Charley Molnar on new QBs, optimism, pressure and changes for the future

Friday, January 03, 2014
AMHERST — University of Massachusetts football coach Charley Molnar expects to add at least one quarterback before the start of the spring semester, and potentially more by the end of the school year.

Molnar talked about that and a wide variety of other topics in his first media interview following the 2013 season.

Shortly before the end of the season, Molnar said adding a veteran quarterback wasn’t a recruiting priority, but the continued struggles of starter A.J. Doyle and the departure of backup Mike Wegzyn appears to have changed his approach.

“We need to bring in a couple of competitive players,” Molnar said. “They don’t all have to come in a midyear, but we’ll add at least one at midyear. We’ll add a high school player and maybe another player at the end (of the school year). Either another high school player or a transfer, whatever is the best available guy on the board.”

Molnar said he didn’t have midyear guy, who’d likely be a junior college transfer, committed yet, but had promising targets.

“We’ve targeted a couple of guys. Until we get one of them to say yes, the list is fluid. Once one of them says yes, we’ll be in good position,” Molnar said. “We need depth and competition.”

Former Kansas quarterback Taylor Baty, who is at San Francisco City College, visited UMass last week.

Molnar expected freshman quarterback Todd Stafford, who redshirted the 2013 season, to be in the mix next year.

“I think he’s got a real chance to help our football team. He’s one of the hardest workers in our freshman class,” Molnar said. “He’s going to help our football team in some way shape or form in 2014.”

Whoever plays quarterback will be working with a new offensive coordinator. Molnar dismissed John Bond from the position after the season. His replacement will be the fourth offensive coordinator during Molnar’s two-year tenure.

Molnar, a former offensive coordinator himself, contended that he’s not tough to work with.

“I really believe I’m easy to work with. Why things don’t work out? There’s a myriad of reasons things don’t work out,” said Molnar, who also dismissed wide receivers coach Allen Suber. “We’ll add two guys into our organization that will help us move forward.”

The leading candidate to take over at offensive coordinator is tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Shane Waldron, who has been one of Molnar’s most trusted lieutenants during his time in Amherst.

“He’s a very bright young coach,” Molnar said. “He wants to, and needs to, assume more responsibility and he will going forward, regardless. He knows what we need. He knows the players. He’s had a hand in recruiting most of them. ... He’s expecting an expanded role and he certainly deserves it.”

STILL OPTIMISTIC — Despite a 2-22 record over the past two seasons, Molnar thought the Minutemen were ready to turn a corner.

“I think the fact that we have more depth, more true scholarship players, those things all point to positive growth. I believe how close we are to being good. I can put my finger on the reason we didn’t have more wins. Some of them were beyond my control at this moment at time,” Molnar said. “Certain issues just couldn’t be corrected. You can only scheme around guys so much. It’s a slippery slope. If you try to cover up for a guy too much, you have too much offense or defense.

“In two years, I’ve made very few excuses in terms of injuries, if you did the count, there can’t be many teams in the country that had so many injuries and so many man-games lost due to injuries,” Molnar continued. “At some positions, if we didn’t have the injuries we would have been able to be OK. But at some of those, the depth was so poor you have no choice but to shuffle guys around.”

ON PRESSURE — Because of his record, Molnar is expected to be under scrutiny in his third season. Molnar said he feels more pressure from within than concerns about keeping his job.

“It’s so much more internal than external,” he said. “The pressure I feel is much more to the people that have believed in me than the people who have been tepid or one foot in and one foot out. I want to validate that they believe in our program and what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

Molnar said there would be changes on the field, but didn’t get specific.

“We evolved from year one to year two and we’ll certainly evolve from year two to year three,” Molnar said. “I have some strong opinions on things that need to be changed, starting from me down to the assistant coaches and support staff. There’s other things where we’re right on track doing the right thing. We have some real areas of concern and some areas where we’re really excited about. We try to capitalize on areas where we feel like we have some strong players. In areas where we’re week we’ll have to do some things in terms of moving personnel or doing some things with our scheme.”

LEADERS — Molnar said the team’s leaders were still evolving, but pointed to linebacker Stanley Andre, who’ll be a senior next year as a likely leader.

“In 2012, he started to step up as a leader. In 2013, his presence was felt even more. Moments after the game ended at Ohio U., Stanley stepped to the front of the room,” Molnar said. “He’s the obvious one. There’s other guys that have good leadership skills, but I’m excited about Stanley.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage