Sept. 16, 2013
UMass football head coach Charley Molnar spoke with media members on Monday morning during the MAC Coaches Media Teleconference following Week Three of the season. Molnar recapped the Kansas State game and previewed the upcoming meeting with Vanderbilt at Gillette Stadium.
Recapping the Kansas State game:
I thought our team played hard. We didn't always play smart. We're getting closer on both sides of the ball and in our kicking game. We're still making some errors; some of it is due to youth and some of it is due to the environment, the pressure, the intensity, or whatever the cause may be. I feel good about our team coming off the field; about as good as you could after a loss that looks like it was by a wide margin. We had played the team in certain areas closer than we have played some of the top teams that we've played in the past. All in all, I think we have a sense of accountability with our players that maybe didn't exist before. They realize that their particular performance has a direct bearing on any given play and if they had done their job better, perhaps the outcome of the play would have been better and made for a better night for the Minutemen.
On positives taken away from the Kansas State game and performance of A.J. Doyle:
First, I will start with the positives. Number one, defensively in the first quarter, the only points that Kansas State scored were on a pick-six. Defensively, we shut them out in the first quarter. The second quarter, we had a bad turn there and let up 21 points. When we played the third quarter, the defense let up seven points and in the fourth quarter, let up three points. One bad quarter of football defensively and three pretty darn good ones against a very potent offensive attack. Offensively, we had more first downs than we have had in the past. We had 17 first downs with pretty good balance with seven rushing (first downs) and ten by passing. We threw the ball better from an efficiency standpoint. I believe A.J. was 21-for-31, but still had two interceptions. Not both of those were on A.J. though. Things happen on the field that were beyond his control. Obviously at the end of the day, the interceptions go against him, but there were other people involved in those. I feel like we took a step forward at the quarterback position and, all in all, our team is going to be in a good place going forward.
On keeping up the morale of the team with inconsistent results and the status of tight end Rob Blanchflower:
As far as keeping up the morale, that has not been an issue. Our guys know where they are at and our guys want to win each and every time they step out there on the field. The team is hungry for a win and they aren't just playing out the string. They are going out there to win. They were really disappointed getting on that plane Saturday night and I'm convinced they are going to come out again and do everything they can to win against Vanderbilt. As far as Rob Blanchflower
, we'll have more information as the week goes on. Each and every week, we go in with the idea that "Blanch" is going to play, until proven otherwise.
On the challenges that Vanderbilt presents:
Number one, they have a wide receiver that at this point is the best we have seen in Jordan Matthews. He is a very polished route runner with great speed. They move him all over the place and he is the guy they try to throw the ball to on big downs. Their quarterback (Austyn Carta-Samuels) is competitive. He can make plays with his feet as well as with his arm. He is a pretty polished passer and an all-around good quarterback. They play a bunch of running backs and they are all good and very capable. Defensively, they have a corner that looks like a high draft pick, so we will certainly have our hands full with him. They have an excellent safety and a big, strong defensive line. It's just what you expect playing a very good BCS team; we have our work cut out for us.
On how A.J. Doyle and Stacey Bedell came to UMass:
Quickly with A.J., he was a guy who came to camp when I was at Notre Dame. I looked at him and watched him work and I thought he was a 1-A quarterback. He just wasn't the guy we were looking for at the time where I was. Certainly, it was a name that resonated with me. When I got to UMass, he was the first recruit that I called. He was committed to another school in the ACC as a defensive player. We were able to get A.J. to stay at home in Massachusetts and play quarterback. He played about 25% of our snaps last year and as a true freshman and started the last game. He made progress through the year, but had an injury that hampered him through spring ball and the summer. Only over the last several weeks has he been able to hit his stride. He was able to get in shape and throw the football better. The best football for A.J. is in his future.
As far as Stacey, he was a guy that was on our radar as he was Long Island Player of the Year. We were recruiting him and he had a wide mix of schools that were after him. He had an offer from an ACC school and they wanted him to play defense also. We wanted him to play running back and at the end of the day, he decided to come to UMass. I don't think he has ever regretted it and he seems to love it here. We have always liked Stacey. He is very quick, has above average speed, and has developed a nice set of hands on him. Both of these guys are great kids off the field, good students, and all around very good teammates.