There aren’t as many absolutes in sports as commentators and columnists say there are. The number may be low, but the absolutes do exist.
In baseball, if you are a good team without a great closer, you won’t win a World Series title. In hockey, if you make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, you won’t carry the cup without a great goalkeeper. In football, if you have instability at the quarterback position, you can’t win.
In a business where you seldom get a second chance to make a good first impression, the instability at quarterback for the University of Massachusetts last year was a key factor in the 1-11 record.
Mike Wegzyn was handed the keys to the Minuteman bus last year as a redshirt freshman, and proceeded to drive the bus into a ditch.
He started 11 of the Minutemen’s 12 games, but was relieved by A.J. Doyle in eight of them.
Wegzyn had more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes (6), and completed only 52.6 percent of his passes.
That’s not good enough, and Wegzyn knows it.
"I watched so much film since last season, up until really now. I’ve watched so much of that film back. I’ve looked at all my incompletions and all my completions," he said, "all my decisions that I made. Going through them, I asked myself if I was in that position again, what would I do now?"
The second year of UMass’ voyage into the uncharted waters of Division I-BCS football begins on Saturday, when the Minutemen travel to Madison to play 23rd-ranked Wisconsin.
Win, lose or draw, Wegzyn and his teammates are looking forward to a somewhat better start than they had last year.
In year one of coach Charley Molnar’s tenure in the Mid-American Conference, the Minutemen were roughed up at UConn and were routed in the home opener by Indiana.
UMass found itself outscored 82-6 in those first two games, and by the time Decmeber rolled around, the Minutemen had only beaten Akron.
The Minutemen did have a few competitive games last year. They lost to Ohio U. by 3 points, and to Miami (Ohio) and Buffalo by 11 and 10 points respectively. Otherwise every loss was by at least 20 points.
"We had a lot of guys moving around and we’d get started and something else would happen to move us back. It’s like we shot ourselves in the foot," said the second-year quarterback. "It falls back on me. I need to take better control of the guys out there."
Mike Wegzyn is 6-foot-5, 211 pounds, and looks like the prototypical college quarterback.
In a conversation, he took responsibility for his team’s lack of success in 2012. He is also adamant that the 2013 UMass team may not win a ton of games this year, but it will be very much improved.
"I think a lot of people are going to be surprised, to be honest with you," Wegzyn said. "Last year, it’s obvious that we didn’t get done what we wanted to get done or what people wanted us to do.
"I think people are going to be surprised around the nation because I’ve seen a completely different football team out here. It’s like night and day."
The curtain goes up Saturday at noon. We’ll see what the future holds.