It’s about that time again. With a new stadium and video board set for the 2016 season, The University of New Hampshire football team will take the field August 8 for their preseason practices. Heading into camp there are a few sizable question marks surrounding the team. For the Wildcats to start their season stronger than they did last year, they will need to address these issues and fast because their opening game on the road at San Diego State less than a month away on Sept. 3.
- Who steps up in place of Powell?
The Wildcats will be forced to play their first six games without All-CAA tight end Jordan Powell who led the Wildcats in receiving yards (461) and receiving touchdowns (5) last season. Behind him, the Wildcat tight ends on roster have combined for just two catches totally 17 yards and no touchdowns. The receiving void Powell leaves is immense, so head coach Sean McDonnell may look to a blocking tight end to take his place, like Nick Derocher. Other names to look out for are Matt Torrey and Brendan Hill. Moving into camp it seems like tight end will be a position filled by an array of players, but look for one guy to come out on top and playing a majority of the snaps for the Wildcats. With a talented group of running backs, look for it to be the tight end can meet linebackers at the point of attack and block effectively.
- Do the wide receivers have a leader and can they develop depth?
UNH seems to have a stable of capable running backs led by Dalton Crossan, but the question mark comes in the form of a viable receiver. Senior Kyon Taylor, who only played the back half of last season, will most likely be the No. 1 guy headed into camp. He finished 2015 with 31 catches for 358 yard and two touchdowns. The question becomes can he do it for an entire season? Behind Taylor, the Wildcats are untested for the most part. Sophomore Rory Donovan, who stands at 6-5, gives the Wildcats a viable red zone threat and outside option. Despite his potential, Donovan remains untested. McDonnell said to keep an eye on freshman Malik Love who has impressed coaches during spring practices. How much can you expect from a freshman who hasn’t played a true snap of college ball yet? Not a lot, but it’s worth watching this young receiving core grow.
- Can the Wildcats improve upon their run defense up front?
The Wildcats ranked dead last in the CAA for overall run defense in 2015-16, allowing 199.3 yards against them per game. They also lost the core of the defensive line in Julian Turner to graduation and now are without sophomore Cyrus Boone who suffered a foot injury in the spring that may keep him out the entire season. Needless to say, the center of the Wildcat defense is thin. UNH will need guys who have barely seen game time to step up and perform quickly. One of those guys will be sophomore Ryan Sosnak, who tallied a half a sack and a half a tackle for loss for -10 yards combined. Despite his lack of production, McDonnell think Sosnak had a strong spring and is ready to step into a larger role. With the lack of depth on the interior defensive line, a lot of run support will need to come from by linebackers like Ryan Ferrell and DeVaughn Chollette.