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QB Mike Wegzyn improved and eager for second year as UMass starter

Mike Wegzyn, left, and Logan Laurent of the University of Massachusetts have fun during media day Tuesday at McGuirk Stadium.
JERREY ROBERTS

Mike Wegzyn, left, and Logan Laurent of the University of Massachusetts have fun during media day Tuesday at McGuirk Stadium. JERREY ROBERTS

By MATT VAUTOUR @GazetteUMass
Sunday, August 25, 2013
(Published in print: Monday, August 26, 2013)

But even without the stat line, QBs are tied to a team’s fortunes. Nobody talks about changing the left guard or middle linebacker to shake things up when things go wrong.

So coming off last year’s 1-11 season, University of Massachusetts quarterback Mike Wegzyn knows the Minutemen’s performance going forward will be tied to him.

“That’s the nature of the beast. When you play quarterback everything is your fault whether it’s good or it’s bad,” he said. “You have to know that going into it. Anything you hear good or bad, you just let it flow off. The best thing you can do at quarterback is be calm and level-headed. Not get rattled or too high or too low.”

While his play was erratic at times last year, Molnar said his ability to stay even was Wegzyn’s biggest asset.

“That’s his personality. He’s resilient. Even in some of the lowest moments that we had, he was always up beat, always working to get better,” Molnar said. “He came in every day, watched film and did a lot of work on his own, no matter what the result of Saturday’s game was.”

Wegzyn said it’s a combination of his natural temperament and a conscious effort.

“I’d like to say it’s in my nature, but I’ve grown every single year that I’ve played,” he said.

“The first year really helped me learn to play under the spotlight,” Wegzyn added. “Losing a game, I’m going to be upset. There’s no two ways about it. I don’t go into any game expecting not to win. It’s hard to sleep. I go through, what I could have done, what I should have done, how I could have impacted the game differently.”

Wegzyn was the surprise starter headed into the 2012 season when returning starter Kellen Pagel’s concussion symptoms ended his football career. Wegzyn’s hold on the job always seemed a bit tenuous. He was a holdover recruit from former coach Kevin Morris and true freshman quarterback A.J. Doyle was the first player to commit after Molnar was hired.

Wegzyn completed 182 of 346 passes for 1,825 yards and six touchdowns and was intercepted 10 times. He showed promise at times in games against Ohio, Miami (Ohio) and the win over Akron. But when Molnar elected to start Doyle in the season finale against Central Michigan, it looked like Wegzyn’s days as the starter might be over.

But after a winter of lifting weights and watching game film, Wegzyn came back stronger and more prepared. He outplayed Doyle in the spring and held on to the starting spot through camp. As he’s prepared to be under center Saturday when the Minutemen travel to Wisconsin, his teammates have noticed improvement.

“I definitely see a more confident Mike Wegzyn, on the field, in the locker room, everywhere,” said sophomore Tajae Sharpe, who will start at wide receiver. “He’s a lot more confident in his skill set and the guys around him.”

Molnar said the players are looking to Wegzyn to lead.

“It’s a lot easier to have confidence in him because he’s performing better. Generally, guys that are your leaders are guys that have performed to some level,” Molnar said. “As he makes more and more plays in practice guys have responded to him better.”

Wegzyn said last year’s struggles have both motivated and educated him.

“It was good to see I’ve improved. I spent more time in the film room than a lot of people would have liked. I’m glad I can see improvement from it and know that I’m getting stuff out of what I’m doing. That just makes me want to continue on that path and keep moving forward,” he said. Coming off last year, there’s a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. We’re going to hit the field running. Last year doesn’t reflect how I, or anyone on the team, can, will and should play. Success isn’t sweet without failure. If there’s not something bad, you wouldn’t know how good something is.”

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