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Maroon Musket Mailbag


It looks like last week’s mailbag kicked up a little more activity. We picked up a few more questions, which will give us some talking fodder during these dog days of summer.

Today’s question came via Pat, who reached out via e-mail.

If you have any questions about UMass football, the Musket or anything else, don’t hesitate to send us an e-mail at (MaroonMusket [at] gmail [dot] com).

With what looks to be a talented and deep pool of running backs for the next few years, do you think the Minutemen should run more of a pistol offense than the traditional spread?

During the 2012 season, Charley Molnar brought out the Pistol formation on a number of occasions. Most notably, the Minutemen used the hybrid set in back-to-back weeks against Akron and Buffalo. On the ground, the results weren’t there, as Mike Cox rushed for 77 yards in the two games, combined.

However, Cox’s lackluster stats don’t exactly tell the whole story about this offensive formation. While Molnar used the Pistol to set up some run plays, the vast majority of handoffs came out of a traditional spread formation. In 2012, UMass would often rely on delayed handoffs and plays that – on the periphery - looked like read options. Many of these attempts were laid to rest at the line of scrimmage. This led many, including myself, to campaign for more up-the-middle runs.

In Molnar’s offensive philosophy, the Pistol may be the mechanism used to ground-and-pound, and I think he will continue to go back to it. UMass brought in a couple of bigger backs in Lorenzo Woodley and Daquan Mack, and I think these guys will be asked to gash out of the Pistol, while Stacey Bedell and Jordan Broadnax will dance and catch out of the spread. I was once told that, in his ideal offense, Molnar would throw a number of running backs with different attributes at opposing defenses. If next year’s depth chart is any indicator, he is in the process of implementing this strategy.

While Molnar will likely use the Pistol formation in 2013, it’s highly unlikely that UMass will ever look like Chris Ault‘s Nevada. When asked about the Pistol early last year, Molnar was quick to say that it was merely a wrinkle in his offense. In a way, it’s sort of like how UMass advertises itself as a 4-3 team, but then comes out in the Nickel depending on the situation.

So, to answer your question: I think UMass should bring out the Pistol formation to add a degree grind to the running game. The formation can also open things up in the passing game since the running back’s position doesn’t give any “tip” to where the play is heading. However, while the Minutemen will likely run plays from the Pistol formation, it will not run an overarching Pistol offense. The base will still be the spread, for better or worse.

Follow Bob on twitter: @BobMcGovernJr


  1. UMass16 says:

    One question that has popped into my head the last few days reading MM and Bob’s Twitter pages: Pardon my ignorance, but are there certain NCAA regulations regarding when universities can announce transfers, as opposed to outside media outlets?

    1. Bob McGovern says:

      Yes – with Grad School transfers, the school cant announce until the athlete is enrolled in classes. With walk-ons, they need to be on campus and in class. With standard recruits, its fine when they sign the LOI.

      1. UMass16 says:


  2. LOEP says:

    Well, game’s over. Bob wins again. One last comment. Since I never like to leave questions unanswered, I sign off by saying to Jason who commented on June 1st. I am not offended. I played football at the collegiate level. I am a man and my wife has never accused me of being too sensitive. Adios, Amigos.

  3. John 70 says:

    I think that there are probably a few thousand diehard UMass Football fans, who go to games come rain or shine, another eight to ten thousand serious fans, who plan to go but can be sidetracked by weather or whatever. There are probably a few thousand casual fans that will go to a game if the time, weather, and planets are aligned. WINS and more coverage of the great, affordable, family experience that UMass Football is will expand the fan base.

  4. LOEP says:

    Greetings and Salutations earthling UMass fans. I have been sitting here through the football drought. Bob has kept up his persistent quality of football insight. I don’t know how he doesn’t lose his mind because we need some football games. I think it’s time Bob gets paid again. I’ve been at work since 6 a.m. this morning, my trucks are all back in the yard, the wind is blowing and I have to be here three more hours. How about a game of Contractor Guesstimate. In my business people come in and ask for estimates without all of the details needed for their project. They then ask for a guesstimate or ballpark figure. So in contracting lingo, give me a guesstimate or football stadium figure of how many die hard UMass football fans we have at this point.
    Since times are tough, I will start out by giving Bob $1 per guesstimate or comment about UMass football in general. The timer starts now and will end at 4:00 p.m. MDT or 6:00 p.m. EDT.

    Let the guesstimates begin!
    (no Spanish needed)

    1. Bob McGovern says:

      Haha, you’re the best man.

