Quarterback A.J. Doyle, offense seeking consistency for UMass Minutemen

Last modified: Sunday, November 10, 2013
AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts football team’s offensive production has been rather meager through four games.

Averaging only seven points and 258.5 yards per game, UMass’ spread offense has failed to pack the necessary punch to remain in games against stiff nonconference opponents. Injuries to tight end Rob Blanchflower and Jordan Broadnax, combined with a change at quarterback after just two games, have added to the offensive woes.

But the Minutemen believe consistency will improve the offense. A bye week gives them extra time before they play at Bowling Green on Oct. 5.

“It’s just a matter of one play and this (offense) is gonna explode,” quarterback A.J. Doyle said. “This team’s gonna average 40-plus points a game once it does explode because this is a scary offense. With the players that we have here, it’s gonna be a scary thing to play against.”

Doyle’s optimism stems from an encouraging performance against Vanderbilt. He completed 20-of-28 passes, including 17-of-21 in the first half, and threw for 133 yards and a score. In four games this season, Doyle’s completed 63.9 percent of his passes.

“I would say he’s grown a lot since summer camp,” UMass coach Charley Molnar said about Doyle’s development. “He becomes more and more poised, more and more confident of himself and the people that are around him. Last year he was full of self-doubt, doubted the people around him. ... I think right now, at least in the last two games, he’s shown that when he’s confident in himself and the people around him he can be pretty good.”

Molnar’s no stranger to the development of proficient college quarterbacks.

As the quarterbacks coach at Central Michigan in 2006, Molnar oversaw the development of then-freshman Dan LeFevour, who led the nation’s 13th-ranked offense en route to being named the Mid-American Conference freshman of the year.

At Cincinnati, Molnar oversaw the maturation of Tony Pike, who threw for 49 touchdowns in three seasons. Pike was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, while LeFevour went to the Chicago Bears in the same round.

Molnar said Doyle possesses certain qualities similar to other quarterbacks he’s had in his spread offense system.

“He’s got a nice, quick release,” Molnar said. “I think that’s vitally important in a spread offense to get the ball out of his hands, make fast decisions and get the ball out of his hands quickly and efficiently.”

Doyle, who averages almost 8 yards per completion, said the development process of a quarterback isn’t instant.

“Obviously, I’d like to do a lot better than I have on the field,” Doyle said. “I’d like the results to show. I know I’m a lot better player than when I stepped on the field a year and three months ago.”

Molnar said he doesn’t get the same opportunities to work hand-in-hand with the quarterbacks like he’s done in the past.

“It’s not as much, I wish I could,” Molnar said. “There’s so many things during the course of practice that take my attention. ... I’m not hands on with the quarterbacks like I’d like to be.”

Doyle’s soaking up the information Molnar can share with him.

“He’s been a huge help always telling me what I should do on certain plays, what reads and what coverage, where I should go, protection checks, everything,” Doyle said. “He’s always been hands-on but at the same time, he doesn’t put too much emphasis on being just an offensive guy.”