Football: Wildcats back at it with spring practices
The UNH football team started their spring practices last week, and the team is excited to finally be back on the football field.
"It's definitely a good feeling," quarterback Sean Goldrich said. "It's been a while since we actually had the pads on and stuff. A long winter definitely, but it feels good to be back with all the guys, running around flying around on the field."
"They're excited," head coach Sean McDonnell said. "Kids are working to get better, kids are trying new ideas, kids are getting an opportunity to show how much they've improved from last fall."
A big part of the spring season is incorporating the three new coaches into the system, hired this year as a result of the departure of defensive coaches Jon Shelton, Art Link and Chris Van Horn.
Peter McCarty, who has 30 years coaching experiencing in collegiate football, including stops at Stanford, Maryland and Syracuse, goes way back with McDonnell. The two clashed in their college football years, McDonnell for UNH and McCarty for the University of Massachusetts.
"Peter McCarty," McDonnell said. "A longtime friend since we played against each other at the University of Massachusetts. Awful lot of experience at a lot of different places. Terrific D-line coach, and he's got some big shoes that Jon Shelton left, but I'm looking forward to his experience and expertise to do it."
Garrett Gillick also has a history with McDonnell. He gave McDonnell trouble as a defensive edge rusher for the University of Maine in the late 1990's. He spent the last three years coaching at Bentley, where he coached the defensive line.
"Garrett [Gillick], who is our linebacker coach, he takes over for Art Link," McDonnell said. "We played against Garrett when he was at Maine, he was a real tough, tough, hard-nosed football player ... He was coaching at Bentley for the last couple of years, and did a terrific job down there, so, looking forward to having him aboard, bringing his knowledge of the position, having played it, and the toughness that he brings to it."
Kyle McAllister, who was an intern last season, has been named the assistant defensive line coach.
As far as new faces among players, Goldrich said he's excited to be working with a variety of younger wide receivers that are trying to make the next step in their collegiate careers.
"First couple of days you had a lot of new faces in there, and now we're starting to get used to the guys, know where they're going to be, you know, and the system," Goldrich said.
Among the younger receivers Goldrich talked about were Aaron Lewis-Cenales, who was redshirted in 2013, Anthony Pante, a sophomore who is in his third year in Durham, redshirted his first year, and Kyon Taylor, who played in 12 regular season games in 2013.
One of the most exciting players among the younger Wildcats is Dalton Crossan. As a freshman he totaled 930 all-purpose yards and scored six touchdowns. He was also an important piece of the playoff run in December. Both Goldrich and McDonnell said he's continued to impress.
"I'm actually really excited to be playing with [Crossan]," Goldrich said. "He did some great things last year... as a freshman, you didn't know what he was going to be able to do. It's new to him, it's a new speed of the game. But he stepped up and made some big plays, so he's only getting better as long as he stays healthy along with the rest of the backs. We're going to have a pretty good backfield."
"Dalton Crossan has done a nice job. He continues to improve," McDonnell said. "[He] is making reads in the runs, catching the football and pass protecting."
McDonnell also cited center Tim Johnson and offensive lineman George Kallas as players showing improvement.
"I thought Timmy Johnson and the offensive line had three solid practices. I thought George Kallas was getting a little bit better," McDonnell said. "Timmy Johnson snapping the ball, blocking his guys, getting up to the second level, different positions have different things."
Some players, like DeAndrade and Cam Shorey remain injured and are rehabilitating during the spring season. McDonnell said they're in no danger of missing any games in 2014.
"All will be fine by next fall," McDonnell said.
The Wildcats continue to practice until May 3, when they play the blue-on-white game, a practice game in which the Wildcats split into two different squads and play a scrimmage in front of their families and fans at Cowell Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
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