Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Wegzyn has career game in loss to Ohio

Maria Uminski/Collegian

FOXBORO – The blueprint for success for the Massachusetts football team now seems all so clear after its 37-34 loss to Ohio.

Sure, running back Michael Cox rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns last week against Miami (Ohio) in what many considered the Minutemen’s best performance of the season. But coach Charley Molnar never wanted to rely on an overpowering run game to win games when he took over. Known for coaching some of the most potent passing offenses in the country during his time as an offensive coordinator at several different schools, it was all about the air attack.

For the first four games of this season, however, the passing offense was merely nonexistent. The numbers were improving week-by-week, redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Wegzyn was gaining confidence with each snap, but the passing totals that Molnar wanted to see just weren’t there.

That all changed on Saturday afternoon.

After not scoring a single passing touchdown throughout their first four games, Wegzyn and the Minuteman offense put that to bed with a bang against the Bobcats. Wegzyn, in his fifth career start, finished the day 27-for-51 with 373 yards and four touchdowns in a losing effort, leading the offense to 34 points, the most scored by a team against Ohio in a game this season.

Molnar said he’s watched Wegzyn run an offense this season in which he’s become less and less worried of the way he’s playing.

“The first several games, each and every snap, I couldn’t even tell you what was going on up front. All I did was watch Wegzyn,” Molnar said. “And now actually, I can take my eyes off Mike and put them elsewhere.”

Wegzyn’s progress this season may have been able to be summed up in one play on Saturday.

Trailing 20-17 early in the third quarter, Wegzyn was flushed out of the pocket by the Bobcats pass rush. With defenders almost in reach, he saw wide receiver Deion Walker near the sidelines and fired over a difficult throw while rolling to his right. The ball was sailing high, but Walker leaped and made an acrobatic catch, which was good for a first down, extending a drive that ultimately ended in a UMass touchdown.

Molnar said it was a long time coming for Wegzyn to be able to make a play like that.

“He wouldn’t have made it three weeks ago,” Molnar said. “Couldn’t make it in practice, wouldn’t have thought of doing it. And all of a sudden, the light just came on. … Believe me, we’ve all been in his ear very loudly about doing those things. And all of a sudden, he’s doing it successfully.”

Wegzyn, while he may have needed to make strides in practice and in games by himself in order to make those kinds of plays, said it wouldn’t have been possible without building trust and confidence in his teammates on the other end.

“It just comes with being more comfortable with the guys out there,” Wegzyn said. “Because I know if I put the ball in the air that one of these guys is going to go up and get it. I think we have a lot of faith in each other and a lot of camaraderie right now as an offense.”

It’s quite a step considering that about one month ago, Wegzyn had never taken a college snap, didn’t have much chemistry with his teammates and was still just getting used to Molnar’s complex offensive scheme.

But week-by-week, Wegzyn is slowly starting to figure things out. And it’s showing.

“He’s playing better,” Molnar said. “He’s not making the same mistakes. He’s learning from his errors, and that’s making him better. If we could just hurry up and get through the process and go through all of the errors and get them out of the way so he can learn from them, he’ll be better and we’ll be better.”

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @steve_hewitt.

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