BOSTON (CBS) – The UMass Minutemen finished up their first FBS season at 1-11, dropping their final game of the year 42-21 to Central Michigan on Friday.
First-year head coach Charley Molnar is not happy about his team’s record, but that hasn’t brought down the enthusiasm he had when he took over last December. In fact, his enthusiasm has grown despite the tough season.
“It has grown because I can see where we’re going. It’s so clear now,” Molnar told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Marc Bertrand in their weekly chat on Monday. “We’ve got such great potential — not just on our team now, but some really good football players have committed to the University of Massachusetts.
“I see the support we have internally; I see where we’re going, I see how the guys work every day in practice, the discipline that we have,” he continued. “You can really start to see the foundation going in now … you can really see that this is the start of something special.”
There will be no rest for UMass in terms of preparing for 2013. Some of Molnar’s staff is already out on recruiting trips, and Molnar himself leaves for one on Tuesday.
“We’ve already begun the process. Our guys were already in the weight room this morning; everyone was there and working hard, just ready to move forward. There is no time to waste for the 2013 season,” he said. “We’ll spend a lot of the time over the next several months analyzing the past season. We’ll crunch the numbers every which way you can, watch the video every which way you can. … At the end of the day, it’s about bringing our players to the next level – on and off the football field.”
One position that the Minutemen bounced around at was quarterback. A.J. Doyle got his first career start on Friday and responded well, going 30-for-45 for 253 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
“I would give A.J. a solid ‘B,’” Molnar said of his freshman QB. “He was above average in his performance; he played hard, made some errors – a couple of those throws he would like to take back and I’d like him to take back – but all in all, I thought he had good command on the offense, handled the pressure very well, and played with a lot of poise.”
Could this lead to a bit of a quarterback controversy in 2013 between Doyle and Mike Wegzyn, who will both be sophomores?
“I told both of these guys during summer camp to get used to the competition, because they’ll be competing the next four years. I think A.J. certainly has closed the gap on Mike Wegzyn. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch these two battle it out. I think competition brings out the best in every football player. This competition is good for both of them.”
One area Molnar would like to see improvement on is their lines — both offensive and defensive.
“We just have to be better up front. Offensively we need to be able to run the ball when necessary. … Defensively there were times when we just had to stop our opponent, and we weren’t capable in the trenches of matching up in those critical junctures of the game,” he said. “Again, special attention to the needs of our offensive and defensive lines are critical as we move forward into the 2013 season.”
What surprised Molnar most in his first year on the sidelines as a head coach? And what does he think of Notre Dame — where he served as offensive coordinator for two years before taking the UMass job — in the BCS title game, likely against Alabama? Find out in his weekly chat with Marc “The Beetle” Bertrand!