#4 New Hampshire FCS Football 2014 Preview

New Hampshire Wildcats

Overall Rank: #4
#1 CAA

New Hampshire Team Page#4 New Hampshire FCS Football 2014 PreviewBuy New Hampshire Football Tickets

New Hampshire was sitting at 1-3 in October and that was not the start this team was hoping for. Then Coach Sean McDonnell rallied his troops and the Wildcats finished the regular season winning six of their last seven contests. That included wins over Villanova and a season finale 24-3 victory over Maine with a playoff spot on the line. In the playoffs, New Hampshire beat Lafayette 45-7 at home, before upsetting Maine and Southeastern Louisiana to reach the semifinals. The Wildcats did not put up much of a fight against North Dakota State in the semifinals, but few teams did.

2013 Record: 10-5, 6-2
2013 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Sean McDonnell (104-66 at New Hampshire, 104-66 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ryan Carty
Defensive Coordinator: John Lyons

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Nico Steriti, RB, 1,028 yards
Passing: Sean Goldrich, QB, 2,076 yards
Receiving: R.J. Harris, WR, 1,004 yards
Tackles: Akil Anderson, LB, 124
Sacks: Matt Kaplan, DT, 6.5; Cody Muller, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Steven Thames, CB, 4

Other Key Returnees: QB Andy Vailas, RB Dalton Crossan, TE Harold Spears, WR Jimmy Giansante, WR Jared Allison, LB Shane McNeely, LB DeVaughn Chollette, S Hayden Knudson, S Nick Cefalo, P Brad Prasky

Key Losses: WR Justin Mello, RB Chris Setian, OL Seamus O’Neill, OL Ricky Archer, DB Manny Asam, DL Sean McCann, DE Jay Colbert, K Mike MacArther

The Wildcats return eight starters to an offense that ranked 29th in the FCS with 432.4 yards per game. Coach McDonnell has two quarterbacks with major starting experience in Sean Goldrich and Andy Vailas. Goldrich, a 6-3 junior, completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,076 yards and 14 touchdowns. Goldrich is also a major threat to run and he added 417 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Vailas started six games last season and threw for 1,392 yards and nine scores. This will be Goldrich’s team, but having Vailas around to mix things up or cover Goldrich when necessary is a great luxury. Both quarterbacks will throw plenty of passes to R.J. Harris. In 2013 he caught 76 passes for 1,004 yards and five touchdowns. Tight end Harold Spears is one of the best in the FCS and will help replace the production lost with Justin Mello. With four starters back on the line, the running game will be very strong too. Back Nico Steriti rushed for 1,028 yards and eight touchdowns last season and sophomore Dalton Crossan has breakaway speed.

The New Hampshire defense improved as last season went on, but there is still a lot of room to grow. One thing the defense does do very well is get to the quarterback. The best rushers on the front four are back. End Cody Muller and tackle Matt Kaplan totaled 6.5 sacks each. At linebacker, both Akil Anderson and Shane McNeely are capable of getting into the backfield. Those two combined for 11.5 sacks and 27.5 tackles-for-loss. But Anderson and McNeely also combined for 144 tackles. With those two in the middle of the field, this defense has a lot of potential to take massive steps forward. The secondary returns safeties Hayden Knudson and Nick Cefalo, as well as senior cornerback Steven Thames.

The Bottom Line:
New Hampshire once again will test themselves early with games against Toledo and Lehigh. But as far as the CAA schedule goes, it could have been much worse. Villanova and Towson are not on the schedule and there is a stretch of games against Stony Brook, Albany and Rhode Island. They also play at Elon. Those are arguably the four easiest games possible in the CAA.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 192.9 (34th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 239.5 (37, 4)
Total Offense: 432.4 (29, 4)
Scoring Offense: 30.8 (34, 3)
Rushing Defense: 169.3 (62, 8)
Pass Defense: 238.1 (88, 6)
Total Defense: 407.4 (79, 8)
Scoring Defense: 23.0 (29, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.30 (40, 4)
Sacks: 2.87 (14, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.53 (84, 8)

Madness 2014 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#43 D'Andre Drummond-Mayrie
#49 Rory Donovan
#88 Matthew Torrey


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