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UMass Buffaloed by Bulls

(Redshirt junior Brandon Potvin sacks Buffalo quarterback Joe Licata/Andy Heller for the Maroon Musket)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – At some point, the levee had to break.

Despite playing three quality quarters, the UMass football team buckled in the trenches against a bigger and deeper Buffalo squad. UMass’ patchwork offensive line was exposed against a variety of all-in blitzes, and the defensive line, which had been playing bend-but-don’t-break ball, finally snapped.

In the end, the Bulls came back from a 13-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Minutemen 29-19.

Buffalo scored two unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first was a short pass from redshirt freshman Brian Licata to Alex Neutz, the Bulls’ standout wide receiver, to give Buffalo a 22-19 lead. The Bulls finished off the afternoon with a 12-yard touchdown run from Brandon Murie. Murie, who started at tailback in place of Branden Oliver, finished the game with 90 yards.

Murie and Rashad Jean gashed the UMass defense throughout the fourth quarter, running clock while eating four-to-five yards a play.

“At that point in the game, I really felt that they had been grinded down by Buffalo’s running game,” UMass coach Charley Molnar said. “If we had done better on offense, we wouldn’t have been on the field as much, and certainly they would have had more juice at the end of the game when we needed them to.”

The Bulls held UMass to 264 yards of offense and shut the door on the Minuteman running game. Mike Cox and Jordan Broadnax combined for 60 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Mike Wegzyn, who had 215 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, was constantly under duress in the second half. The redshirt freshman quarterback was sacked eight times.

A major part of the problem was UMass’ offensive line, which was without the services of right tackle Anthony Dima and left guard Michael Boland, both of whom were out with injuries. Back in the lineup were Al Leneus, a true freshman walkon defensive line convert, and Matt Sparks, a true freshman that has seen ample playing time this season.

“We’ve been down this road almost every single week, where we’re playing with new guys,” Molnar said. “Anthony Dima is unquestionably playing the best on our offensive line, at least through the past three or four weeks. To lose your best offensive lineman, when you don’t have many good ones, was a blow to our team.

“In the first half they weren’t able to capitalize on it as well, but then they brought a little bit more pressure in the second half. (They did) things that normally we would be able to handle but when you’ve got guys who just aren’t equipped it certainly started to show.”

Buffalo changed the momentum of the game out of the gates in the second half. After stalling UMass’ offense, Buffalo’s Kyn Minniefield returned a blocked Colter Johnson punt for a touchdown, putting the score at 13-7. The Minutemen stormed back and scored on a three-yard run from Cox. However, a miscue on the ensuing PAT left holder Jeff Strait stranded in the backfield where he was gobbled up by Buffalo tacklers.

“The momentum of the game dramatically shifted at that time, and we gave them life. We never really recouped from that point forward,” Molnar said about the blocked punt and missed PAT.

During the first half, UMass had trouble completing drives. Blake Lucas, UMass’ true freshman placekicker, hit field goals of 39 and 32 yards when the Minutemen stalled in Buffalo territory. UMass scored its first touchdown on a 14-yard pass to tight end Rob Blanchflower with 56 seconds left in the half. Molnar acknowledged that the Minutemen left some points on the field.

“I knew they would come back to haunt us, they always do,” he said.

13 Comments

  1. bob says:

    AJ Doyle needs to see thwe field for half of the game next week. We need to know what his potential is,we know what Wegzyn can do. I think AJ could help improvise when the Oline collapses. Much faster feet. Looking forward to the game friday. All Umass football fanatics should tell 3-4 relatives on Turkey Day that they are going to Gillette on friday. Suggestion to Umass Athletic dept. Sell gift certificates for UMASS football tix for 2013. Lock some new fans in early. Dad or grandpa does not need any more sweaters or chia pets, give them football tickets.

  2. UM51 says:

    Sleepy Sheep I think we can hang academically with Big 10 schools and are all around athletic program is strong.

    1. sleepy sheep says:

      It would be spectacular for UMass athletics and academics but it will never happen.

  3. ms says:

    I think Mr. Molnar had better learn to be more thoughtful in expressing his disatisfaction with players. Effective coaches understand the tacit implications of dressing down players publicly. They just don’t do it. That’s what team and individual meetings are meant for. Most of these players are just out of thei swaddling clothes and are going against men. Part of the learning trajectory is teaching these boys how to play on a level to which none are familiar–not even the very best among them.

  4. ms says:

    With the way MAC schools have been playing, I would argue that the Big East would have been a more advantageous fit for us. The MAC is having a great year, which is not to say we would have performed any better in the BE, but we certainly would not have been more competitive in the Big Ten. The MAC is a good conference, and next year will begin to tell the story. Four wins should not be asking too much.

  5. Andy says:

    Loved the first half, though that first drive that came up with no points at the goal line was a killer. Defense played pretty well as they have been lately, but once again not enough bodies to sustain throughout. Anyone else think that was the slowest moving game clock they’ve ever seen? As they were starting to wear down in the 3rd I wanted to grab some secret remote control and start shaving minutes off the clock, ’cause you just knew the longer this went on we’d run out of gas. As for Wegzyn, I agree that with protection he can rifle that ball in pretty accurately but then he threw a couple of balls to wide open Buffalo “receivers” that left me scratching my head. One of those picks didn’t even have a maroon jersey in the same area code. Still going to cut him slack and chalk it up to freshman mistakes.

  6. MinuteMen says:

    No Wegzyn is Horrible JMoore he’s a large part of the reason why they keep losing, I know there is 1 game left but please start someone else, and if I am him just happy to be playing right now, BRUTAL!!!!

    1. SJGMoney says:

      Saying he is horrible makes you sound like an idiot. He has had some ups and downs this year, as most first year starters wil in a new offense. considering his offensive line has seen more moving parts than a swiss watch I’d say he’s done well.

      1. Andy says:

        The other thing about Wegzyn is just an all-around toughness. When the O-line becomes a little more stable I can see him getting the job done. Freshman mistakes are going to happen, and can be worked out next season. Toughness can’t be taught.

  7. UM51 says:

    Do to the recent developments with Rutgers and Maryland am I crazy to think UMass should inquire about the Big Ten? Large nationally renowned University, great band, Gillette Stadium and the 6th largest media market!

    1. Sleepy Sheep says:

      Our similarities end at being a flagship state university.

      No AAU status, transitional fbs, draw average 11,000 at home, ranked lower in us news than all big 10 schools?

      Buffalo is an all star candidate compared to us.

      In the business work we match up fine with big 10 grads just not athletically.

    2. Tim says:

      Yes, you’re crazy.

      No mid major is in a position to get a sniff from the any of the power conferences. The “best” option for a mid major right now it to be a band aid for the Big East after they get beat up again (Rutgers to B10, UConn to ACC to replace Maryland, Louisville to Big12).

  8. JMoore says:

    I feel like we’ve got all the elemts to be competitive next season as long as we make significant OL improvements. Wegzyn deserves the benefit of the doubt- he’s young and inexperienced but when the pocket doesn’t immediatly collapse around him- he does have flashes of potential and some freaky good accuracy.







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