It’s clear that Kellen Pagel is hurt, but the unanswered question is: How bad? Coach Molnar has maintained that Pagel is his starting quarterback, but with kickoff quickly approaching, Mike Wegzyn and A.J. Doyle are the only two signal-callers to take significant snaps thus far. Matt Vautour reported that Pagel may practice today, but one has to wonder how involved he will be. Today is the first day of pads, and Pagel has been handled with kid gloves so far. Even if he does get reps, I highly doubt he will go full speed. That leads to the question of the month: Will Pagel be healthy enough/know enough of the offense to take snaps against UConn, or is it going to be Wegzyn?
Thus far is seems like we’re looking at running back by committee. Mike Cox and Jordan Broadnax have both been praised by Molnar during the first few days of practice. Just yesterday, Molnar started talking a little bit about Chris Burns, a redshirt senior who transferred from Pitt and has yet to make a real impact for the Minutemen. Part of me thinks that Cox will be the headliner once the dust settles. He has the pedigree, the speed, and, quite honestly, the look. However, for the moment, it looks like a few guys could share the ball. In a pass-first offense, that might not be a bad thing.
If you haven’t heard Molar talk about Marken Michel yet, you havent been listening. Every practice, Michel seems to get slipped in as a highlighted player. On Monday, Molnar said he is a “solid player” and seems to like his attitude and work ethic. Molnar told Matt Vautour that freshmen Tajae Sharpe and Dalvin Battle are showing promise as well. When Molnar spoke to the UMass Club in Boston, he mentioned that several freshmen would have to step up right away and play. By virtue of the depth chart, wide receiver is a position of immediate need, and Sharpe and Battle seem to be making an early push for playing time. I haven’t heard much about Notre Dame transfer Deion Walker, who many figured would make an impact out of the gates. That doesn’t mean he’s not producing, but I’m still listening for his name.
Molnar typically speaks about the defense as a unit and doesn’t single out too many athletes besides the usual suspects (See: Darren Thellen, Perry McIntyre). However, a new name to arise has been Randall Jette, a defensive back from Martha’s Vineyard. Jette is a redshirt freshman and has been mentioned alongside Antoine Tharpe, Christian Birt and Thellen.
Waiting to Hear About: Offensive Line/Special Teams
There has been a little chatter about Que Sales and a few of the other offensive linemen. On Monday Molnar indicated that some of the players were missing assignments on the line and that they got it together and fixed some of the problems. Other than that, all we know is that Andy Moas is gone and so too are tight ends Jerome Lewis and John McGrath. Offensive line is not an area of immediate concern for the Minutemen, but depth may be a problem. I will be interested to hear if any newcomers are making a name for themselves out there.
There hasn’t been anything about special teams so far, and that concerns me. Kicking was a major problem with last year’s team, and Molnar went out and created the Great Kicker Battle of 2012. Hopefully we hear more about the new guys in the coming days. Regarding the return game, it’s not clear who will field kicks, but Matt Vautour reported that Chase Danska is no longer on the squad. I would keep an eye on Brian Dowling, a sophomore with good speed who was a great kick returner during his days at Wayne Hills High School in New Jersey.