      1. LOEP says:

        Bob, where is your guesstimate? As my grandfather always told me, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. lol

    2. LOEP says:

      My guesstimate is that Miller joining UMass will be a great plus!
      (The older I get the more I’ve learned to play by myself)

      1. Greg says:

        I think Miller will also be a great get. We are young at receiver, so an older guy with maturity can only be a plus.

        1. LOEP says:

          Thanks, Greg, for the comment. If he works out like Michael Cox did, he will be a great asset. (It’s a good time to go $5 per guesstimate or comment)

        2. Umike says:

          I’d say we had, what? 4-5k season ticket holders last year, maybe? Maybe 1-2k in western MA who didn’t buy in because of the commute, so I’m gonna say 6,455.

          1. JohnnyStah says:

            Plus two for my g/f and I. I don’t buy season tickets because I’m in the Army Guard and have to miss up to three games a season. But at the same time I’m scouring the internet for away game feeds.

          2. LOEP says:

            Thanks for the head count. I commend you on your service to our country.

    3. SJGMoney says:

      As one of those diehards who trekked down to Gillette on Black Friday, after working half a day, I’d say that day’s attendance figure is 1/3 the die-hard figure. Because I’m sure there were many people who wanted to be there but the Friday afternoon after a holiday wasn’t going to allow it. And then we have another contingent who just can’t make the games for other reasons but live and die with game results. So I’m going with the current figure of 18,462. And growing daily!!!

      1. LOEP says:

        Good to hear your comments, Amigo. I’m probably one of those in your scenario. I can’t just jump 2000 miles to go to a game and still make a living. But I will be at a lot of games in the future, I hope. When the plan comes together as John 70 said at the end of his comment, there will be a lot more die hard fans besides what’s sitting in the stadium. (Unless I win the lottery, then I might have to move to Massachusetts!)

      2. SJGMoney says:

        Forgot to mention one of the best parts of that game: seeing Lou Roe and his family at half time walking around the club section. Good to shake his hand and thank him for the thrills he gave us.

        The best part of that game was the actual action on the field. Falling behind 14-0, scoring to make it 14-7 and then sitting in the stands and talking amongst ourselves, “okay let’s score here before the half to tie it up, get the second half kickoff, drive down the field and take the lead”. Boom, we do just that, we tie it up, we start the 2nd half off with a great drive and take the lead.

        I know it all fell to shit after that as the reincarnation of the Nigerian Nightmare just ran us over (and we were fooled by a jump pass of all things on a critical 3rd down!!!), but the progress we showed after that NIU shellacking was heart-warming.

        Wish I had some game film to watch tonight before the big Bruins game. Think maybe I’ll go home, fire up ESPN3 and re-watch the Ohio game!!

        1. Umike says:

          Wait, (I apologize) but we can re watch games on ESPN3?

          1. SJGMoney says:

            Yes, although I just checked and it looks like the archive only goes back to Dec 1. This was on my IPad and the Watch ESPN app. I’ll have to double check the regular espn3 site as well as on my Xbox to see if you can go back further on those.

        2. LOEP says:

          Well, now we’ve heard from UMike. I did say anything pertaining to UMass. I think next time we’ll have to play “Where’s Larry?”. My guesstimate is that with the time change, our schedules don’t quite jive so I’m going to go ahead and factor Larry in for a few comments, anyway. We all know he’s here in spirit and heart.

          (One hour to go, let’s take it up to $10 per guesstimate!)

  5. UM51 says:

    Is there any truth to the rumor that UMass is being pressured by the MAC to become a full tparticipant? If so what are options?

    1. Bob McGovern says:

      Right now, the word I have isn’t “official” enough for me to report it an an absolute truth. Believe me, I’m working this story, but I would be doing a disservice if I gave only second-hand recounts of the situation. I can say this: People who follow the MAC are definitely talking about it.

  6. umass1991 says:

    Bob, wouldn’t the RB actually tip off the type of offense or at least the formation? With Woodley or Mack on the field, the DC would see Pistol and with Bedell or Broadnax.. spread

    1. Bob McGovern says:

      My mistake with the wording:

      In the pistol, the RB is behind the QB so there is little tip as to which way he is going – whether it be up-the-middle or out in the flats for a pass. In the spread, the RB lines up on either the right or left of the QB, so that gives a small tip as to where the play might be going. For instance, if Broadnax lines up to the right of Wegzyn, it is less likely that he will split left for a pass.

  7. ms says:

    Agreed. Great cohort of what seems a promising running game. Establish the run, and the passing game can let fly. My concern is the inexperience of and lack of depth in the o-line and at tight end. If the offensive line matures and evolves together, in a year or two the offense will be be far more productive and we will probably have an established running game if not a bone fide star in the backfield.

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