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Hoosier Daddy: Indiana Game Notes

(Redshirt senior Darren Thellen had 11 tackles and an interception for the Minutemen against the Indiana Hoosiers on September 8 at Gillette Stadium/Andy Heller for the Maroon Musket)

The UMass football team took a baby step forward and Olympic-level vault backwards against the Indiana Hoosiers. The Minutemen fell 45-6 in their first-ever home game as an FBS team.

Below are game notes from what was a disappointing performance – from the offense and defense, to the fans in the stands.

The Offense is Better … On Paper: The Minutemen rebounded offensively against Indiana, but were still unable to mount any kind of consistency. UMass had 264 yards of total offense, and quarterback Mike Wegzyn scored the first touchdown of the FBS era. However, UMass was forced to punt 10 times. Head coach Charley Molnar called up a flea flicker to catch the Hoosier defense off-guard for a big completion to Marken Michel, but UMass couldn’t come up with another big play. The increase in yardage and total production is promising, but the Minutemen are still lightyears away from where they want to be.

What Happened to the Defense?: After putting together a respectable effort against UConn, the Minuteman defense played matador against the Hoosiers. UMass allowed about 600 yards and were essentially inept across the board. Indiana tossed out nearly every running back on the roster, and the Minutemen had no answer as the Hoosiers gained more than 300 yards on the ground, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Of course, the stats are a little thrown off by Tre Roberson‘s two enormous runs, but it’s clear that the defensive line – framed as a strength for UMass – is currently part of the overall weakness. Darren Thellen and Perry McIntyre are doing their best to keep things in check, but two men can’t bolster an entire unit. Things will be ugly against Michigan’s Denard Robinson, who is a far better athlete than Roberson.

UMass Fans Were Typical UMass Fans: After a month of hardcore marketing on television, the Internet, radio, newspaper and word-of-mouth, UMass alumni failed to live up to their end of the bargain. 16,304 fans showed up to Gillette, which is a far cry from Operation 50K and is still about 4,000 away from what UMass administrators anticipated. It was also far less than the 24,000 that showed up to watch UMass play UNH last year – as an FCS team. Indiana was the one “big ticket” opponent this year, as the Minutemen will face MAC opponents the rest of the way. We may see more fans against a teams like Ohio (solid following) or Buffalo (somewhat local), but I fear that there may be a McGuirk-like crowd when a team like Central Michigan comes to town.

To put things into perspective, the Revolution had more than 17,000 against Sporting Kansas City on August 5. Perhaps the new attendance war cry should be: #OutdrawtheRevs.

The Uniforms Look Good: UMass fans were split regarding the new all-black look, but I thought the new threads looked pretty good. The combination of the maroon “UMass” with the white numbers and the new logo all seemed to mesh pretty well. The Minutemen were looking for a new identity when they upgraded to FBS, and I think the all-black uniforms look pretty good. By all accounts, the players like them, too. While the uniforms look good, the team playing in them have been less-than impressive.

Who is Going to Carry the Load?: After years of reliable running, the Minutemen are at a loss with the running back situation. Chris Burns, who saw a lot of playing time against UConn, didn’t carry the ball once. Mike Cox, who had flashes of adequacy, ended up with 49 yards on 15 carries. Molnar reached out and pulled Jordan Broadnax back into the fold, but he failed to separate himself from the pack and only had nine yards on eight carries. Finally, the Minutemen polished off the diamond of its 2012 recruiting class and threw Stacey Bedell to the wolves. Bedell had a reception, but didn’t really have enough rushing attempts to get a flow going.

Mike Wegzyn is Growing Up in Front of Our Eyes: After running for his life and playing scared against UConn, Wegzyn settled in against Indiana. The redshirt freshman had 151 yards passing, ran for a touchdown and didn’t have any turnovers. While he didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, the game seems to be slowing down for him a bit. A.J. Doyle got in the game again, but that is to be expected when the team is down by several touchdowns. I doubt that Wegzyn will be taking a seat anytime soon. Starting anyone else would severely hamper his development, and if the Indiana game was any indication, the kid is starting to figure it out.

Odds and Ends: Colter Johnson appears to have surpassed Jeff Strait as the starting punter. Johnson took all 10 punts for UMass with a 44.1 yard average. … UMass fans need to get to know Joey Colton. The freshman made the most out of his first game at safety and had six tackles. Colton is a local kid that played his high school ball at Xaverian. … Kicker Blake Lucas missed a PAT and a 36-yard field goal. Lucas is a freshman and beat out Brendon Levengood, who takes kickoffs for UMass. Don’t be surprised to see some more maneuvers at this position during the coming weeks. … The Minutemen have not started a season with two losses since 2001.

12 Comments

  1. JMoore says:

    Wow.

    Everyone take a deep breath and relax- whether your gripe is the lack of attendance or lack of talent. Try to understand that for all intents and purposes we are still a FCS team. We are no different from the Savannah States of the world at this juncture. Why do you think coach is constantly reminding us of that? It’s because he knows that he cannot win with Kevin Morris recruits. The players that will make us competative 3 years from now are sidelined 18/19 year old boys watching 22/23 year old BCS men rip our FCS starters to shreds. the good news is that Molnar recruits will get reps and experience this year and shorten their learning curve while coach trains them and helps them build speed strength and size in the weight room.

    As for the attendance, what did you expect? I for one was extremely upset with the marketing campaign but in the end, there was no base to motivate to begin with- we have a lack of diehards and no tradition of a following outside of the one horse towns in the 413. How do we fix the lack of attendance and therefore interest? Win. Win the recruitment wars, win games and we’ll win the attention of new England football fans, alumni or not. No casual fan wants to see a home team blowout loss.

