not have the biggest leg – I don’t have the biggest leg either. He is someone that I try to base my game off of and that is what the coaches are looking for, which is me making field goals.”

When you went to Robbie Gould’s camp, what advice did he give you as a young kicker?

“I asked him how he has stayed in the league so long and he said the biggest thing for him is that he doesn’t kick that often during practices. He said that he kicks roughly 10 to 20 balls each day and then does an ice bath followed by lots of resting and recovery. He (also) said that as long as he is doing (this routine) then he will be fine.”


Stay connected with our Noontime Sports’ Football coverage by following @Noontime_FB on Twitter! 

D3 Football: MIT Unveils 2018 Schedule

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Udgam Goyal will look to quarterback the Engineers to their first NEWMAC title this fall. (PHOTO CREDIT: MIT Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

It was announced just a short time ago the MIT football schedule for the 2018 season.

The Engineers, who concluded their 2017 campaign 7-3 overall, will kick-off their new season on Friday, August 31st when they host Becker College at 7 p.m. before traveling to Curry College one week later for a 7 p.m. kick-off on Friday, September 7th.

MIT topped Becker last season, but fell to Curry at home by a score of 15-7. The Engineers will play their final non-conference game the following Saturday – that would be September, 15th, to be exact – when they visit Endicott College for a 1 p.m. start.

One week later, the Engineers will hop into New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play, beginning with back-to-back home dates against Catholic University and Merchant Marine. The Engineers scored wins over both squads last season – both games occurred on the road.

MIT will compete in just a trio of games in October before closing out their regular season slate with a pair of early November tilts against Norwich University and Springfield College. The game against Springfield will be the team’s ‘Senior Day.’

The Engineers are slated to compete against Coast Guard AcademyMaine Maritime and WPI in October.

This season will mark a new era for the Engineers as they will be led by first-year coach Brian Bubna. Bubna is entering his ninth season with the program – he was previously the squad’s defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator.

Who will we be watching this season on MIT’s Football? 

  • Udgam Goyal (QB): Goyal enjoyed one of his better seasons under center last fall, completing 63 percent of his passes for 1,922 yards. He tossed 14 touchdowns, while rushing for a career-best 337 yards on 58 carries for five scores.
  • John Roberts (RB): The soon-to-be junior led the Engineers’ rushing attack with 882 yards on 166 carries for 11 touchdowns.
  • Andrew DeNucci (LB): DeNucci was always on our radar last fall, finishings econd on the team in total tackles (70.0). He registered 7.5 tackles for a loss of 25 yards and 2.5 sacks for a loss of 10 yards. He recorded 37 solo tackles, while assisting on 36 stops.

Stay connected with Noontime Sports Football on Twitter: @Noontime_FB – we will have various updates on the Twitter handle on college, high school and professional football as we get closer to a brand new season. 

Football SNAPSHOTS from MIT-WPI

By NoontimeSports.com 

Last season, WPI needed a Blaine Bursey field goal to defeat MIT at home.

Last night, the Engineers of WPI needed Bursey’s leg again as he booted 19-yard game-winning overtime field goal to lift his squad to an exciting (yet, dramatic) 37-34 overtime win.

We will have more on this game – and other New England games – later, but for now enjoy a few ‘snapshots’ from last night’s game, which were taken by Noontime Sports’ Matt Noonan.

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