Every week, a number of MAC blogs get together and shoot questions at each other about MAC football. This group has cordially invited the Maroon Musket to join them in this enjoyable endeavor. Below are the three questions posed to the bloggers and the Maroon Musket’s responses:
1.) Week one in the books for the MAC. A fairly major upset, several close calls, and several bloodbaths. What was your biggest surprise and your biggest disappointment across the conference landscape?
I was floored with how well Bowling Green and Buffalo played against Florida and Georgia, respectively. While, on paper, both games ended in blowouts, both teams were able to put respectable points on the board against SEC programs that, quite frankly, could and should have had their way defensively. This is not a slight to either the Falcons or the Bulls, but both teams went deep into SEC territory and got on the scoreboard early. I assume you can chalk some of that up to first-game nerves, but both squads came out strong and could be scary for other MAC teams.
UMass should be particularly concerned with the Buffalo score – if the Bulls can put up 23 on Georgia, they can do the same against UMass. I know many Minutemen fans thought that the Buffalo game would be one of the few chances for a first-season victory. After seeing the performance against a top-level SEC opponent, I wouldn’t be so sure about that anymore.
The biggest disappointment is easily UMass’ ineptitude on offense. UMass came into the season using a spread attack that was supposed to be an improvement upon the pro style that the Minutemen have used for years. Instead, the young Minutemen laid an egg and never got anything going against a much better UConn team. If the offensive unit doesn’t figure something out sooner than later, it could be a long winless year for the Maroon and White.
2.) For your own team, how has your week one performance changed your opinion and/or perspective about what to expect from your squad as the year rolls on?
My perspective on what to expect has, more or less, stayed about the same. Going into the game against UConn, I knew that the Minutemen were in for a pretty significant reality check. UMass is starting a number of freshmen, changed its entire offense and had to essentially replace every single offensive skill player. There was little doubt that there would be some growing pains, and the absolute thrashing that took place in East Hartford is further evidence of that.
What I didn’t expect was the degree of ineptitude that UMass would have on offense (See: Not passing the 50 yard line). I thought Charley Molnar’s spread offense would catch UConn off-guard at least once during the game. The Huskies had no way to know what the Minutemen were bringing to the table, and I anticipated that the Minutemen would find an open receiver when UConn defensive coordinator (and former UMass coach) Don Brown brought out one of his various blitz packages. Instead, UMass’ offensive line left redshirt freshman Mike Wegzyn open for punishment, and when Wegzyn did get a little bit of time, he looked rattled and, quite honestly, scared.
The Minutemen open their home slate this weekend against Indiana – a team that is going through some growing pains of its own. I am not working under any false illusions that UMass will win this game, but I think it will be a little more competitive in front of a friendly crowd. I think the Hoosiers should still be two-touchdown favorites, but after getting punched in the face by UConn, the Minutemen should be able to rebound with a little more offense.
3.) Outside of the MAC, what was your favorite moment from opening weekend and why?
My favorite moment from this weekend is Youngstown State going into Pittsburgh and beating the Panthers.
While UMass is now removed from its days as an FCS program, part of me still roots for the little guys when they step out of their comfort zone to play a big-time FBS program. The Penguins have historically been a quality FCS team, and watching them go in and basically smack Pitt in the mouth was pretty cool for me. Also, if I’m not mistaken, it was Youngstown’s first win over an FBS program, which is aways cool for any FCS program.
Since moving to the MAC, I have always been an advocate for bringing in a team like Youngstown to even out the divisions. I’m sure Toledo, Ohio and Akron fans just finished laughing at me after reading that last sentence. Either way, the Penguins have a good fan base and a strong tradition, and I think they could succeed at the next level if their athletic department chose to make the commitment.