#35 New Hampshire FCS Football 2019 Preview

New Hampshire Wildcats
Overall Rank: #35
#6 CAA
 New Hampshire Logo
Everything went wrong for New Hampshire last season. The program had made 14 straight playoff appearances until last year. And they did not just barely miss out; it was not even close. The Wildcats started 0-4 before beating Holy Cross. Then they lost two more just to put an end to any lingering hopes. Injuries hampered the entire campaign, but there were some promising signs when UNH beat Villanova, James Madison and Albany.
2018 Record: 4-7, 3-5
2018 Postseason: None
Coach: Sean McDonnell (154-95 at New Hampshire, 154-95 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ricky Santos
Defensive Coordinator: John Lyons
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Carlos Washington, RB, 582 yards
Passing: Tommy Herion, QB, 284 yards
Receiving: Carlos Washington, RB, 164 yards
Tackles: Quinlen Dean, LB, 79; Pop Lacey, S, 79
Sacks: Quinlen Dean, LB, 6.0
Interceptions: Evan Horn, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Evan Gray, CB Prince Smith, DE Brian Carter, CB Isiah Perkins, P Drew Sanborn
Key Losses: QB Trevor Knight, WR Neil O’Connor, WR Kieran Presley, S Rick Ellison, LB Jared Kuehl, DL Jae’Wuan Horton
Sophomore Tommy Herion, who threw for 284 yards as a freshman, is the only experienced quarterback in the mix to replace Trevor Knight. A handful of newcomers are expected to compete with Herion well into the fall. With receivers Neil O’Connor and Kieran Presley gone, whoever is under center will have to find some new targets. Those two combined for 104 receptions for 1,251 yards last season. Sophomore Sean Coyne was the most productive, catching 21 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Carlos Washington is a pretty good pass catcher too, but New Hampshire will need him and fellow running back Evan Gray to establish a productive ground game while the new look passing attack adjusts to life without Knight. Behind what is one of the most experienced offensive lines in the FCS, Washington should easily boost his 582 rushing yards of a season ago.
The defense played well despite the tough situation they were often put in during the 2018 season. The unit ranked 14th in the nation in total defense and this group could be just as productive. The front four really stepped it up during UNH’s late season surge and they will need to keep that going this season. A few key pieces are gone, but ends Josh Kania and Brian Carter have proven that they can get to the quarterback and Elijah Lewis is a nice piece to build around in the middle of the line. At linebacker Quinlen Dean is ready for a big senior season after tallying 79 tackles, 6.0 sacks and 14.0 tackles-for-loss in 2018. And then there is the secondary, which should give opposing teams nightmares. Pop Lacey is a sure tackling safety and Evan Horn is a ball hawk. With cornerbacks Prince Smith and Isiah Perkins also back, Lacey and Horn will have the liberty to make big plays and get the turnover margin the Wildcats’ favor.
The Bottom Line:
Everything seems set for a big rebound season. However, the Wildcats still have to stay healthy and navigate their way through an always difficult CAA schedule. After trips to Holy Cross and Florida International, UNH hosts Rhode Island, Duquesne and Elon. The contest against Elon will be a very telling game. A win there and New Hampshire should spend the campaign competing for a playoff spot. If they lose, it will be difficult to start a new playoff streak in 2019.
Projected Postseason: None
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 108.3 (104th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 174.8 (94, 10)
Total Offense: 283.1 (113, 11)
Scoring Offense: 17.8 (112, 11)
Rushing Defense: 128.7 (23, 5)
Pass Defense: 181.3 (16, 1)
Total Defense: 310.0 (14, 2)
Scoring Defense: 22.8 (28, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.09 (47, 5)
Sacks: 3.27 (5, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 3.36 (112, 11)