Sept. 24, 2013
UMass football head coach Charley Molnar spoke with members of the media on Monday morning during the MAC Coaches Media Teleconference following Week Four of the season. Molnar recapped the Vanderbilt game, spoke about the benefits of having a bye week, and discussed the return of captain Rob Blanchflower.
Recapping last Saturday's game vs. Vanderbilt:
Going back to the Vanderbilt game, I thought our team played really hard on all three phases of the game. Did we play perfect football? Absolutely not, but we did show improvement in a number of areas. For us, holding Vandy to 166 yards rushing is pedestrian, but is an improvement in the way we have been playing our rush defense. We had ourselves a 10-7 football game at the beginning of the fourth quarter. You really couldn't have asked for a better scenario for us at this stage of our development. We really battled toe-to-toe with them for quite a while, but we just couldn't close the deal out. They had a long drive and a big pass that took a lot of steam out of our sails and then they had another long drive to finish the game off. I was proud of the way our team competed and they believed they could win right to the end of the game and that is a real improvement for us.
On the advantages of having a bye this week:
On the play of the defensive backs:
It couldn't have come at a better time. Like every football team in America, we have had our assortment of bumps and bruises. Fortunately for us, most of the guys that participated on Saturday will be back for the next game. A key part of our defense, Trey Seals, was out vs. Vanderbilt and he will be back and definitely the bye will aid in his recovery. As we enter the MAC phase of our schedule, I think the bye really comes at a good time for us.
The back end of our defense has been playing fairly well. I know we have given up some big plays, so you might want to argue with me. Overall, these guys play hard down after down and are a pretty good pass defense. Holding Jordan Matthews to under 100 yards is an accomplishment. It was really disappointing at the beginning of the fourth quarter as I alluded to, that they had the 80 yard drive. Then, he had that phenomenal catch and run and that was a real back breaker for us.
On the injury of Joe Colton last Saturday:
He is a great leader and does a great job with the checks. He is a force against the run and also has a knack for the ball when it's in the air, either by playing the ball or the receiver. We are going to miss him if he doesn't come back for this next game, but I really believe that it's time for Khary Bailey-Smith to continue to step up his game. It also gives a chance for Antoine Tharpe to get a little bit more work back there too.
On goals for the bye week:
The next couple of days, we are really going to go back to fundamentals as if it were the first couple days of summer camp. (We will) just touch upon the basic things that separate good football players from great ones and not so great ones from the good ones. We will go back to footwork, eye discipline, hand placement, and all of those things. We'll also give our young guys that don't play as much some work to get them ready in case we need them during this critical second part of the season.
On who stood out this past weekend vs. Vanderbilt:
When you go back and watch the video, on defense, I was really impressed with the way that Kevin Byrne and Galen Clemons played; those two guys really played hard and made a lot of plays. I thought they had great motors. Galen didn't have as many tackles as Kevin, who I believe had nine. I don't know if that's a career-high, but it certainly has to be close. Both of those guys were forces on the inside on defense.
On the return of Tight End Rob Blanchflower and how it benefits a young quarterback:
Rob is good for any quarterback. He has really strong hands, he's a fierce competitor, and is extremely tough. His blocking, even though he really hasn't blocked since the last game of last year in any real physical sense, was like he went through all of summer camp. He tired out at times and sometimes his performance would drop off, or we would have to take him out of the game, but all in all, his leadership, physical presence, and toughness, his work to, all of those things, you could feel it out on the field and on the sidelines. He really made a difference for our football team.