Molnar committed to A.J. Doyle as UMass’ quarterback of the future

Last modified: Friday, December 27, 2013
AMHERST — University of Massachusetts coach Charley Molnar knows he won’t have a fully healthy A.J. Doyle at quarterback for the final two games of the 2013 season. There isn’t enough time to heal to get his quarterback at optimal condition.

But Molnar said he’s convinced that when he’s healthy Doyle can still be the quarterback to lead a rise to success for the Minutemen. While Molnar hasn’t ruled adding either a fifth-year or a junior college transfer at the position, UMass hasn’t been actively seeking one.

“All options are always on the table in terms of recruiting. We’ll still be very young at that spot next year. We’ll have two juniors. If we found the right guy we could add, we would certainly make a run at him,” Molnar said. “To say we made a substantial effort would be an exaggeration.”

Struggles at quarterback have been a large part of UMass’ inability to move the ball, a huge ingredient to the Minutemen’s problems since becoming a Bowl Subdivision team in 2012.

A year ago with Mike Wegzyn under center for most of the team’s offensive snaps, UMass was 11th in the MAC with 186.7 yards per game in the air. The Minutemen’s nine touchdown passes were by far the league’s fewest and 19 interceptions were second most.

This year hasn’t produced much improvement. Doyle took over for Wegzyn in the second game of this season and has started seven of the last eight games, but both quarterbacks have seen action due to Doyle’s injury. Their passing average has dropped to 169.5 yards (12th in the MAC) per game with eight touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.

For UMass to turn things around next year, those numbers would all likely have to improve. Molnar believes a healthy Doyle, who was the first recruit to commit to Molnar at UMass, is capable of making that jump.

“He just can’t get over the injury bug. It’s not enough to keep him off the field, but it’s enough to keep him from playing at his very best,” Molnar said. “It’s a fine line between him being good and him being very good. He has shown to be good and he’s flashed very good. He needs to be healthy so he can consistently be good and make that next step to being very good. Maybe in these last two games he can go from being good to very good.”

Molnar will need somebody to be better than UMass’ quarterbacks have been over the past two seasons. Molnar likely enters next season with considerable pressure to show progress in the win column. To do that he’ll need better quarterback play.

Todd Stafford, who is currently redshirting, will join the competition next year. Randall West, a recruit from New Jersey, who has committed to UMass, was expected to compete as well, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury during his high school season, so his health will likely have to be re-evaluated.

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