Football Gameday Preview
No. 12 UNH takes on Colgate
Published: Friday, September 13, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2013 02:09
The UNH Wildcats take on the defending Patriot League champion Colgate Raiders in their home opener on Saturday at Cowell Stadium. Colgate has given up their first two games of the season while UNH fell 24-21 in their season debut to Central Michigan of the FBS last week.
The Wildcats come into this game with a slightly shaken up offense. Star wide receiver R.J. Harris broke his left hand against Central Michigan but will play on Saturday. At running back, Chris Setian and Jimmy Owens are out with knee injuries. Receiver Mike Detroia is still out with an arm injury as well.
Colgate’s biggest threat is senior quarterback Gavin McCarney. The Wildcat defense will have to contain McCarney on the ground while still protecting the pass options. McCarney earned 303 passing yards while also rushing for 95 yards last week against Albany. When facing a team with an offense similar to a wishbone or read-option scheme such as Colgate, open field one-on-one tackles are crucial and the Wildcats will have to win in those individual battles.
When UNH runs the football
In the 2012 season, the UNH offense was a well-balanced, efficient and highly-productive system. The Wildcats running game accounted for just about 50 percent of that productivity. Expect that to rollover into this season as well. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Jimmy Owens and Chris Setian, two big time contributing running backs, are out this weekend. Top running back Nico Steriti will cary the bulk of the workload with support from the quick-footed quarterback Andy Vailas. Dalton Crossan could also get some touches.
When UNH passes the football
Two weeks ago, Andy Vailas was named the starting quarterback for the Wildcats after a yearlong competion for the role with Sean Goldrich. Although Vailas has the title, head coach Sean McDonnell said Goldrich will have an opportunity for a drive in the game. With R.J. Harris’ role being limited because of a broken left hand, senior receiver Justin Mello could see some more balls thrown his way on Saturday. Mello pulled in five receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown against Central Michigan.
When Colgate runs the football
Similar to the Wildcats, Colgate splits their production pretty evenly between the run and the pass. Sophomore tailback John Wilkins is the Raiders strongest runner besides quarterback Gavin McCarney, but suffered a season-ending knee injury against Albany last Saturday. McCarney will be the primary target UNH defenders will focus on when it comes to ball movement on the ground. McCarney scored 23 rushing touchdowns last season and averaged 117 rushing yards per game.
When Colgate passes the football
The Raiders offense rests on the shoulders of Gavin McCarney. While on one hand he is a threat running the ball, McCarney is also keen to throwing the ball for big yards and touchdowns. Last season, McCarney threw 15 touchdown passes and averaged 197 passing yards per game. Last weekend’s game against Albany was McCarney’s second career 300-yard passing game. Senior receiver Dan Cason and junior tight end Kevin O’Connell are the top two players catching balls from McCarney. Colgate has scored only two passing touchdowns this season.
Impact Player: Manny Asam
With the departure of defensive anchors Matt Evans, Alan Buzbee and Jared Smith, senior Manny Asam is the leader of this new Wildcats defense. To say he has big shoes to fill is an understatement.
Last season, the Wildcats struggled with defending the running game and the rush is perhaps the strongest element of the Colgate offense. Asam will have to flex some muscle as a captain and rally the defensive players to hold the Colgate offense back.