Saturday at 1 p.m.; Meade Stadium in Kingston, R.I.
UNH is 1-2; Rhode Island is 0-3
Keys to the game:
When the Rams visited Durham last fall the Wildcats got off to an extremely slow start, trailing 17-0 at the half. After coming out of the locker room, they flipped the script and rallied back to win 20-17. The beginnings of games have been an issue for UNH so far in 2016 as well. The ‘Cats have been outscored by their opponents 35-6 in the first quarter so far this year, with the opponent scoring first in each contest. The Wildcat offense has struggled in the final quarter as well, scoring just one of their seven offensive touchdowns in the first and fourth quarters combined.
Through three games, the Wildcats have averaged over two turnovers a game. As a team they’ve lost three fumbles and thrown four interceptions, the most costly of which sparked the Dartmouth comeback last week. Rhode Island has forced four turnovers so far this season, and will try to add to it on Saturday afternoon.
UNH rushing attack
The Wildcat rushing game disappointed last week at Dartmouth, accumulating a mere 123 yards on the ground. Crossan ran for 45 yards on 12 carries while junior running back Trevon Bryant added 38 yards on 5 carries. URI has struggled against the run this year allowing an average of 222.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks last in the CAA and allows the Wildcats a big opportunity to get the running game back on track.
UNH passing offense
With senior wide receiver Kyon Taylor (torn ACL) out for the season and sophomore wide receiver Rory Donovan’s (hamstring) status in question for Saturday, the Wildcats are looking far down the depth chart for playmakers. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Malik Love has emerged as sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight’s favorite target, leading the team with 16 receptions and 130 yards through three games. Crossan will also be a factor in the passing game, ranking second on the team with 14 receptions.
Rhode Island rushing attack
Rhode Island has rushed for an average of 138 yards per game through three games. Junior running back T.J. Anderson leads the Rams with 40 carries for 179 yards on the season. Sophomore quarterback Wesley McKoy has been replaced by senior Paul Mroz the last two games and is expected to have lost the starting job for this week against the Wildcats, but when McKoy is on the field he is a threat with his legs.
Rhode Island passing offense
Three different quarterbacks have taken snaps for the Rams this year, but Mroz is expected to get the start against UNH. All Rhode Island passers have struggled in their previous contests, combining for 131 yards passing per game, two touchdowns and a 36.5 percent completion percentage. The playmaker on the outside for the Rams is sophomore wide receiver Khayri Denny. He leads URI with 128 yards receiving and should expect to see a lot of senior cornerback Casey DeAndrade.
Impact Player: Jared Kuehl
After a 10-tackle performance in the season opener against San Diego State, Kuehl has emerged as a playmaker at linebacker for the UNH defense. Kuehl is tied with senior captain Ryan Farrell for fourth on the team with a total of 15 tackles through three games. With Farrell and fellow senior linebacker DeVaughn Chollette combining for 260 career tackles, it can be tough to find snaps in a base two-linebacker defense. However, Kuehl’s play has made it extremely difficult for head coach Sean McDonnell to keep him off the field.
The New Hampshire native’s 61-yard interception return for a touchdown last week against intrastate rival Dartmouth displayed his ability to play the pass as well as the run. Don’t expect Kuehl’s first career start to come on Saturday, but expect the sophomore to be flying around making plays when he’s on the field.