Sixteen years after leading the UMass football team to a division I-AA national championship Mark Whipple is back at the helm in Amherst.

He’s taking over a program that’s coming off a pair of 1-11 seasons and for Whipple, the message is simple.

“Just improve, the big thing is just improve daily, and you can’t improve unless you’re working, our guys are workers and when your name’s called, you’ve got to step up and that’s what a lot of the guys have done. We’re a work in progress, but today, this morning was a good start,” he said.

The UMass Minutemen held their first practice of the year Wednesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

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