By Marty Dobrow, Globe Correspondent | October 14, 2006

AMHERST -- Liam Coen stood on the sideline, a portrait of serenity. His blond hair matted with sweat, his helmet to his hip, Coen soaked in the scene last Saturday: a sparkling autumn afternoon, a hint of crispness in the air, maples firing, almost 16,000 people in the stands, his father and grandfather among them.

His University of Massachusetts team was already up on William & Mary, 45-7, and Coen's work was done. It had been another day at the office, efficient and lethal. He had thrown the ball 17 times, completing 12, for 275 yards and a touchdown.

Coen had proved himself yet again a master of moving forward. Composed and quietly confident, he had dissected the Tribe defense. There was nothing he liked better than figuring out the geometry of the game -- looking at this stunt, that blitz, this package, and figuring out what to do. It was all about adaptation. Always, the question was: Given this, now what?