BOSTON (CBS) – Each week during the season, UMass head football coach Charley Molnar will chat with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Marc Bertrand about their upcoming matchup and the state of the team.
Thursday night, the Minutemen will make their Football Bowl Subdivision (better known as the FBS) debut when they take on the UConn Huskies at Rentschler Field in Hartford. Molnar, who is in his first head coaching job, said it’s been a new adventure every day, but isn’t feeling any pressure as both himself and UMass are set to start a new chapter in their football careers.
“Pressure going into the first game? No, just excitement; just real, true excitement,” said Molnar, who was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Notre Dame last season. “Myself, the staff, the players, people around the program, we’re real anxious to get out on the field and see what we’re all about.”
Bertrand Talks With Charley Molnar:
Going against UConn in their first FBS game will be no easy task for the Minutemen, but Molnar is confident his team can handle the challenge against the Huskies.
“They’re a bigger football team than us. They’re proven to have a very, very physical defense and a power running game. I don’t know if our players can simulate that in practice; we’re not as big as they are, or quite as strong as they are at this moment in time. But we’ve done our best at trying to get our team ready by being very physical through spring ball and summer camp. So at the end of the day I’ll feel like we’ve done everything to get ourselves ready,” he said.
Getting outworked is not an option for this team as long as Molnar is calling the plays.
“This is what I’ve seen, and it wasn’t necessarily here the day I showed up and the day we went out there and practiced the first day in spring ball. Each and every day our team becomes tougher and tougher, and that attribute alone is going to help carry the day in a lot of football games over time,” he said. “We’ll never quit. We have a team that is very resilient, and a team that looks like it’s going to be able to weather the storm. If we have bad moments in a game, we’re going to fight through it and try to get momentum back on our side.
UMass joins Boston College and UConn as the only FBS teams in the New England area, and he would love to start a rivalry with both schools.
“I’d love to play UConn on a yearly basis, home-and-home, and I’d love to play BC on a yearly basis, home-and-home. I think that’s the way it should be,” said Molnar. “I’m very, very confident that over time, when people see we deserve our seat at the table, there will be tremendous pressure for both of those schools to want to play the University of Massachusetts.”
With their jump to the FBS, UMass will play its home games at Gillette Stadium. Their first game at Gillette comes Sept. 8, when they host Indiana.
But Molnar and his Minutemen aren’t thinking about taking the field at Gillette just yet.
“Since the spring, we haven’t talked about the home opener at Gillette,” he said. “In our business, it’s day-to-day. You just try to keep the focus each day as it comes along, each play as it comes along. To think about Indiana would be really, really premature.”
“We have a lot of business to take care of between now and Thursday night,” said the coach. “Come early Friday morning, we’ll start thinking about Indiana.”