New Hampshire Football Report

It’s still Knight time

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

DURHAM – Trevor Knight, in his first season as starting quarterback for the University of New Hampshire football team, came on strong as last year progressed.

UNH coach Sean McDonnell and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Carty are looking for continued improvement from the junior as spring football concludes, preseason camp opens in late July and the 2017 season begins.

“It’s the good thing about playing a young quarterback,” Carty said. “He got a lot of game-time reps last year. He got put in a lot of situations that were good for his development and good for our team’s development. Hopefully we can keep him healthy and keep him progressing the right way throughout spring and throughout fall camp. I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t expect a very good season from Trevor.”

Spring football is nearing a close and wraps up with the annual Blue-White Spring Game on April 29 (noon) in Wildcat Stadium.

The 2017 season features a unique home opener, a “Thursday Night Throwdown” game against Maine on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. UNH and Maine have traditionally, especially in recent years, played at the end of the season.

Knight competed with senior Adam Riese last year and won the starting job. The competition these days is for the backup job behind him.

Redshirt freshman Christian Lupoli has closed the gap on sophomore Ivan Niyomugabo in that race, McDonnell said this week. Redshirt freshman Will Pollard is the other quarterback on the roster.

“Hopefully by the end of spring, and in particular by the end of fall camp, we need a backup,” Carty said. “We’ll see how that all shakes out. . . . You look at the history of our quarterback position. There’s not many years where we’ve played one kid for 11 to 15 games. We’ve got to make sure we have some solid depth.”

McDonnell has been happy with Knight’s play so far this spring.

“Trevor’s been good,” he said. “I’m always wanting more from him, as you do from every starting quarterback. When he’s had time to throw the football, has had time to get it off, he knows where it’s going and has been accurate.”

There have been a few challenges for the quarterbacks this spring: Injuries have kept some of the team’s receivers sidelined at times, the offensive line is being rebuilt after losing three of last year’s starters to graduation and the offense is going against what looks like a promising defense.

Some of Knight’s improvement last year showed up in turnover numbers. He passed for 14 touchdowns and had 10 interceptions last season.

He threw for eight touchdowns, but also had eight interceptions in his first six games of the season. In his last six, he passed for six scores, but was intercepted twice.

“Trevor’s been improving for probably over a year now,” Carty said. “Probably around this time last year he was concentrating on being a better pocket passer and staying in the pocket when he had one. When he got to the point where he needed to go make a play, that was never something that he needed work on. He’s an extremely athletic, fast and explosive type of player.”

Now much of the approach is fine-tuning.

“It’s the small things in being a quarterback and the mental processing in the pocket and that kind of stuff,” Carty said. “Feeling more comfortable there. I think it’s really just a comfort thing and he’s gotten much better at it.”

Leading the offense and the team come into play as well.

“That’s also something he’s been working on and we’ve been working on,” Carty said. “I think a lot of that is time and experience and maturity as far as becoming a better leader and becoming somebody that leads. I think right now in the skill group there’s not a ton of old guys on our team, particularly on the offense. So he’s got to be one of those guys. He’s been a starter for a year and he’s at the position that’s in the forefront of things. He needs to be that guy that guys look to when things are going poorly and that guys count on when things need to get picked up.”

Follow Allen Lessels on Twitter: @UNHInsider.

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