Mike Wegzyn showed improvement and scored a touchdown
on Saturday against the Hoosiers, but he's still got a long
road ahead of him before he's leading this team to wins.Final Score:
Massachusetts 6Vegas Sez:
The Hoosiers came into the game as 13.5 point favorites and they easily covered the spread.When We Knew It Was Over:
When Tre Roberson sprinted up the middle of the defense for a 39 yard touchdown, his second touchdown on the same play of the game. The Minutemen never really threatened again after the score went to 14-6.What Went Wrong?:
The defense was simply out classed in this one. I came into the game looking for some improvement and we saw it on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense regressed from last week and looked completely over powered and lost when Tre Roberson was running the option for the Hoosiers. Things settled down in the second half based in large part to the fact that Roberson left the game with a broken leg and the Indiana offense, which is much different under back-up quarterback Cameron Coffman wasn't nearly as explosive as it was when Roberson was on the field.
The Minutemen also had some significant penalty issues, with the most glaring being an Indiana fourth-and-goal when Coffman came to the line to draw the defensive line offside and the defensive line jumped. It was a terrible mental error by a defense that had a rough afternoon. The other mistake that really cost the Minutemen was a ridiculously unnecessary block in the back after a Darren Thellen interception which cost the Minutemen some great field position at a time when the game was still close enough for things like that to matter.For a team with the limited talent that this Minutemen team has, you cannot had 9 penalties for 85 yards, that is simply inexcusable and will need to be fixed before next week when the Wolverines will be waiting to hang 70 on this team.What Went Right?:
The offense showed signs of improvement. I'm not ready to buy a Mike Wegzyn jersey or anything but his decision making was better in this game and it's tough to argue with 151 yards through the air when you're coming off a game where the offense produced a total of 59 yards of offense. Wegzyn had a very nice flea flicker pass to Marken Michel which would have been a touchdown if he had led the received a little better, but Wegzyn made up for it soon thereafter with a quality scamper off an option play where Wegzyn kept the ball, faked the entire Indiana defense out, juked the one defender who wasn't already on his heels and scored the first (and thus far only) UMass touchdown of the season.
I'd also give a helmet sticker to Tajae Sharpe, the true freshman looked like the best offensive player on the field for the Minutemen from my seats in Gillette Stadium. He ran crisp routes, he had decent hands and while his stat line isn't going to take your breath away, between Sharpe and Michel, I think I might trust Sharpe more.
Also while it is still maddening to watch this offense, down by 30+ points run draw and sweep plays into a horde of defensive lineman, the running game was improved this week with Michael Cox as the main cog in the running game wheel. Cox had 5 carries for -4 yards against UConn and on Saturday he went for 36 yards on 15 attempts -- see what I mean about improvement? Yeah 2.6 yards per carry isn't going to cut it, but at least the running game is moving in the right direction.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't give a tip of the hat to the student section which showed up in force, was loud and motivated from the beginning of the game and were jumping with joy when Mike Wegzyn got into the endzone to make the score 7-6. Now, admittedly the students got pretty quiet after awhile, that was to be expected...but they were there, and even when the ran came a lot of them stayed in their seats. I can't imagine the 2 hour bus ride back to Amherst was fun and if 35 buses make the trip to Gillette for the Ohio game I'd be shocked, but for one day the students did their part, and I just hope that they keep coming and that they know it's a work in progress.
Oh also, the band was phenomenal. Keep it up band.The Final Word:
We scored a touchdown.
The pre-game ceremony was nice. The flyover was awesome. My seats are great, and we scored a touchdown.
Everything after that was a bit of a nightmare.
This game felt like it took three days to play. The first quarter came in somewhere around 2 hours and 45 minutes (estimate), and the second quarter wasn't much quicker. The offense improved, the punt team continued to be the best part of the team and the defense got worse. Heading into the game I was looking for improvement and I saw it in some places -- which has to be considered a success.
I still think the offensive play calling is a bit of a mess. I understand sticking with the running game to just give the defense some time to recuperate, but I don't think that our offensive line has the talent to run to the outside. Screen passes, tosses, sweeps and flanker screens just don't work for this team because the line can't get out fast enough to block and the defense isn't threatened with the deep ball enough to play off the line.
On defense my biggest concern is the flats. The DE/OLB position seems incapable of holding the edge of protecting the flats. I'm not sure if its a scheme problem or what, but both UConn and Indiana exploited the flats and killed the Minutemen with screens and running plays to the outside. It was also tough to watch Tre Roberson motion a WR across the formation, watch the entire UMass defense shift leaving the mdidle of the field wide open. The run defense was b-a-d on Saturday giving up 333 yards on the grounds, you aren't going to win many games with that type of run defense.Next Week:
Saturday, 3:30 at the Big House.
Tre Roberson decimated the Minutemen defense on Saturday, is there any ceiling on the performance that Denard Robinson could have?