Saturday at 7 p.m.;
Wildcat Stadium in Durham, N.H.
UNH is 0-1; Holy Cross is 1-0
The Scouting Report:
It’s no secret that the UNH football team’s run defense was a weakness last year. They allowed 199 rushing yards per game last season, ranking them last in the Colonial Athletic Association conference. Meanwhile, the Crusaders of Holy Cross rushed for 258 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in their Week 1 victory over Morgan State, 51-24.
However, they also have a very capable passing game led by senior Peter Pujals. Pujals has started at least eight games every year he’s been at Holy Cross, while also being chosen as captain for the last three. The dynamic duo in the backfield for the Crusaders is junior Diquan Walker and senior Gabe Guild. The Wildcats need to be prepared no matter who is carrying the ball.
In the opener, sophomore linebacker Jared Kuehl and freshman Rick Ellison led the team with 10 tackles each. They, as well as other young guys, need to step up and make Holy Cross become a one-dimensional team.
Dalton Crossan Cam Shorey
UNH rushing attack
The UNH running game revolves around their senior running back that rushed for over 800 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2015, Dalton Crossan. Crossan was held very quiet last week in San Diego but has a veteran offensive line to believe in. Redshirt freshman Nick Velte is the lone inexperienced man on a line that is anchored by three seniors. Other weapons the ‘Cats will look to utilize in the ground attack are Trevon Bryant, Evan Gray and quarterback Trevor Knight.
UNH passing offense
The Wildcats struggled to complete passes last week, completing seven on 20 attempts between Knight and Riese. With 2015 leading receiver tight end Jordan Powell suspended for the meantime, look for senior wide receiver Kyon Taylor as well as Dalton Crossan to be a constant fixture in the passing game. Meanwhile, other receivers such as Neil O’Connor and Anthony Pante try to emerge as that number two threat.
Holy Cross rushing attack
The Crusaders run game is diverse, with three different players rushing for over 65 yards against Morgan State. Not knowing who or where it is coming from is what is tough. Pujals has shown to be a dual threat quarterback, very capable of extending plays with his legs or taking a designed run for a first down. With run defense being an issue for UNH last year it’s important that the whole team pitches in to stop the Walker-Guild-Pujals rushing attack.
Holy Cross passing offense
In his career at Holy Cross Peter Pujals has thrown for over 8,000 yards and 61 touchdowns over four seasons of starting action. On the other side, two-time All-CAA cornerback Casey DeAndrade leads this secondary’s attempt to stop Pujals. The Crusaders trust Pujals with the ball in his hands, as they will have him throwing often. In 2015, Holy Cross passed an average of 45.5 times a game and with 38 attempts in week one they aren’t shying away in 2016.
Impact Player: Kyon Taylor
After a quiet season opener out west, the Wildcats will need a bigger impact out of senior wide receiver Kyon Taylor. While only appearing in six games last season, Taylor accumulated 31 catches for 358 yards and two touchdown catches.
With tight end Jordan Powell suspended, somebody needs to step up and be Trevor Knight’s number one option and Taylor will have the opportunity. A sophomore quarterback making his second start needs reliable guys on the outside to make an impact. That reliable option was missing in week one but back in the comfort of Durham, Taylor could be that guy.
Taylor will look to build on his three catch, 15-yard first game performance in the long-awaited debut of Wildcat Stadium.