Saturday September 22, 2012

AMHERST -- The University of Massachusetts football team is now 0-3 in its inaugural Division I-FBS season. No amount of wishful thinking will erase that.

UMass coach Charley Molnar said he believes strongly that as tough as playing Connecticut, Indiana and Michigan was, those games are completely in the past.

"Each of those games we played previously were vitally important to us to go out and try to win every game we played," he said. "Now that we’re into the conference, of course, it’s a fresh start if you were 0-3 like us or if you were 3-0. The conference is what it’s all about."

The Minutemen begin their Mid-American Conference schedule on Saturday against Miami of Ohio. The noon kickoff comes against a Red Hawk team that is 1-2 and coming off a 39-12 loss at Boise State. Miami opened with a 56-10 loss at Ohio State and beat Division I-FCS Southern Illinois 30-14 in between.

That sounds a little similar to UMass’ early lack of success. The Minutemen lost to UConn 37-0, Indiana 45-6 and Michigan 63-13.

Molnar has said his team had been overmatched talent-wise in the three non-league losses. But the first-year coach also said that his players have performed better in some areas.

"After we got a chance to get back and watch the video, there were some bright spots for our football team - not nearly enough," he said. "We did make some strides, I think, offensively. We’re throwing the ball a little better, getting it out of our hands and making better decisions. We ran the ball more effectively."

The Red Hawks do have a statistical advantage over the Minutemen. Coach Don Treadwell’s team averages 17.3 points per game to 6.3 for UMass. Like UMass, Miami doesn’t run the ball that well. The Red Hawks average 52.7 rushing yards to 64.3 for UMass. Senior quarterback Zac Dysert is 48 of 53 in his last two games, and threw for more than 300 yards against Ohio State.

To reach Howard Herman:
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