Sizing up the Wildcats

The New Hampshire Wildcats have reached the FCS playoff each year since 2004 under head coach Sean McDonnell.

Thomas Jilk

Unlike the Eagles, the New Hampshire football program remains in the FCS and plays in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Like the Eagles, though, they have been a perennial FCS powerhouse, making the playoffs in the lower subdivision for the past 13 seasons.

Recent History

Last season, the Wildcats lost in the second round of the FCS playoffs to eventual champion James Madison, but they have made the semifinals twice in the last five years.

This season, they began week one ranked No. 13 in the nation in the FCS, and they are predicted to finish fourth in their conference, which James Madison was predicted to win.

After winning the little-known-around-these-parts but coveted-in-those-parts Brice-Howell Musket by beating their rivals – the Maine Black Bears – last Thursday, the Wildcats are 1-0 to start the 2017 season.

Experienced Offense

Junior quarterback Trevor Knight is a playmaker and second-year starter who is relatively accurate downfield and can tuck and run when needed.

Sophomore running back Evan Gray and sophomore receiver Malik Love showed they are worthy replacements for recent productive departures from the UNH roster, as Love had 96 receiving yards against Maine and Gray had 74 rushing yards on 18 carries.

But Knight must be contained for the Eagles to slow down the UNH offense. Against Maine, he racked up 237 total yards (79 on the ground) and two touchdown passes.

GS head coach Tyson Summers described the UNH offense as “very multiple in what they do; very problematic in the things that they create on offense because of the quarterback’s ability to both run and throw.”

In a similar way as the Eagles did against Auburn, UNH struggled notably on third down, going 3-for-15 in that regard in their opening game.

Living Legend

UNH Head coach Sean McDonnell has led the program since 1999 and won two Eddie Robinson Awards given for the national coach of the year in the FCS.

He has been a coach at New Hampshire for 26 years, starting as the receivers and quarterbacks coach, then serving as offensive coordinator for four seasons before becoming the head man.

Summers called McDonnell “one of the top head coaches in all of college football.”

“They played last Thursday, so they’ll have a couple extra days of preparation,” Summers said.”