New Hampshire Football Report

UNH has talent up front

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

Senior Tad McNeely is back at center and classmate Alexander Morrill at left guard and those are two major reasons UNH football coach Sean McDonnell feels the strength of his team at the moment at least is in its running backs and offensive line.

McDonnell expects a crew of Wildcat running backs, headed up by senior Dalton Crossan and juniors Trevon Bryant and Donald Goodrich, to do some serious damage this fall.

A talented and veteran offensive line plays a major role in those expectations.

The Wildcats are working on that running attack – along with every other aspect of their game – now in the midst of spring practice.

The spring sessions wrap up with the Blue-White spring game – open to all and with free admission – on May 7.

The 2016 season kicks off with a game at San Diego State on Sept. 3.

McNeely, Morrill and Co., the big guys up front, will look to make the running game go and protect for the pass game as well.

“The comfort factor is high when those guys are starting games and playing together,” said offensive line coach Alex Miller of McNeely and Morrill.

Both have started since they were redshirt freshmen. McNeely missed most of last season with a knee injury and Morrill is still recuperating from surgery to repair a shoulder injury that ended his season prematurely. He’s seeing limited action this spring.

Both are expected to be full go come preseason camp in early August.

Miller and the coaching staff will look to put their best five offensive linemen on the field as starters and McNeely and Morrill will be joined by others with varying degrees of experience as starters.

Andrew Lauderdale, 6-foot-6 and 279 pounds, started throughout last season at tackle and senior Curtis Nealer, 6-foot-3 and 303, at guard. Juniors Will McInerny, 6-foot-7 and 291 pounds, and Jake Kennedy, 6-foot-3 and 307, each started games as well.

Among the others in the mix are Dayne Herron, a 6-foot-4 and 294-pound sophomore, and Nick Velte, a 6-foot-3 and 276-pound redshirt freshman. Noah Robison, 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds out of Pinkerton Academy, was a true freshman at Coastal Carolina last fall and is sitting out the season as a transfer.

“There’s a ton of athleticism in that group and it’s just getting the right guys on the field that are playing at the highest level, the most consistent,” Miller said.  “We have some players who are older and some younger with a couple in between. I think it should be good. We have numbers for a change and that’s a big difference from the fall when we had so many injuries. Fall was just such a crazy time. I really think we have some young guys that are going to get some reps and some older guys who are going to get the reps that may make them an all-conference player, a better player, things like that.”

McNeely and Morrill, the guys in the middle, are key. Both played major roles in UNH runs to the FCS tournament semifinals in 2013 and 2014.

McNeely made the Colonial Athletic Association All Conference second team as a sophomore.

“Any time you can get an all-conference guy, one of the better linemen in the CAA, back, I’m a better coach and we’re a better football team,” Miller said. “He’s back at 100 percent. . . . Any time you get that back, I have a better feeling. I think the guys are a little more comfortable with it, Coach Mac is a little more comfortable with it. It kind of steadies the ship a little bit going forward.”

McNeely makes the calls for the line.

“He’s smart,” Miller said. “He could probably be a little more vocal, but he always seems to make the right call. He’s smart but, he’s not oversmart. What I mean by that is he doesn’t overthink what’s going on. He diagnoses the play, gets us in the right protection or call or whatever we need to do and doesn’t see more than he has to. He’s got a real good feel for it. His doing it as a redshirt freshman a couple years ago was kind of a crash course in him playing center here. It will be good for us going forward.”

Morrill will be right beside him.

“We get him back in the fall,” Miller said. “Rehab’s going great right now. He’ll be at 100 percent. Up until last year when he injured his shoulder he was playing at a really high level so to get him back, again smart, confident – he’s really the one that kind of provides that toughness, too. It will be great to have those guys back.


Follow Allen Lessels on Twitter: @UNHInsider.

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