BOSTON (CBS) –  The UMass Minutemen are 0-8 on the season following their 49-7 loss to Vanderbilt last weekend, and things do not get any easier with a trip to Northern Illinois on the docket for this week.

Head coach Charley Molnar joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Marc Bertrand for their weekly chat, and said last week’s loss at Gillette got out of hand right before the half. The Minutemen expected to go into the locker room down 7-0 to the Vandy, but a touchdown followed by a special teams fumble by UMass let the Commodores tack on another 14 points before the half.

“From there I think the wheels starting to come off a little bit. Instead of going into the half with a 7-0 football game, it was 21-0. We came back out and they got a couple of scores, we had a couple turnovers, and I think our defense lost a little bit of their energy,” said Molnar. “They picked it back up in the fourth quarter. They were put in some bad positions; I thought they played well and made it a football game. They kept the offense in the game for the most part in the first half, but unfortunately we couldn’t put all three phases together in that game.”

While UMass went on to lose again, Molnar saw some positives out of his offense.

“I think they are really starting to get it,” he said. “It comes down to so many times just one guy; one guy on the offensive line, a running back missing his pickup, a receiver not finishing his block properly. They look at it, and say ‘if this guy just finishes his block, instead of being a 10-yard gain this could be a 40-yard gain or a touchdown.’ It’s just getting everyone to totally buy into going as hard as they can every play and using fundamentals. One without the other is not winning football.”

At one point in the second half, the Minutemen were made mostly of freshmen, and Molnar was very impressed with what they were able to do against a team like Vanderbilt.

“Our last two series on defense , I believe one was a turnover and one was a three-and-out, we had seven freshman on the field,” said Molnar. “I know Vanderbilt didn’t have their top guys out there, but they sure didn’t have mostly freshmen.”

“I’m really happy with the development with our defensive freshman,” he said, noting defensive back Khary Bailey-Smith who recovered two fumbles, caused another and broke up a pass in just nine plays on the field. “We have a long list of guys we’re optimistic about their future. I couldn’t be happier about the play of the freshman.”

Listen in as Molnar breaks down this weekend’s opponent, the 8-1 Northern Illinois Huskies who lead the MAC with a 5-0 record in the conference.


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