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UMass coach Charley Molnar pleased with first practice showing

  • University of Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar watches the action during the first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar watches the action during the first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar leads his defensive squad to the other side of the field at McGuirk Stadium during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar leads his defensive squad to the other side of the field at McGuirk Stadium during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday in Amherst.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts freshman offensive lineman Fabian Hoeller, takes part in the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts freshman offensive lineman Fabian Hoeller, takes part in the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach John Bond directs redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Wegzyn in a drill during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach John Bond directs redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Wegzyn in a drill during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar directs his Minutemen during the first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar directs his Minutemen during the first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Wegzyn, right, attempts a completion during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst. At far left is sophomore quarterback A.J. Doyle (15). <br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Wegzyn, right, attempts a completion during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst. At far left is sophomore quarterback A.J. Doyle (15).
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts sophomore wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, left, reaches for a pass just out of reach in front of sophomore defensive back D'Metrius Williams during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts sophomore wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, left, reaches for a pass just out of reach in front of sophomore defensive back D'Metrius Williams during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts freshman offensive lineman Fabian Hoeller (73), left, clears a lane after snapping the ball during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts freshman offensive lineman Fabian Hoeller (73), left, clears a lane after snapping the ball during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts freshman running back Lorenzo Woodley, left, takes a handoff from freshman quarterback Todd Stafford during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts freshman running back Lorenzo Woodley, left, takes a handoff from freshman quarterback Todd Stafford during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts freshman tight end Sharif Custis, left, advances a reception from freshman quarterback Todd Stafford, far right, to the delight of head coach Charley Molnar, far left, during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts freshman tight end Sharif Custis, left, advances a reception from freshman quarterback Todd Stafford, far right, to the delight of head coach Charley Molnar, far left, during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts freshman Fabian Hoeller, left, and fellow offensive linemen take part in a drill in the north end of McGuirk Stadium Monday during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts freshman Fabian Hoeller, left, and fellow offensive linemen take part in a drill in the north end of McGuirk Stadium Monday during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts freshman Fabian Hoeller, left, and fellow offensive linemen take part in a drill in the north end of McGuirk Stadium Monday during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    University of Massachusetts freshman Fabian Hoeller, left, and fellow offensive linemen take part in a drill in the north end of McGuirk Stadium Monday during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • University of Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar watches the action during the first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar leads his defensive squad to the other side of the field at McGuirk Stadium during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts freshman offensive lineman Fabian Hoeller, takes part in the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach John Bond directs redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Wegzyn in a drill during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts head coach Charley Molnar directs his Minutemen during the first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Wegzyn, right, attempts a completion during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst. At far left is sophomore quarterback A.J. Doyle (15). <br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts sophomore wide receiver Tajae Sharpe, left, reaches for a pass just out of reach in front of sophomore defensive back D'Metrius Williams during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts freshman offensive lineman Fabian Hoeller (73), left, clears a lane after snapping the ball during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts freshman running back Lorenzo Woodley, left, takes a handoff from freshman quarterback Todd Stafford during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts freshman tight end Sharif Custis, left, advances a reception from freshman quarterback Todd Stafford, far right, to the delight of head coach Charley Molnar, far left, during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season Monday at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts freshman Fabian Hoeller, left, and fellow offensive linemen take part in a drill in the north end of McGuirk Stadium Monday during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • University of Massachusetts freshman Fabian Hoeller, left, and fellow offensive linemen take part in a drill in the north end of McGuirk Stadium Monday during the Minutemen's first football practice of the 2013 season.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

AMHERST — Nothing about practice No. 1 in season No. 2 did anything to dampen University of Massachusetts football coach Charley Molnar’s enthusiasm Monday morning.

“It was really great. It was fun to work with the players and see the improvement that they made. They seemed to be more together. They understand the way we want to run things,” he said. “I thought the tempo was good for much, much longer than it was at any point last year in summer camp. They started to fade a little bit, but for the most part the guys were in great spirits, starting to come together.”

The Minutemen began practice for their Aug. 31 noon game against Wisconsin, with several players in the fold for the first time. The day marked the debut for three fifth-year transfers and more than 20 true freshmen. One junior college transfer and four freshmen, who both enrolled in January, also practiced.

Molnar thought his roster was more equipped to be competitive in 2013 than it was in 2012.

“It does look like a MAC team,” Molnar said. “As the MAC gets better and better, I can’t tell you where the other MAC teams are right now. In my picture of what we faced last year, at least the first 22 guys out there look like they can compete against the 22 guys the other guys put out there. I had a great sense that we had more guys leading than ever before. I’ve been at places where the head coach or assistant coaches bemoan that there’s not enough leadership. After day one, I’m not going to say that. I think we do have leaders on this football team, guys that are going to step up.”

BOND BEGINS— New offensive coordinator John Bond joined the staff at the end of spring practice, but Monday marked the first consistent opportunity to work with his team.

“It’s been great. I’ve enjoyed it. We’ve got a lot of work to do. The players have a good attitude, but it’s always fun to coach when you have guys that are eager,” Bond said.

Because Bond wasn’t with the team for most of the spring, he’s learning UMass’ offensive terminology rather than expecting the players and coaches to learn his.

“It’s out of my comfort zone a little bit. I was using my same passing game philosophy for the past 19 years,” he said. “I had to adapt to the terminology here. Getting the first practice under my belt here is a big relief.”

Molnar said Bond acclimated himself quickly.

“It feels like he’s been here for a long time,” Molnar said. “To say that he embraced a role would be an understatement. I was able to spend a lot of time with John early on and tell him what’s important to me and how we run our offense and things I look for on offense. He totally grasped it. We have great communication. I don’t anticipate any problems.”

Molnar said he’s given Bond, who was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Georgia State for the past five seasons, more authority than former UMass coordinator Mike Kruczek.

“I allow him to set the structure day-to-day and what’s going to be the agenda for the day, the week and the month,” Molnar said. “It’s something I like to do and I wanted to do, but I thought it was important to John to establish his authority with the offensive coaches and he’s done a great job of it.”

Bond said he was optimistic about the offense’s potential.

“We understand the challenge. We have enough players and enough skill level to get done what we want to get done,” he said. “We don’t have Alabama talent, but who does. That’s why we put the whistle around our neck, to coach ’em up.”

Molnar called plays for the UMass offense last year. While he said he wouldn’t be surrendering the role entirely, Bond will have more of an active role.

“Right now I think it’ll be a combination. I truly enjoy calling plays. I’ll be prepared to call plays, but it goes hand in hand with John’s job,” Molnar said. “He’ll be calling a lot of the plays, but I’ll certainly be calling them as I see fit.”

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

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