UMass learning there are no shortcuts

Of all the things UMass must do to make its transition to Division I-A a success, keeping things in proper perspective may be the most important.

The Minutemen must remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that no matter how badly they wish they could speed up the process and get to the end goal of being a successful Football Bowl Subdivision team, it is going to take time. A long time, probably.

So for now, new head coach Charley Molnar is charged with keeping the Minutemen focused on the little details. The big picture is just too big to see all at once.

“I would like to think we could measure our progress in big steps,” he said in his weekly conference call with reporters on Monday, “but right now we have to find small things to measure our progress by.”

UMass lost its home opener 45-6 to Indiana on Saturday, falling to 0-2 in its first season on the FBS level.

“Offensively we controlled the ball better than we did the previous game,” Molnar said. “After two weeks we have only one turnover and no fumbles, so from that standpoint I think we’re doing better. We protected the quarterback better than we did last week [against UConn].

“Defensively it seems like we took a step back, because we gave up a ton of points and yardage, but we see some guys really playing hard,” he added.

Those are the types of things that Molnar and his staff will have to highlight for the Minutemen, the majority of whom are still working to get themselves physically and mentally ready to play at this level.

There are seven teams in the country that have started their seasons with consecutive games against BCS conference schools, and UMass is one of them. So while the Minutemen are 0-2, they can at least say the losses came against worthy opponents.

Molnar is trying hard to keep both the small and big pictures in mind at once.

“I think as a head coach I’m looking at everything,” he said. “I’m looking at short-term, I’m looking at day-to-day development of the players and team. I’m looking at year to year and also where is this program going to be five years from now and 10 years from now.

“I’ve got my hands on these players every day and looking at how we are going to develop this team, not only for the next opponent but also for 2013 and 2014. That’s a real challenge, but that’s what makes the job so fun.”

That’s the kind of attitude the Minutemen will have to work hard to sustain this season, since the challenges won’t get any easier.

Next up for UMass: Michigan.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.