2013 Massachusetts Preview – Offense

Posted Jul 9, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - UMass Minutemen Offense

UMass Minutemen

Preview 2013 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: Things might continue to get worse before they get any better. But how could the offense take another step back after finishing dead last in college football in scoring and passing efficiency? Nothing worked on a regular basis, starting with a line that was shaky throughout the season and now could be even worse with some key losses and an uncertain starting five. The skill players need room to work, but they also need to make things happen when given the chance. A No. 1 receiver has to emerge, the thin running back situation has to be more effective and the quarterback pecking order has to be settled.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Mike Wegzyn
182-346, 1,825 yds, 6 TD, 10 INT
Rushing: Mike Wegzyn
93 carries, 141 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Rob Blanchflower
43 catches, 464 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Mike Wegzyn
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior OT Vincent Westcarr
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Tajae Sharpe
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Rob Blanchflower
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Blanchflower, 2) RB Lorenzo Woodley, 3) C/G Josh Bruns
Strength of the offense: Youth, Lost Fumbles
Weakness of the offense: Scoring, Depth


The passing game struggled and sputtered throughout all of last year with too many interceptions and too many misfires. Sophomore Mike Wegzyn did what he could both as a runner and a passer completing 53% of his passes for 1,825 yards and six scores, but he threw ten interceptions in his true freshman campaign. The 6-5, 215-pounder didn't come up with big games on the ground, but he took off when needed finishing second on the team with 141 yards and two scores. The Knoxville, Tennessee native has great size and has good upside, but he needs more help around him. With a year of experience he needs to be more consistent.

6-3, 226-pound sophomore A.J. Doyle got a start against Central Michigan and saw playing time throughout the year finishing with 419 passing yards with three touchdowns, and he ran for 28 rushing yards. However, he gave up eight picks including three in the season finale against the Chippewas. A smart, accurate passer with good size and a live arm, he has decent upside with good mobility.

Watch Out For … Todd Stafford, a massive 6-7, 250-pound bomber who was out of the recruiting process for most places after missing a bulk of his high school career hurt. However, he came back as a senior and had a nice year, showing a little bit of what he might do. He needs polish and time, but he has a special arm and pro-passing skills.
Strength: Size. There might be smallish, athletic options on the roster, but overall this is a huge group of quarterbacks with most 6-3 or taller with live arms. They fit the type.
Weakness: Passing efficiency. The Minutemen finished dead last in all of college football in passing efficiency with a 93.91 rating. Only Kansas finished lower than 102. Not only did UMass quarterbacks complete just nine touchdown passes with 19 interceptions, but they couldn't push the ball down the field averaging just 9.4 yards per completion.
Outlook: The passing game can't be any worse. It was a transitional season for the program in any way, and it showed with true freshmen being thrown to the wolves to try making things happen. Wegzyn has good skills and potential, but he needs more time and seasoning. The coaching staff should be able to do more with the midrange passing attack.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

Can the Minutemen find some semblance of consistency on the ground? 5-9, 175-pound junior Jordan Broadnax is a smallish, quick speedster who spend most of his time as a special teamer and kickoff returner, but he got a few carries, too, averaging just 2.3 yards per run with 124 yards to go along with 14 catches for 93 yards. With terrific quickness, he has the potential to do far more if he can get the ball in space.

5-10, 190-pound sophomore Jamal Wilson is another speedster with a great résumé, helping to lead his St. Thomas Aquinas team out of Fort Lauderdale to a state title. A do-it-all back he ran for 53 yards in his limited role, but he could be a receiver out of the backfield and has the talent and skill to be a bit of a workhorse at times.

Watch Out For … Lorenzo Woodley. A phenomenal recruit, the 6-0, 205-pounder out of Miami had his choice of several great offers from places like Florida State, Tennessee and Syracuse, but he's going to quickly be the team's main man with shifty speed and quickness through the hole.
Strength: Quickness. Woodley adds even more to the mix, but Broadnax and Wilson can move, too.
Weakness: Depth. Woodley had better rock out of the gate, because there's no sure-thing depth. The veteran starters haven't exactly proven themselves at a high level, and the backups aren't in place to come up with a strong rotation.
Outlook: Only six teams averaged fewer yards per game than a UMass offense that came up with 91.58 rushing yards per game. There's little power and almost no returning production with leading rusher Michael Cox, who ran for 715 yards and five scores, gone. However, there's enough quickness and athleticism to do more if the line can help the cause.
Unit Rating: 4.5


There's hope for a receiving corps that struggled way too often and didn't do enough to make big plays. With leading receiver Deion Walker gone, sophomore Tajae Sharpe needs to become the main man. The 6-2, 175-pounder caught 20 passes for 206 yards highlighted by a three game, 50-yard day in the win over Akron. He has good size and a physical style, but he needs to stretch the field a bit.

