#19 New Hampshire FCS Football 2016 Preview

New Hampshire Wildcats
Overall Rank: #19
#4 CAA
New Hampshire had to work very hard at the end of the 2015 campaign to extend their playoff streak to 12 years in a row. Sitting at 3-4, the Wildcats beat Rhode Island, Richmond, Albany and Maine to finish the regular season at 7-4 and get a playoff berth. The Wildcats did not do much in the playoffs, losing to Colgate at home in the first round, but the streak continues and Coach Sean McDonnell and company will look to make a bigger run this time around.
2015 Record: 7-5, 5-3
2015 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Sean McDonnell (133-78 at New Hampshire, 133-78 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ryan Carty
Defensive Coordinator: John Lyons
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dalton Crossan, RB, 885 yards
Passing: Adam Riese, QB, 513 yards
Receiving: Jordan Powell, TE, 461 yards
Tackles: Casey DeAndrade, CB, 76
Sacks: Cam Shorey, DE, 7.5
Interceptions: Patrick Mensah, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Trevon Bryant, WR Kyon Taylor, DE Jae’Wuan Horton, LB Ryan Farrell
Key Losses: QB Sean Goldrich, WR Jared Allison, WR Amechie Walker, OL Austin Heter, S Hayden Knudson, LB Akil Anderson, CB Dougie Moss, CB Lamar Edmonds, DT Jullian Turner
New Hampshire is known for their offense, but this year it could be the defense that carries this team back to the playoffs. The unit was strong against the pass and created plenty of turnovers last season and now they will look to boost their rush defense. It will still be the secondary that is the best unit though. Casey DeAndrade is one of the best cornerbacks in the FCS and led the team with 76 tackles and ten pass breakups last season. Patrick Mensah will take advantage of the opportunities when the opposition avoids DeAndrade’s side of the field. Ryan Farrell will have to turn into the new leader of the linebackers. He can make big plays and recorded 3.0 sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries last season. Getting to the quarterback is a big reason why the pass defense is so good and that should continue this year. Along with Farrell’s ability to get into the backfield, defensive ends Cam Shorey and Jae’Wuan Horton are proven pass rushers too. Shorey led the team with 7.5 sacks last season and Horton added 3.5.
It is rare for New Hampshire to have questions at quarterback. Over the years they have had some of the best quarterbacks in the conference. Sean Goldrich was one of them, but he is gone now. The good news is that both Adam Riese and Trevor Knight got some playing time last season when Goldrich was injured. Riese, a senior, threw for 513 yards and six touchdowns and is certainly the more experienced option. Knight threw just 19 passes during his freshman campaign, but he is more dangerous with his legs. Top receiver Jared Allison needs to be replaced too. Kyon Taylor should emerge as the top wide receiver and the new quarterback will have tight end Jordan Powell to work with as well. Running back Dalton Crossan is a great pass catcher out of the backfield too. He caught 46 passes for 341 yards and three scores on top of his 885 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. The offense may need to rely more on the ground game, especially early in the season while the new quarterback settles into his role. With Trevon Bryant providing quality depth behind Crossan, UNH has enough weapons to keep the ball on the ground as much as they need to.
The Bottom Line:
It seems likely that the offense will eventually be the usual balanced New Hampshire attack. They may run more at first, but sooner or later the Wildcats will have a good enough passing game to keep the opposition honest. The CAA is never easy, but the schedule could have been a lot worse. New Hampshire does not play Richmond and both William & Mary and James Madison come to Durham.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 146.9 (68th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 211.8 (53, 4)
Total Offense: 358.8 (73, 5)
Scoring Offense: 23.9 (73, 4)
Rushing Defense: 199.3 (93, 12)
Pass Defense: 191.3 (32, 4)
Total Defense: 390.7 (68, 9)
Scoring Defense: 22.0 (37, 6)
Turnover Margin: 0.50 (26, 3)
Sacks: 2.58 (25, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.17 (70, 8)
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#112 Jelani Greene
#164 Alonzo Addae