Amherst, MA (WGGB) — Approaching two weeks into training camp, UMass Football held their annual Media Day, Wednesday in Amherst. McGuirk Alumni Stadium, no longer the Game Day home of the Minutemen, still played host for team pictures, positional pictures, interviews of individual players and coaches, and the unveiling of new uniforms and helmets.
New head coach Charley Molnar discussed the upcoming season, and the expectations that exist for the program, as UMass makes the jump from FCS to FBS-level football. He noted that their is a “talent gap” between the Minutemen and their 2012 competition. He added, however, that this season’s focus is about setting a groundwork upon which the program can build in the coming years.
“I want to lay down a foundation for our football program,” Molnar said. “I use the metaphor like this — living here in New England, there’s so many houses that were built in the 1600s. And why are these houses still standing today? Because they have great foundations. So they’re able to withstand the test of time, they’re able to weather the storm. That’s the same kind of football program we want to build.
“So we’re putting our foundation down first. At the end of the year, if the foundation is solid, I’m going to feel really, really good, and so will our staff.”
Molnar also addressed the starting quarterback situation for the Minutemen. In 2011, Kellen Pagel and Brandon Hill split the majority of time at QB, but this year, neither of them are expected to start. Instead, Redshirt Freshman Mike Wegzyn was tabbed by Molnar as the presumptive favorite to start at UConn on August 30th.
“Mike Wegzyn is the clear cut number one,” Molnar said of the Knoxville, Tennesee native. “That doesn’t mean he will start the opener. He’s got great competition from AJ Doyle. But AJ Doyle is a true freshman. He’s only been on campus here a couple of weeks.” But returning to Wegzyn, Molnar added, “Just the way he handles the offense, day-in-and-day-out, his passing efficiency, his checks, his poise — all of that stuff, Mike is clearly ahead of AJ. Not that AJ doesn’t have the talent, he just doesn’t have all the intangibles fully honed yet, ready to go out there on the field against big-time competition.”
UMass has fifteen days left before the season opener at UConn, and Molnar seems confident that he has things pointed in the right direction.
“We’re making progress as a football team,” Molnar said. “Are we where we need to be? Absolutely not. We have a long way to go. I think we have enough time to get there, if we work diligently, the guys stay pay attention, learn their lessons, we stay healthy, and get a little luck, I think we’ll be ready by the first football game.”