DURHAM, N.H. – University of New Hampshire (UNH) football last took the field 15 months ago when they took down Maine in the final game of 2019 to take back the Brice-Cowell Musket. Today, the Wildcats prepare to kick-off their six-game season under the lights of Wildcat Stadium on Friday night. The team will welcome UAlbany into Durham for week one of the 2021 slate. This will also be the first time since fall of 2018 that head coach Sean McDonnell will be under the headset for the Wildcats; McDonnell missed all of 2019 while on medical leave. 

During his mid-week press conference, McDonnell explained how he hasn’t had much time to let the nervous energy of his first game back sink in yet. He said he’s been more focused on trying to get players back on the practice field and following protocols. 

He went on to explain how different preparations have been for this season compared to their normal routine of spring and summer camp before the fall season. 

“We’re in school right now. Usually from that first week of August to the first week of September you’ve got football-101. You eat, drink and sleep football,” said McDonnell. “The great thing about that is that you get to see the kids and you get to bond with the kids.” 

McDonnell noted his concern due to the lack of live action this year compared to a normal camp for his team. 

“I got off the phone with Chip [Kelly] this morning, and we were talking about how there’s a little angst in my stomach because we haven’t had the two or three scrimmages leading up to this,” he said.  

As for the roster, the head coach explained that he thinks his running backs are going to be the lead unit on the offensive side of the ball. McDonnell thinks it could be easier for sophomore Dylan Laube and junior Carlos Washington Jr. this year without Evan Gray in the mix. He noted that sometimes it can be tough to get each guy their touches with a three-man backfield. 

The wide receiving corps is also a unit that the team has confidence in ahead of their season. The group headlined by junior Brian Espanet and sophomore Charles Briscoe III is finally getting back healthy. McDonnell is particularly excited about some of the other players on the depth chart. He thinks that position is “solid” with some of the lesser-known names supplementing his top-two wideouts. 

“Sean Coyne has come back from his year off. He’s had a terrific fall and spring,” McDonnell explained.  

The team also thinks their defense can still be a strength just as it was in 2019. McDonnell explained how he thinks his team will go as far as their front-four on defense can take them. He also expressed confidence in his linebackers and safeties. 

UAlbany is a team that McDonnell thinks could present a lot of problems on the offensive side of the ball with redshirt sophomore quarterback Jeff Undercuffler and senior running back Karl Mofor. He raved about Undercuffler’s ability to push the ball downfield and even went as far as to compare Mofor to Le’Veon Bell. 

UNH lost to the Great Danes in 2019 by a final of 24-17. In that game Undercuffler threw for 199 yards and one touchdown, while completing 16-of-27 passes. Mofor gashed the Wildcats for 107 yards and two scores on 20 attempts.  

Sophomore quarterback Max Brosmer threw for 142 yards and threw two interceptions in the loss. 

The two sides will kick-off from Wildcat Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Wildcats will welcome Delaware into Durham on March 20 following a bye week after their opening game. 

Photo courtesy of Cameron Beall/ TNH Staff.