Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass looks for better results in Year 2 as member of the FBS

Daily Collegian/Maria Uminski

The 2013 season for the Massachusetts football team got off to a rocky start on Saturday, but coach Charley Molnar has high hopes that this edition of the Minutemen will be an improved football team from last year’s 1-11 squad.

That doesn’t mean that he has a specific goal in mind when it comes to how many games his team should win in its second year in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Mid-American Conference, however.

“I haven’t ever spoken in terms of wins and losses with the coaches, with the team or with the public,” he said. “I don’t want to set a goal that’s too high because it sounds good and I certainly don’t want to set a goal that’s too low.

“But I expect to see not only development internally, but I also expect externally that you people watching the games, follow us on a weekly basis, will see an improved football team and say they may or may not be ready to win big in 2013, but you can see that we’ll be a competitive team in the near future.”

His team struggled to stay with No. 23 Wisconsin on Saturday and started off its season with the same sour taste that it did in 2012 when it was shutout by Connecticut in the opener.

But Molnar sees an improved team from a year ago.

“(Last year felt) different because I knew we had a long ways to go,” Molnar said. “I thought that maybe some of the guys from our football team would just step up and be able to carry the day. Once we got through the first game when I saw that wasn’t going to be the case, I tempered my enthusiasm to understand where we’re at as a football team developmentally and we were really on the ground floor.

“We’ve taken a step up. I can’t tell you if we’re on the second floor or the third floor yet. Let us play a couple of games. But we are definitely better than we were a year ago.”

Molnar also has the luxury of an experienced No. 1 quarterback that he can turn to in redshirt sophomore Mike Wegzyn. That didn’t look like it would be the case at the end of last season when backup sophomore quarterback A.J. Doyle got the start against Central Michigan, but Wegzyn outdueled him in the offseason for the starting job again.

Wegzyn was missing two of his top targets against the Badgers in junior running back Jordan Broadnax and redshirt senior tight end Rob Blanchflower due to injury. Redshirt freshman Stacey Bedell and graduate student Ricardo Miller got the start at running back and tight end respectively against Wisconsin in their absence.

But perhaps one of the biggest areas of concern for the UMass offense is the offensive line, which suffered multiple injuries last season. That meant that a lot of freshmen had to play and try to protect Wegzyn. Redshirt senior Anthony Dima anchors the line, but questions remain around him.
Molnar, however, thinks that the line is “the best since he’s been here.”

On the other side of the ball, Molnar believed that his defense was outperforming the offense when he spoke at media day in August, which can be attributed to the health of the players.

“I would say right now that the defense remains ahead of the offense,” Molnar said. “They’ve been very fortunate to be relatively injury free. We’ve had some guys out, but for the most part every guy on defense has managed to get back into the mix of things.”

The defense struggled during the game against the Badgers, though, especially against the run. The defense allowed Wisconsin to run for a total of 393 yards and three different running backs to eclipse the 100-yard mark. They were able to hold the Badgers to 17 points in the first half, but things started to unravel in the second half.

This year’s defense is led by the likes of redshirt senior Kevin Byrne on the defensive line, sophomore Kassan Messiah at linebacker and redshirt sophomore Randall Jette at cornerback.
While the Minutemen have those key players back, they will be without Perry McIntyre, who led the UMass defense at linebacker, Hafis Williams and Chaz Thompson on the defensive line and Darren Thellen at defensive back.

But while the team is built for a more successful run than last season, the next step for these Minutemen is to turn that into wins.

Cameron McDonough can be reached at cameronm@ umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Cam_McDonough.

 

 

Leave A Comment