    So, sit back strap in and be patient. but do what you can to help the program succeed- buy season tickets, write a check, reach out to the team and offer to mentor an athlete. Or just keep talking about how excited you are about where this team is heading long term.

    Go UMass.

    1. Bob McGovern says:

      While I agree that this is a waiting game, there is a right for some disappointment with this team not taking a tiny step forward against an offense they face off against every day in practice. I was fully aware that these guys were going to lose by at least two touchdowns, but this defense played well against a random pro-ish style offense courtesy of UConn, and then went to face a very bad Indiana team – who plays the same offense UMass does – and laid an egg. This same Indiana team played almost even with an Indiana State team that UMass should be better than and should recruit better than even on their worst days. No way they win, but some improvement up the middle (the strength of the defense) was expected.

      Per the attendance: That was an embarrassment, and it falls on the shoulders of the UMass alumni. I live in Boston, and I was first in line to knock the school for its lack of marketing. They turned it around drastically to the point where Boston College fans were knocking the marketing on Twitter. When I see B.C. fans poking fun at UMass, it means that old state U is doing it right. I think this alumni base needs to take a long look in the mirror and realize that there is a reason to have pride in their school. It wasn’t just a four-year vacation. It meant something more than that.

      Like you said, winning will change that. However, the “we’re building this with you in mind” pitch will only last so long. Fans need to show up and in the coming years, the team will have to as well.

      Waiting is key, but improvement by the team and the fans is crucial to make this something worth waiting for.

  2. Sam The MinuteFan says:

    Also to add to what some are saying, you have to remember the Colonial Clashes included UNH fans. As someone who went to both, I think that there were a lot more Wildcat fans there than MinuteFans.

  3. Sam The MinuteFan says:

    Only way we top that disappointing fan turnout is with a win over Michigan. That is very, very likely not happening. I actually think we’ll get a similar crowd for Ohio because even though the all-out marketing will be over, more people will have heard about what’s going on. After that I think it goes down to about 15,000 for Homecoming against Bowling Green and then after that it might get ugly.

  4. tom massetti says:

    I guess it was bad day all the way around but what made it even more disturbing
    is the $200K guarantee we gave them to kick our butts!

    1. Andy says:

      Add in the huge $$$ they must have spent on marketing in an attempt fill the place, plus that $200K guarantee and I’m thinking this was a money loser. I STILL can’t get over that pathetic attendance figure, so please add me to the “griping about the attendance” list. I swear that if the tickets were $3.00 each instead of $25.00 or $30.00 you wouldn’t have seen one more person in that stadium.

  5. SJGMoney says:

    This time the defense was embarrassing. I though McIntyre and the rest of the Lbs played horrible, absolutely 100% awful. Terrible play recognition matching up perfectly awful tackling with lack of desire and hustle. Complete 180 degrees from UConn game.

    Offense was better, play calling was still suspect (QB sneak on 4th and 2?) but a huge, huge improvement. Best we can hope for is improvement every week.

    Very disappointed and sad to see turnout. My friends and I had a blast, I think we closed down the parking lot with one final corn hole game in the howling wind and rain, too bad more people didn’t join us. We’ll keep spreading the word and like our offense hopefully we can see some improvement.

  6. larry says:

    A few other thoughts.
    Do a search on the 2010 umass vs Michigan game.
    That umass team was mostly seniors with some juniors n only a few freshman or soph. Played that day.
    Back as regulars speller milhilm n blanchflower but he was the 3rd te then. No one who touched the ball that day is still on the team.
    Defensively potvin (who seems to be trying to tough out a leg injury now) n byrne are back. Perry Mac is back n adeoba too but it does not seem clear why he is playing little after playing a fair amount the last two yrs.
    For db’s that day at Michigan we had lee n Thorpe at corner with thellen n kumar Davis n Burt played some too. So in theory our db’s should mostly be the most experienced group.
    When looking at the cupboard of experienced players we have realistically few on board.
    That is the way it is n we are going to have growing pains for a while.

  7. larry says:

    I’d offer that sporadically the team looked a little better.
    Been around enough to have seen coach calipari in his first games at the cage against Keene state n that was a rough start for him n it took him a while to get the team going in the direction it needed to go. He developed a team of scrappy players who eventually played well together.
    After watching the spring game n after going to uconn n the Indy game(yes been to all) it seems the team is improving in small steps but these small steps are not occurring on the offensive defensively n special teams during the same game. Until all three sides
    les of the team can jell together we will struggle.
    All of those near us in sec 109 seem to pretty well understand the road ahead n we seem to be playing a lot of younger players n that means going through growing pains. So be it.
    For those griping about attendance I’d offer thanks to the 16000 who did go n hope to see you again. Indy only brought maybe 1000. The previous games vs unh would have anywhere from 10-14000 unhand fans n that was why these games were well attended. Look over the attendance totals in the Mac n we did fine. Our home game totals will be effected by how many visiting fans go.
    It is oh so easy to gripe n whine. Our glass Imho is not half full so maybe it is an 1/8 full and we hope it continues to fill up.
    see everyone next for the Ohio game n hoping the team continues to get better each week.
    GO UMASS !

  8. Andy says:

    Agree on attendance. Absolutely embarrassing after that marketing effort. It fell on deaf ears.

  9. Mel says:

    Attendance = disgraceful. Even given my low expectations, I was shocked at the 16K figure. I think it only goes down from here, but I guess it depends on how many fans Ohio and Buffalo bring to Foxboro.

  10. Griffin says:

    People have pointed to the attendance figures when tryin to figure out what we would draw. What people tend to forget is that at least half of those were UNH fans. It’s going to be a long slow process. Coach essentially inherited a D2 team. I for one what them back in a 23-25k seat stadium at home.







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