This week we had a series of questions from Peter Farrell, a longtime Maroon Musket reader. If you have any questions about UMass football, the Musket or anything else, don’t hesitate to send us an e-mail at (MaroonMusket@gmail.com).
Who starts at QB next season? I’m assuming its between AJ Doyle and Mike Wegzyn – who do you think is better?
I’ve gone back and forth with this one since the Central Michigan game, and I’m still not sure I have an answer.
On one hand, Wegzyn has nearly a full year of reps under his belt and has seemingly become more comfortable in Charley Molnar‘s spread attack. On the other hand, Doyle looked pretty poised during his few opportunities under center and didn’t seem to get as rattled when the flood gates broke. Doyle was also one of Molnar’s marquee signees in 2012. As many of you will remember, he flipped from N.C. State to UMass after Molnar promised him a quarterback spot.
I keep flip-flopping because I really haven’t had a chance to see either of these guys work with a full deck. Throughout the 2012 campaign, the offensive line struggled, wide receivers were overmatched, and the running game – while impressive at times – took a little while to find its rhythm. All the while, Molnar kept saying that he was barely scratching the surface of his playbook.
It’s like picking a car based on how it drove in a parking lot.
This is how I feel about the situation in early April: Wegzyn is a more naturally gifted quarterback and will likely have another chance to prove himself during the first few weeks of the season. However, I think Doyle is a better athlete, and has the rare ability to shake off mistakes and maintain his poise. At the end of the day, I think this may be a quarterback-by-committee situation, where Wegzyn leads the way but will be on a very short leash.
The Collegian recently reported a similar scanerio and indicated that Wegzyn is I-A, while Doyle is I-B. It also sounds like Wegzyn is pretty confident with his progression as a college quarterback:
I feel head and shoulders above where I was last year, and even the end of the season. I’ve had that experience, I’ve got that under my belt. I know what to expect with college football more so, the speed of the game, everything that goes into it.
While not directly related to the question at hand, I’ve made an observation about the hoopla surrounding the quarterback battle. It seems to me that a lot of UMass fans are really into seeing Doyle under center. Part of me thinks that this has to do with the fact that he is a “Molnar Guy,” while Wegzyn came in under (sigh) Kevin Morris. I hope I’m wrong about this. Wegzyn has proven to be a tough bastard during his time under center, and I think he could emerge as a legitimate FBS quarterback with the right tools.
I think Molnar’s history as a quarterback developer will help both of these young quarterbacks – regardless of who recruited them.
Where is Brandon Hill? He went from starting to us needing to go search Amherst for him.
Hill has been down with a shoulder injury and is just starting to work his way back into the rotation. He has been practicing with the team during Spring practice, and is currently projected as No. 3 on the depth chart. There have been a few articles out there regarding his lack of arm strength, and that is to be expected after the injury he suffered. Hill is a big, strong kid and will provide some quality depth at the position.
UMass fans should be happy that Hill not only stuck around, but worked to get himself back into football shape. He’s a good story and could push for time if either Doyle or Wegzyn falls too far behind.
Why wouldn’t we consider a transfer QB instead of going through another year of growing pains?
Charley Molnar doesn’t like going the JUCO route for players and will only do so in borderline emergency situations (See: Josh Bruns on the offensive line). There was little to no chance that he was going to go in that direction to find a starting quarterback, and that has more to do with his recruiting philosophy than anything else.
As far as a transfer from another FBS or FCS program – I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibilities, but it seems like Molnar wants to build UMass from the ground up.
Let’s put it out there right now: UMass is not seriously vying for a MAC championship next year. If the Minutemen were a quarterback away from a nine- or 10-win season, I think Molnar would go out and try to find a fifth-year transfer to help bridge the gap. That’s not the case, and Molnar knows that.
Molnar is tying to build a stable program in Amherst, and walked into a situation where he could develop two freshmen projects. He is learning the strengths and weaknesses of both athletes and has also gone out and recruited another big arm (Todd Stafford) to provide depth and perhaps a future starter.
Molnar has made a career out of developing young quarterbacks, and it seems like he’s trying to do that again at UMass.
Follow Bob on twitter: @BobMcGovernJr