Monday, March 21, 2011

New Hampshire Wildcats 2010 Review

2010 Record: 8-5 (5-3), Tied 3rd Colonial
2010 Postseason: 2nd Round, Defeated Bethune-Cookman, 45-20, Lost to Delaware 16-3
2010 Schedule/Results: Central Connecticut State, W 33-3, @ Pittsburgh, L 38-16, @ Rhode Island, L 28-25, Lehigh, W 31-10, @ Maine, L 16-13, Richmond, 17-0, @ James Madison, W 28-14, UMass, W 39-13, William & Mary, L 13-3, @ Villanova, W 31-24, Towson, W 38-19, @ Bethune-Cookman, W 45-20, @ Delaware, L 16-3


     Sean McDonnell may have pulled off one of his better coaching jobs at UNH this season, and he has had some very nice seasons in his 17 as head coach of the Wildcats. UNH had stumbled to a 2-3 start in what was a fairly difficult early season schedule. McDonnell rallied his team to win 5 of 6 to close the regular season out with a playoff bid. UNH ruined the first ever home playoff date for Bethune-Cookman before falling flat against streaking CAA rival Delaware in the 2nd round of a playoff that nobody would have pegged UNH for in early October. McDonnell, like Keeler at Delaware, was on the radar for the UConn job, but McDonnell, a UNH alum, stayed home.
     RJ Toman was the latest in a strong line of UNH QBs to take the field, but unlike his predecesors, Toman was not the all everything QB that the others tended to be. Toman seemed to bump his way through at times, and struggled with turnovers that hampered his overall productivity. In all, Toman, passed for 2414 yards and 15 TDs, but also tossed 11 picks on the season, and his efficiency rating of 124.53 was good for only 5th in the 10 team CAA. Ricky Santos he was not.
     The run game was not exaclty what one would call a central pivot in the UNH scheme in 2010, as McDonnell prefers a pass first philosophy. Dontra Peters, a sophomore, led the team in rushing with 707 yards and 7 TDs on the season, only accounting for 58.92 yards per game in the Wildcat offense. Sean Jellison also went over 100 carries, but his line of 110-365-2 was hardly a driving force.
     Terrence Fox caught 80 passes in 2010, but failed to break the 1000 yard mark, as he was held to 821 yards and 7 TDs. One would expect a higher number from someone with so many receptions. Joey Orlando was the second target, with a line of 50-585-6, while Kevin Mason had a line of 34-442-1. These numbers tell the tale of an offensive gameplan that was centered around a medium range passing attack, with elements of the dink and dunk made famous by the New England Patriots in recent seasons, specifically under Charlie Weis.
     UNH was solid on the defensive side, only allowing 1779.5 yards passing per game, and 133.2 yards rushing per game. Basically, you were not going to see many big play opportunities against the Wildcat defense.10 teams on the UNH schedule were held to 20 points or less.
      Sophomore LB Matt Evans personified the aggressive nature of the Wildcat defense in 2010. Evans was the CAA tackles leader with 156 total tackles on the season, over half of which were solo jobs. Evans averaged 12 tackles per game. Hugo Souza (95), and Alan Buzbee (86) were also notable contributors to this very solid unit. Buzbee, too, was a sophomore, while Souza moves on.
     The front seven as a whole were an attacking unit that provided no mercy. Brian McNally finished 4th in the CAA in TFLs with a total of 18 on the season, while Matt Evans extended his prowess to opposing backfields with 12 on the year. BUzbee also added 11 trips to the backfield, while sophomore DL Jared Smith added 11 of his own TFLs to the mix. Lance Maiilloux just missed the double digit fun with 9. McNally had a sack party in 2010, as he more than led the CAA in that category with a toal of 16 sacks, 11 of which were solo sacks. The most excellent news is that McNally returns in 2011 as a senior, ready to wreak more terror.
     The secondary had some playmakers of their own in 2010. Kyle Flemings and Dino Vasso both broke up 8 passes on the year, while Ryan McGuiness knocked away 6 passes. Only Flemings returns in 2011, meaning that the Wildcats will have some holes to fill in 2011. Vasso finished the season 2nd in the CAA in INTs with 6, while Flemings added 4 more to the team total.
     Mike McArthur had a very nice freshman season at PK, as he hit 10 of his 13 FG attempts all season. The Wildcats have to be excited about the prospects of his development in 2011 and beyond. Kyle Auffray served as the punter in 2010, but that did not go over very well, as he was the 2nd to worst punter in the league with a 37.73 yard average on punts. He moves on, so things can only get better.


When you see how talented UNH is on defense, you have to wonder somewhat how this team lost 5 games in 2010. The answer was moderate play at QB, and a lacking run game that did little to help the cause on a regular basis. Toman leaves as QB, leaving McDonnell to find yet another QB. It was easy to be spolied a couple of seasons ago with Ricky Santos having been a 4 year starter. McDonnell will have to sort things out in the spring and fall to see if lightning can strike twice. If the run game can become a bit more dynamic, a QB can be found, and the secondary can be rebuilt, UNH can push Delaware and William & Mary for the CAA crown. If those items are not easily fixed, UNH can still push for an at-large bid, but the CAA is always strong, so you have to stay strong to compete. UNH fans should be optimistic, but have caution until the questions get answered. Another 8 wins are not out of the question, but it can go either way.


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