After two impressive wins over Connecticut State University and Elon, it seems like the Wildcats are back in the driver’s seat. Although they won two games, those games told us nothing about this team’s identity. Luckily, this week the Wildcats have a chance to prove that they belong at the top of the FCS. The question to me is simple: can the Wildcats win on the road? If the answer is yes, William & Mary could be a season-defining win. If the answer is no, UNH fans could be in for a long season.
Tuesday afternoon, a source close to the team told me Sean Goldrich is ready to go this week after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. The only issue is, in his absence, Adam Riese accounted for 362 yards, three touchdowns, a 68 percent completion rating and, most importantly, two decisive wins. Is there a quarterback controversy? I think this team is Goldrich’s, but that means it is also his to lose.
Quarterback is not the only question mark with this team headed into the game in Virginia. The Wildcat defense currently ranks 11th out of the 12 teams in the CAA in total defense. UNH is also 8th in passing defense, allowing 230 yards per game. The defense has struggled. They played well against CCSU and Elon, but those games were at home. At Stony Brook and San Jose State the Wildcat defense allowed 1,104 yards of total offense. William and Mary ranks third in the CAA in total offense with just over 400 yards per game. In order for the Wildcats to win they need to get to Tribe quarterback Steve Cluley, who has thrown just one interception to eight touchdown passes this season. If the Wildcats can put significant pressure on Cluley, they should be able to force William and Mary into a few turnovers.
The keys on offense are pretty straightforward: get Goldrich comfortable, get Dalton Crossan the ball, get whatever you can out of this receiving core and don’t turn the ball over. It’s that simple. Goldrich needs to regain his confidence. I would look for short routes by Jordan Powell. I would run the ball with Crossan to take pressure off of Goldrich and allow the game to come to him. As for his receivers, lets just hope they can get open. Not ONE Wildcat receiver averages over 30 yards per game. They don’t have a deep threat. UNH doesn’t have one completion over 40 yards this season. Their slot receiver, Jared Allison, is nowhere to be found. Allison, who was supposedly supposed to help fill the void left by RJ Harris, has just 115 yards receiving, averages 23 yards per game and only has one receiving touchdown. The Wildcats need him, not just in this game, but the rest of the year. Finally, the Wildcats cannot turn the ball over. William and Mary is a tough place to play. It becomes tougher when you turn the ball over because the Tribe’s offense can make you pay. If the Wildcats can keep the ball and have long drives, they have a chance.
The Wildcats have enough problems within their own team, but now they have to look at William and Mary. On Tuesday, UNHInsider tweeted that this is a battle of 3-2 teams. That might be each team’s record, but they don’t seem to be in the same place.  The Tribe went to Virginia, a team who played both UCLA and Notre Dame deep into the fourth quarter, and lost by just a touchdown. They beat Stony Brook 21-0. Stony Brook throttled the Wildcats 31-6. I am not one to make the “look who they beat, so they must be better” argument, but it’s clear William and Mary has played better competition and hung with with that competition. At least on paper, it would be hard for anyone to pick the Wildcats.
If UNH can control the ball on offense and get off the field on third down, they have a shot. For now, it seems to me that William and Mary might be too much. Can the Wildcats win? Yes. Could they get blown out? Definitely.

Executive Editor