Nov. 13, 2013
University of Massachusetts football head coach Charley Molnar spoke with members of the media during the weekly MAC Teleconference on Monday morning. Molnar discussed the advantage of having a second bye week this season, the health of A.J. Doyle and Rob Blanchflower and how preparations are going for the Akron game.
Listen To Coach Molnar's MAC Media Call
On taking advantage of the bye week and preparing for Akron:
Our emphasis over the bye week was pretty simple. Number one was to just get back to basics. We worked on the fundamentals of the game with each position over the first several days. Number two was to get healthy and try to get as many guys as we can back into the line up going into the final stretch of the season. We really made an emphasis to win these last three games for our seniors and our great supporters, so we really want to play our best football now as we hit this home stretch. I think the guys were in a great place and worked hard and I think we're going to be ready to roll for these last three weeks.
On the status of AJ Doyle and Rob Blanchflower:
I would have to put both of those guys as probable, but I can't say that for sure right now. We'll have to watch them today and tomorrow and make sure that they're back to 100% health so they go out there and play.
On having a bye week so late in the season (to heal up those bumps and bruises):
On the memories and emotions of beating Akron last year, and earning 1st win:
The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for us. We had severely thinned the ranks. Most of the injuries aren't season-ending; they are just the normal accumulation of bumps, bruises, and sprains that happen to football players playing a tough game. Most of those injuries should be healed enough so that we can have a good week of practice and put a competitive team on the field Saturday afternoon.
Going into that game, I knew that Akron was in the same position we were in. We were both looking for our first win. We were both hungry and I thought that both teams played hard. Some of the emotions for me weren't about my first win as a head coach - that sunk in later on in the locker room - but really about how close the game was, as it was a nail-biter right until the very end of the game. It's a lot of tension on the sideline and then a real sense of relief. The house that I lived in for 11 years was about three or four miles from the stadium and I had a lot of friends and supporters at the game, so it was a great moment for me personally.
On Akron moving on from being the team that other teams can circle on the calendar as a win:
We've never been in that position where we can circle a team our calendar and say "Yep, that's a win". Every game is hard fought for us. They are certainly a better football team now. I like their quarterback a lot. He throws a great ball, he's extremely confidant, he's strong-armed and accurate, and the running back is dynamic. Offensively, they've got some pieces they didn't have a year ago. Defensively, they've got two big, strong guys inside, some more experience in the back end, and some pretty good linebackers. They're like us, they're just a better football team 365 days later, so we'll see what kind of progress we've made and what kind of progress they've made when we meet on Saturday.
On what percent health a quarterback can be at their best and deciding who to use:
You never know what a man can play through until you put him out there in the arena. The number one thing I would say for a quarterback who has been bumped and bruised is this: Can he protect himself? If he doesn't have the mobility to avoid hits or if he can't get out of the way then he is going to get hit no matter what. You can hand the ball off every play and the guy is going to get hit occasionally. If he can't protect himself, then he can't be out there on the field. Number two is: can he operate within the confines of our offense? Can he do what we ask our quarterbacks to do on a week-to-week basis? We'll test him A.J. over the next two practices to see if he's up to it. If not, we've got Mike whose ready to go, so either way, we'll have a quarterback out there.
On the bye week being valuable for Mike Wegzyn in terms of his continued development:
It was valuable for Mike who really had two weeks of being the No. 1 quarterback again - the Northern Illinois week and the bye week. He received a lot of work over the last two weeks. He's ready to go regardless if he's the starter or called upon to come off the bench. Either way, I feel that he is well prepared.
On how A.J. Doyle will play after being out due to injury:
Like every coach, I'm really hoping to have a better assessment over the next few days of practice. I don't want to just find out on Saturday that he's ready or not ready. We'll have to use our judgement after watching him over the next few days to see how he moves around and to see how he can perform.
On any changes to practice to prepare Doyle for Saturday:
Those things naturally occur in practice when we go against our defense. We have a blitz period where guys will come free forcing the quarterback to move. That's all part of the game and that will be a good visual to see how A.J. can handle movement inside and outside of the pocket.