Amid the Wildcats two-year playoff drought, they are expected to once again make some noise in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and add another playoff appearance to Sean McDonnell’s resume. UNH has entered the rankings at No. 15 and No. 17 in the Athlon and HERO Sports Preseason Top-25 polls after only reaching the 22nd spot in 2019.
The team had to say goodbye to a handful of talent on both sides of the ball, but the program has a reason to believe they can climb even higher than they did just one season ago. UNH has welcomed back head coach Sean McDonnell, the winningest coach in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), who also has the most playoff appearances in the FCS. Second-year quarterback Max Brosmer will also head into 2020 with a year of experience under his belt and a young, talented offense around him.
Coach Mac is back in the saddle after a one-year hiatus where Ricky Santos took the role of interim head coach. McDonnell holds an all-time record of 154-95 as head coach of the Wildcats.
Brosmer explained how Santos excelled at connecting with the players in 2019 and for being as successful as he was being put in such a tough position. He also noted that Mac is the rock of the program and will command the respect of the voters like the polls have shown to this point.
“Mac is the root of UNH football. There’s a different feeling when he walks into the locker room and onto the field. It’s that effect that he has on us that gives UNH football a different view in the voters eyes.”
Brosmer was recently named the Male Rookie of the Year at the 2020 UNH Senior Showcase. The Georgia native was forced to learn quickly last season as he was thrown into the fire just two quarters into his first season – he proved to be up for the task. He was named the CAA Rookie of the Week twice and helped lead the Wildcats into the national rankings multiple times in 2019.
UNH said goodbye to their leading rusher and pass catcher from last season with the likes of Evan Gray and Malik Love graduating this spring. The absence of Gray and Love will be noticed; however, some of the team’s most talented offensive weapons still remain heading into next season.
UNH will welcome back two-thirds of their three-headed running back monster from a year ago. Junior Carlos Washington Jr. fell just short of the team rushing title with 601 yards. In an open field, there aren’t many guys who make defenders miss quite like Washington.
Sophomore Dylan Laube is also a part of this group and may be one of the more versatile players in the conference. Laube rushed for 285 yards and averaged 23.28 yards on kick returns; perhaps his most impressive numbers came as a receiver though. He was second on the team in receiving behind Love averaging nearly 15 yards per catch, and 41 yards per game. The dual-threat back totaled 412 receiving yards and hauled in four touchdowns in 2019.
Along with the running backs, two of the top-three wide receivers will be returning to Durham this season. Junior Brian Espanet and sophomore Charles Briscoe III will head the wide receiver unit this fall. Espanet led the team in receiving touchdowns with five and Briscoe ranked third in yards per catch at 12.42.
The defense won’t be as lucky when they return to camp in the summer. The unit has lost five defensive starters as well as a senior captain. Among those who won’t return include Prince Smith Jr., Isiah Perkins, Pop Lacey, Cameron Brusko, Josh Kania and Michael Balsamo. These players helped lead their group to the second-best scoring defense in the conference only allowing 20.1 points per game.
After a season where the defense handled much of the load en route to a 6-5 record, the roles may be reversed this time around. Despite featuring the lowest scoring offense in the CAA in 2019, Brosmer remains confident that the offense will be equipped to handle more a of responsibility this season if they are called upon.
While he agreed the skill positions will be key, he specifically praised his offensive line and how excited he is to play behind them.
“Coach Miller has been doing a really great job with them, I’ve been joining their meetings,” explained Brosmer. “I’m excited to get back with them … we’re going to be scoring a bunch of points this year.”
In addition to an extra year of experience for Brosmer and his cast, he has been working with some of the best in the business to help make gains in his own game. Brosmer has been taking part in quarterback camps over the past year with his personal coach, Quincy Avery. The sophomore has been working alongside the likes of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, former second round draft pick DeShone Kizer and 2020 Heisman Trophy frontrunner Justin Fields of Ohio State.
Brosmer explained how training with Fields, who comes from one of the most notable FBS schools in the nation, has helped push him to become a better player.
“He gives me something to look at and compare myself to,” explained Brosmer. “The throws he’s making, I’ve got to be able to make those throws too. He provides a lot of good insight defensively as well…just seeing the field through his eyes really provides a good look for me”
The Wildcat admitted that he struggled with reading defenses and knowing exactly where the ball needs to go as a first-year quarterback. This specifically is something that Brosmer is hoping to tighten up in his game and has been studying film to make sure he’s ready to go for week one at the University of Kansas.
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