New Hampshire Football Report

UNH has line movement

NOTE: This is one in a series of stories on position groups within the UNH football team as spring football heads towards the annual Blue-White game in Wildcat Stadium on May 4 at noon. 

DURHAM – The silver lining to having a rash of injuries during a sports season is that the situation opens up playing opportunities for multiple people.

University of New Hampshire offensive line coach Alex Miller hopes last season’s injuries and the corresponding increased playing time for members of his group pays off in 2019.

“We started nine different guys last year on the offensive line and seven of those guys are coming back,” Miller said. “At the time it wasn’t a great thing because you had a lot of new guys playing, but I think it will be a good thing going forward because we have a lot of experienced guys.”

A mix of older and younger players gained valuable experience last year.

The Wildcats wrap up spring football with Saturday’s Blue-White game in Wildcat Stadium at noon.

Two of the senior leaders in the group – 6-foot-4 and 285-pound tackle Jeff Carter and 6-foot-2 and 281-pound guard Matt Matulis – have come a long way in the last year. Neither was considered a front-runner for a starting job when last season began and each has taken an interesting journey to his role.

“Those guys for me are kind of my coaches on the field and I can lean on those guys a little bit,” Miller said.  “They’ve always shown up and done the right thing. In the offensive line world, that’s half of it. It’s not an exciting position, as you know. If you can come with a good attitude every day, it really helps the cause.”

Matulis, slowed by injuries that threatened to end his career prematurely, ended up starting six games last season.

“We always felt he had the ability, he just had the injury bug early and he could never put a whole year together,” Miller said. “Last spring he wasn’t able to practice. . . . . He was able to dust it off through fall camp and the season and finally strung some months together playing healthy football and he’s doing a good job for us.”

Carter worked his way into the starting lineup last season, was hurt and came back to start the last two games of the year and five total.

“Jeff came from Vermont and had never pass blocked before,” Miller said. “He was 240 pounds and now he’s 280 pounds. He can pass set. . . . . He’s our only nurse on the team. He goes to clinicals from 7 to 3 and then comes over to practice or goes to clinicals from 3 to 11 at night and then will practice the next day. The younger guys can see going to English class isn’t that bad if this guy over here has eight hours in clinicals in the hospital and comes to practice and does what he’s supposed to do.”

Nick Velte, 6-foot-3 and 289 pounds, and Noah Robison, 6-foot-6 and 286, are seniors who have starting experience.

“Nick’s playing well and giving us some depth,” Miller said.

Robison is dealing with an injury this spring.

Juniors Matt Mascia, 6-foot-2 and 278 pounds, and Jack Carroll, 6-foot-2 and 285, have started as well. Mascia has started more than 20 games the last two seasons.

Patrick Flynn, 6-foot-3 and 277 pounds, and Riley Burns, 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, both earned starts last year as redshirt freshmen. Flynn started every game at center and will likely move to tackle.

“He started all 11 games at center, which is tremendously difficult to do,” Miller said. “He’s athletic and long enough that he’s going to move out to tackle and he has a good grasp of the offense. He is just a quiet player. He goes about his business, does what he’s supposed to do. He’s tough. He’s competitive. You don’t have to worry about him having an off day.”

Burns started against Colorado for the first time and was injured in the game and missed the rest of the season.

“Riley’s a big, strong kid who plays guard,” Miller said. “He’s played a little tackle this spring. That gives us a little flexibility. He’s very light on his feet and quick. Those two guys, I think, can be good players going forward.”

Sophomore Cam Rush, 6-foot-4 and 299 pounds, played in a couple of games last season.

“This offseason Cam really got in the weight room,” Miller said. “He took advantage of our competitive situations and is starting to carry it over to the football field.”

Osho Omoyeni is a 6-foot-3 and 299-pound redshirt freshman who has had an impressive spring at center.

“He’s doing a good job right now,” Miller said. “For a kid who’s only been here eight months, he carries himself well and he’s very coachable. He’s going to add depth and he’s going to push the guys that we have coming back.”

Juniors Tyreak Richardson, 6-foot-3 and 314 pounds, and Curtis Linton, 6-foot-3 and 275, and redshirt freshmen David Perry, 6-foot-5 and 313 pounds, Matt O’Neill, 6-foot-4 and 301, and Andrew Carter, 6-foot-6 and 245, are also in the mix.

“I’m excited about all the competition we have right now, to be honest with you,” Miller said. “I like having the competition. Then everybody has to stay on their ‘A’ game. They can’t feel comfortable. Then with all things being considered, we’re going to hit an injury bug at some point and having some guys that have played, you feel a lot better about things going forward.”

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