By SAM DONNELLY
UNH will be buzzing this fall, as students return and classes begin. As the heat of summer begins to dissipate, UNH sports will heat up once again. I love the fall for many reasons: reuniting with friends, the leaves changing, but more than any of that, I love the return of college football. UNH football, which reached the FCS semifinal last season, is attempting to fill some massive holes that were left by the departures of offensive weapons like RJ Harris, Nico Steriti, and Harold Spears. The trio combined for 40 touchdowns last season alone. With all three gone, spots have opened up for younger, less experienced guys to make a contribution.
At the wide receiver position, a lot of the pressure will fall on senior wide receiver Jared Allison, who totaled less than 300 yards receiving last year. Although he doesn’t possess the height or leaping ability of Harris, Allison had quick moves that will help him maneuver through the middle and find gaps in the defense. Allison is speedy and quick, and UNH head coach Sean McDonnell may even elect to use Allison out of the backfield.
At tight end, senior Jordan Powell will most likely get the nod to start on Sept. 3 at San Jose State. The 6-foot-3-inch Powell is a good blocker in both the running and passing games, but will be needed more in the receiving game with the loss of Spears, who was second on last year’s team with 56 receptions for 838 yards and four touchdowns. In 12 games last season, Powell recorded only three receptions for 25 yards. Only time will tell how well Powell can contribute, but he has the physical stature to add a good dimension to the Wildcats’ revamped offensive attack if he can get involved with quarterback Sean Goldrich.
The Wildcats don’t seem to truly have a running back to rely on. A healthy Dalton Crossan has been productive in the past and he will return to the Wildcats this season, but beyond him there isn’t much depth. It will be important for Crossan to stay healthy because the Wildcats have several inexperienced freshman thrust into an offense that is run heavy. Last year, Crossan deferred to seniors Jimmy Owens, who carried the ball 102 times for 647 yards and eight touchdowns, and Steriti, who logged 590 yards and 14 touchdowns on 136 carries.
There are plenty of questions with the offense. On the other side of the ball, not so much. The Wildcats return leading tackler Akil Anderson at linebacker and also CAA all-conference defensive back Casey DeAndrade, who was just named to several preseason All-American teams DeAndrade, senior cornerback Dougie Moss, senior safety Dan Rowe and sophomore Patrick Mensah will provide a strong secondary for this year’s team. Last year’s passing defense allowed just 143 yards through the air per game. But this year’s defense will need to be much stronger to help balance out an inecperienced offense.