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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 

15 Comments

  1. Kelly Hill says:

    My question is that Brandon Hill worked his hardest to get back to be the number 1QB he knows more about football and how to get his team to rally around him better then anything I have saw last season. He needs to know that the coaches and fans are behind him and build his confidence instead of tearing it down. He was hurt by having to wrestle a linebacker last winter session. Who lets a quarterback wrestle a lineman? I watched interception after interception last year! We need a mature QB that can rally his team together. That poor kid was never given a chance.

  2. Jake says:

    After watching their recruiting videos I think we should move AJ to linebacker where he was obviously a major D1 talent and we just lost our defensive star. I think Wegzyn was a young QB last season and struggled but with his great potential, toughness and size he could turn into something special. Plus I saw online somewhere that he played in an All American game on the same team as Johnny Football, maybe a little bit of rubbed off. If not, I guess we always have the incoming freshman.

    1. umass1991 says:

      He was promised a chance at QB… that’s why he is here and not at NC State which wanted to move him to LB

      1. Jake says:

        Every school promises players a shot at a position and then ends up moving people around. Now that he is here he should be loyal for the Minutemen and if asked to I am sure he would move for the betterment of the team! I mean if I played I would rather be the starter that split time or back up somebody else.

        1. Bumpa says:

          Though it’s an idea..my guess is our QB depth isn’t such that we can afford to lose AJ from that position. If Wegzyn was to win the position outright as a Sophmore or Junior, and one of likes of Stafford or a walk-on ..or even Brandon Hill present themselves as an back-up/starter option maybe, and if we even need an LB?

          I’d leave AJ where is at.. and don’t forget the like of Huber and Casali!

          1. Dave says:

            As you imply, I think we already have pretty good future depth at linebacker – between the incoming freshmen, Robinson looking like he could be ready to emerge, Santos-Knox returning, and Stanley Andre moving back to MLB, it seems we could be fairly solid there.

  3. SJGMoney says:

    Anybody catch the latest video that Coach tweeted out, the one with Bedell taking it to the house? Speed kills.

    1. Umike says:

      I saw that, he sure does look quick, nice to see the patience for the linemen to open the hole and then hitting it. He does look verrrry small, I hope he can take the hits. Very excited to see Woodley out there, and Mack… Very excited…

      1. SJGMoney says:

        That’s where I think the “forced” red shirt year due to the injury will help. He has gotten bigger and stronger but still quick. Solid quality at RB with him, Broadnax, DaMack Truck and Woodley. Like to see us wear teams down instead of the other way around.

        Remember this too about Bedell, he is tough. He broke his collarbone on a running play, stayed in the game and caught a screen pass and got hit again on the next play. Then he came out of the game. Go watch the replay of that Indiana debacle, it’s still available thru ESPN3, and you will see what I’m talking about.

  4. Bumpa says:

    My take is that it could another full season before one separates themselves from the other. Which is probably ok as we continue to grow and build a cohesive offense..

  5. ms says:

    Whatever may happen and who may start (likely Wegzyn), this year will decide who will continue on as the true quarterback. As quarterback play goes, so goes the team.

  6. Bob says:

    AJ Doyle showed us in the last home game, that he could make something out of nothing. This will be needed with a weak offensive line. He can scramble and run surprisingly for a big guy. Wegzyn is tough and a good soldier, so I expect to see both play a fair amount. Each has to clean up some things. Both appear to be good leaders.

  7. Andy says:

    I know we saw Doyle in one full game (and maybe some cleanup duty elsewhere), so really hard to judge. Wegzyn really impressed me with toughness over the course of the season, taking a lot of hits and bouncing back. I really hate to think that being a KM recruit would put him at a disadvantage. The qb spot is really one of those tough situations in the game, because unlike other positions you just can’t be shuffling them in and out, and the guy who might be a close second will sit on the bench. I say start Wegzyn and see how it goes.

    1. Umike says:

      College football is a different world, I say play both and have different packages for both 11 and 15.

      1. NJUMASS08 says:

        Yeah, I like the idea of splitting time. It also depends who you are playing. If it’s a team that constantly blitzes and gets QB pressure, the we need AJ in to run around.







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