Depth on defensive line strong point for UMass football http://w w w .masslive.com/umassfootball/index.ssf/2012/08/depth_on_defensive_line_strong.html
August 20, 2012
Michael Beswick AMHERST — Since before camp began, University of Massachusetts football coach Charley Molnar has said the defensive line is the place on his roster with the most depth. Nothing he’s seen over the past two-plus weeks has changed that. Led by experienced players like senior Charles “Chaz” Thompson (11 starts in 2011) and junior Kevin Byrne (eight 2011 starts), and their unstoppable force of a coach Dave Sollazzo, the big men up front will be a strength for UMass in their first season in the Mid-American Conference and the Football Bowl Subdivision. “These guys are all playing really good football,” Molnar said of his defensive line. “The competition — I don’t know who the first four will be, they’ll all play so much, I think that’s almost irrelevant.” Sollazzo said that Thompson and junior Galen Clemons are the starters at defensive tackle. They’ll be flanked by sophomore Stanley Andre and Byrne at defensive end. UMass defensive lineman Brandon Potvin listens to Assistant Head Coach Dave Sollazzo at practice. “Those four guys have really kept the discipline as far as executing the defense,” Sollazzo said.
But depth on the defensive line, especially in the era of so many no-huddle offenses, is extremely important. “I like to have, as I refer to it, a pair and a spare.” Sollazzo said. “Four defensive tackles for two positions for and a spare guy. Four defensive ends for two positions and a spare guy.” Notre Dame transfer Hafis Williams, junior Brandon Potvin, sophomores Ryan Delaire and Daniel Maynes, redshirt freshman Trey Seals and even true freshman Robert Kitching will likely see plenty of playing time behind the four starters. Thompson and Byrne described the defensive line as a tight-knit group, spending plenty of time together off the field as well as on it. “We just like to be around each other,” Thompson said. “We know each other’s personalities and we just bond.” Bonding apparently includes frequent practical jokes, usually involving cars or car keys — Clemons and Delaire “go at it all the time,” according to Byrne. “All of the above,” Byrne said, when asked what kind of jokes the line was up to. “A lot of just messing with each other’s cars and making the alarms go off.” M OLNAR SEES PROGRESS
Molnar said that the past two days of practice have been the best he’s seen since he arrived in Amherst. “We had a great scrimmage yesterday. From an intensity and an execution standpoint, by far the best we’ve had since we’ve been here,” he said. “Today we came back again this morning, the guy’s could have been tired — we’re giving them the day off tomorrow — they could have been looking ahead, but they came out and had another really, really sharp practice.” Molnar also said that he is continuing to see improvement from his newly appointed starting quarterback, Mike Wegzyn. “Yesterday he started off the scrimmage I think he was 9-for-10. Then today, we gave him some challenging plays down in the red zone, but his leadership, his understanding, his execution, right now they’re at an all-time high,” Molnar said. “Unless a disaster occurs, he’ll be our starter.”