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January 3, 2018

UMass quarterback position in question as battle with CMU looms

Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian

The last time the Massachusetts football team took on Central Michigan, coach Charley Molnar threw a curveball the day after Thanksgiving last year.

Mike Wegzyn started at quarterback in each of the Minutemen’s 11 games that season, but with the team about to finish with one win on the season, Molnar turned to backup A.J. Doyle to lead the offense against the Chippewas.

Although UMass would lose the game 42-21, Doyle played well in his first start at quarterback, completing 30-of-45 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Doyle did have one vice in that game and it was his tendency to throw for interceptions, as he threw for three in the game to muddy his numbers.

Fast forward almost a full year and the quarterback position is still seemingly up for grabs in Amherst.

Wegzyn opened the year as the starting QB, but after losses to Wisconsin and Maine, Doyle replaced him. Since replacing Wegzyn, Doyle’s received the majority of the starts, but injuries have worked against him and Wegzyn has received more playing time as of late. Wegzyn went in against Akron and led his team down the field for its only touchdown of the game after Doyle limped off the field.

With the recent injury issues for Doyle, the path forward for UMass (1-9, 1-5 Mid-American Conference) at quarterback is up in the air once again.

“The quarterback situation is unresolved at this moment,” Molnar said during his weekly MAC teleconference on Monday. “We’ll have to see when we get back on the practice field. I’m sure it won’t be clear until mid-week exactly what direction we’re going to go.”

Doyle wasn’t the only one who had a solid offensive performance in last year’s season-ending loss to Central Michigan.
Chippewas (4-6, 3-3 MAC) running back Zurlon Tipton ran for 185 yards and four touchdowns, as he singlehandedly outscored UMass on the afternoon.

“We came away from that game feeling like Zurlon Tipton was the best running back in the Mid-American Conference,” Molnar said during his teleconference. “He had a career day against us.”
Tipton has only played in four games this season due to a broken ankle, but he’s been listed at No. 1 on Central

Michigan’s depth chart at running back this weekend after playing in his second straight game against Western Michigan last weekend.

He was back to his old self in that game, running for 114 yards and two touchdowns, showing signs that he’s regained his form just in time for a potential encore against a Minuteman defense that has been shaky against the run at times this year. However, UMass has improved since giving up over 300 yards to Wisconsin to open up the season, but teams are still averaging 230.4 yards per game on the ground against the Minutemen this year.

Other weapons for the Chippewas on offense include quarterback Cooper Rush, who is averaging 225.1 yards per game and has thrown for 13 touchdowns in nine games this year and wide receiver Titus Davis, who Molar also praised.

“They’ve also got Titus Davis who is arguably one of the best wide receivers in the Mid-American Conference,” he said during his teleconference. “So our defense is going to have their work cut out.”

Although the defense might have its hands full with the CMU offense, it is coming off of a strong performance against Akron, in which it caused three consecutive turnovers in the first quarter while only allowing 14 points.

“One of the takeaways from the Akron game was that our defense did a great job at bouncing back,” Molnar said. “The last time we were on the field, we didn’t perform up to our standards. This game, I thought our defense played very well for most of the game and outstanding at other parts. The turnovers that we created were outstanding. “Our guys played hard and they played together.”

UMass will try to duplicate that defensive intensity this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Mount Pleasant, Mich., and the game can be seen on ESPN3.com.

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

 

Comments
One Response to “UMass quarterback position in question as battle with CMU looms”
  1. Rocco55 says:

    Molnar is a moron. Worst coach in College Football by far. he has made stupid call after stupid call. Chief among them is not starting Wegzyn. It’s painfully obvious that he is the better qb. But the real problem is Molnar. he has got to go. That 2 point decision was the worst I have ever seen. He’s cost them 2 or 3 games just by coaching alone.

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