UMass freshman quarterback A.J. Doyle 'OK' in first start

Last modified: Tuesday, December 25, 2012
FOXBOROUGH — For a few moments in the third quarter, A.J. Doyle looked like he might be seizing front-runner status in the University of Massachusetts’ 2013 quarterback competition against Mike Wegzyn that will begin this spring.

He had just led the Minutemen on their third touchdown drive, two of which he capped with scoring passes. But the true freshman struggled down the stretch throwing three interceptions, two of which led to Central Michigan touchdowns as UMass fell, 42-21, Friday in its final regular season game.

UMass coach Charley Molnar had hoped to learn about his true freshman quarterback in his first start.

“I don’t know if I learned anything new because he’s really demonstrated a lot of the same things in practice and the little bit that he’s played. He does make errors. He’s not perfect,” Molnar said. “That was, I guess, re-emphasized. He’s pretty poised in the pocket. He’ll step up. He’ll come off of his first receiver and move onto his second. He’s got some things to learn. He made a great check where he threw the touchdown to Deion (Walker) there in the third quarter. So he’s certainly on target to be a good player as he moves forward into the future.”

Doyle gave a similar analysis.

“I had some moments out there that I thought I did well. Obviously, a lot of errors to improve upon out there on third picks, especially two on our own end of the field, putting the defense in a bad spot,” Doyle said. “So I mean, overall, I did OK. I don’t think I performed at a level that I wanted to, though.”

Molnar told Doyle and Wegzyn to expect to continue to compete throughout their careers.

“I told these two guys, even back in summer camp, just be prepared to compete for the next four years. Never think that you’ve got it made,” Molnar said. “Never think that it’s over. Just keep fighting each and every day. And that’s really how every guy on our football team should approach every day of practice and every day as a Minuteman. They better prepare that way, that they’re going to be in competition each and every day.”

FLOWER POWER — Junior tight Rob Blanchflower had the best statistical game of his career with 10 catches for 100 yards and one touchdown. It was the first 100-yard receiving game for a UMass tight end since Kerry Taylor had seven catches for 119 yards against McNeese State in the first round of the Division I-AA playoffs in 1998.

“He’s become more and more of a dominant player as we’ve moved through the season,” Molnar said. “Blanch was very productive today and I just had a feeling he would. The way he practices, the way he prepares, the way he leads, you just want to get him the football more and more. And I guess in hindsight, we probably a few times probably should have tried to get him the ball more rather than someone else in some of those down-and-distance situations as they came up.”

Blanchflower said the loss took any joy out of his numbers.

“To be honest, it just doesn’t seem that satisfying with it coming out of a loss. Like I said, everyone has to hold themselves accountable and if the ball gets thrown my way. I had some drops, too,” Blanchflower said. “I just try my best and just trying to do my job to the best of my ability.”

SENIOR MILESTONES – In his last college football game, UMass senior linebacker Perry McIntyre had a career high 18 tackles and one sack. It was his seven games this season with 10 or more tackles. His 132 tackles were second in the Mid-American Conference this season.

He finished his career with 354 tackles which puts him ninth in school history.

Michigan transfer Michael Cox had 66 yards and a touchdown in his final game. Senior receivers Alan Williams (59 yards) and Deion Walker (47 yards) each had seven catches. Darren Thellen had six catches and an interception. Senior defensive lineman Chaz Thompson and Hafis Williams each had two tackles.

ATTENDANCE – The 6,385 was the lowest home attendance of the season. The Minutemen averaged 10,901 in five games at Gillette Stadium.

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