6-4, 205-pound sophomore Derek Beck is a big, strong target with decent quickness considering he's a tall, lanky receiver. He caught just three passes for 20 yards in his five games of action, but he's mature and skilled enough to turn into a go-to guy. Also looking to make a huge impact is 6-1, 180-pound sophomore Bernard Davis, a smooth, quick receiver out of Florida who caught six passes for 32 yards in his limited time. Smart and a good route runner, he'll start and could occasionally stretch the field.

Sophomore Elgin Long saw a little playing time right away, but he didn't exactly set the world on fire with -3 yards on his three catches. Extremely athletic, the 5-10, 189-pound former basketball star out of Texas can be used like a running back or a returner, while 5-10, 175-pound redshirt freshman Dalvin Battle will quickly find time in the rotation at all three spots. The Florida native can move, but he needs time.

6-4, 250-pound senior tight end Rob Blanchflower is the leading returning receiver, and he'll have to be a steadying factor after making 43 catches for 464 yards and two scores. Physical as well as strong as a pass catcher, he's reliable and doesn't make many big mistakes. He needs to be good for at least three catches a game.

Watch Out For … Shaquille Harris, a 6-2, 206-pounder out of Florida who could step off the bus and be the team's No. 1 receiver. A playmaker with deep ball skills, he's immediately going to be the team's most athletic and dangerous target.
Strength: Sophomores. It's going to be a work in progress. The receiving corps struggled with freshmen playing key roles last season, and now everyone has a little bit of time logged in. The potential is there for a big turnaround.
Weakness: Depth. This is a really, really thin group that needs a go-to guy and a few deep threats who can occasionally make defenses worry. The corps averaged just 9.4 yards per catch last year.
Outlook: Wait until 2014. The Minutemen have an interesting young group that's growing up together, but it'll have to come together in a big hurry to help out the anemic passing game. Blanchflower will help, but the backups have to emerge and the starting trio has to make the quarterback better, not the other way around.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Offensive Line

The line was a big problem last season in all phases, and it should be once again unless the starting five rocks. First, senior Vincent Westcarr has to come back and be 100% healthy and has to be consistent as the new starting left tackle. At 6-4 and 308 pounds he has the size, but he needs to be a rock in pass protection on one side, while 6-7, 302-pound senior Anthony Dima has to use his large frame and bulk to be nasty in pass protection. The former transfer from Hofstra started nine times, and with his athletic and skills he needs to be consistent.

Trying to anchor the line right away will be 6-5, 285-pound JUCO transfer Josh Bruns, a big bodied, ready-made center from Glendale Community College. Able to play center or guard, he'll work somewhere in the interior even though he started at left tackle.

With Michael Boland and Jamie Casselberry being forced to leave the team due to injury, it'll be a scramble at the guard spots. 6-5, 285-pound redshirt freshman Tyrell Smith is a good-sized athlete who need to find a starting spot somewhere up front. He'll get tried out at left guard, but he could see time at tackle. 6-2, 295-pound sophomore Al Leneus will also play around at both guard spots and will likely work on the right side. Still trying to figure out what he's doing, the former defensive tackle is physical, but still needing work.

Watch Out For … Jordan Page. Welcome to UMass, big guy. Now suit up and get in there. The 6-5, 300-pounder was a great recruit with terrific size and pass blocking skills. He's a ready-made left tackle who might need to play from the opening snap.
Strength: Size. No matter what the combination, this is a decent-sized front five with everyone hovering around 300 pounds. The bulk is there and the starting five should look the part.
Weakness: Depth. There isn't any. There might be several thin areas on the Minutemen, but no area is potentially weaker than the O line that has absolutely no margin for error when it comes to staying healthy.
Outlook: Uh oh. Is it possible that a painfully weak area could be even worse? Finding a starting five is going to be tricky enough, much less a viable two-deep. This is a very young, very rocky unit that has to find one thing it can do well – after first coming up with the starters.
Unit Rating: 4

- 2013 UMass Preview | 2013 UMass Offense
- 2013 UMass Defense | 2013 UMass Depth Chart