New Hampshire Football Report

UNH: Defensive line has depth

DURHAM – Garrett Gillick, the defensive coordinator for the University of New Hampshire football team, was confident a core of returning linebackers was going to make that group one of the team’s deepest and strongest units as the season opened.

From early returns, it looks like the defensive line wants in on the fun, too.

Featuring a mix of veterans and younger guys, the D-line has helped the Wildcats to a 2-0 record with Colonial Athletic Association wins against Monmouth, 31-21, on Sept. 1 at home and at UAlbany, 28-23, last weekend.

Josiah Silver and Dylan Ruiz, a pair of sophomore defensive ends, and the rest of the guys up front will look to continue their disruptive ways on Saturday when UNH plays North Carolina Central on Youth Sports Night in Wildcat Stadium (6).

UNH and North Carolina Central, a school located in Durham, will meet for the first time. The Eagles are also 2-0.

The UNH defense has come up with seven quarterback sacks in the first two games, the third-best total in the CAA, and has allowed 105 yards rushing a game, the second-best number.

The Wildcats have been able to generate pressure on quarterbacks with their front four players.

“It’s great,” Gillick said. “If you only have to rush four and you can put seven in coverage, there are a lot of different things you can do.”

Silver has a sack in each game and he and Ruiz each had one of the five sacks against UAlbany.

Senior defensive tackle Niko Kvietkus has eight tackles total, a couple of them for loss against Monmouth. Sophomore defensive tackle Nathan Kapongo had one of the sacks at UAlbany and junior defensive end Chris Donnelly had one against Monmouth.

“Between Josiah and Dylan and Nate Kapongo and Niko and Pierce DeVaughn and all those guys who are contributing we’re as deep as we have been there,” Gillick said. “I tell the guys all the time I’m completely comfortable with ‘hockey’ subbing all four at the same time. Putting four new guys in, we can keep them fresh, similar to what we’re trying to do at the linebacker level.”

Coming off last year, Gillick wasn’t sure who was going to step in opposite Silver, who had a breakout redshirt freshman season with 12.5 sacks.

Ruiz, who is studying Zoology, has made an impression.

“He had the ability,” Gillick said. “He’s very athletic and very strong. He has an elite wrestling background in the state of Florida, which is a defensive coach’s dream. We’re always talking about leverage and you can’t teach it. Some of those kids that wrestle just kind of naturally have it.”

Ruiz, who came to UNH out of Osceola High School in Kissimmee, Fla., said he didn’t choose wrestling as much as his high school coach chose it for him and told him he would be doing it.

Not that he’s complaining.

“Wrestling helps so much with everything,” Ruiz said. “It helps with your footwork. It helps with strength and discipline. It helps with everything on and off the field. It’s taught me a lot of things. It’s taught me how to fight through things. I think every football player should play in the mat room. Everyone.”

The start to the season has been nice for the defense and for the team, Ruiz acknowledges.

“But I’m not absolutely happy with it,” he said. “We keep missing tackles. In the last game against Albany, I missed two sacks. But the pressure is there and we’re going to keep applying the pressure.”

The Wildcats have been putting the pressure on with their offense, too.

Junior Dylan Laube carried 32 times for 202 yards and three touchdowns against Albany and the team picked up 260 yards on the ground overall. Laube earned CAA Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors and has five rushing touchdowns through two games.

In Wednesday’s media conference, Laube doubled down on what head coach Rick Santos had said about UNH’s blocking in the game.

“I can’t give enough credit to the O-line and receivers,” Laube said. “Especially (Brian) Espanet. He was blocking insanely. He was awesome. When you watched the film, I think he was blocking like 20 yards down the field from me. It was beautiful to watch.”

What’s Ahead 

North Carolina Central beat North Carolina A&T, 28-13, in the 100th edition of its rivalry game to open the season, and shut out Winston Salem State College, a Division II team, 41-0, last Saturday.

In a bit of a scheduling oddity, the Wildcats play three games this year against teams they have never played and they face them all in the first five games of the season. Besides Monmouth and North Carolina Central, UNH plays its FBS game at Western Michigan in Kalamazoo on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m.

UNH gets back into the CAA next Sept. 24, with a 4 p.m. game at Towson.

After North Carolina Central, UNH’s next home game is Oct. 8 against Stony Brook for Homecoming.

Game notes 

North Carolina Central won its last three games last year and thus enters the game on a five-game overall winning streak. The Eagles were 6-5 overall and at 4-1 were runnerups in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Junior Davius Richard has completed 35 of his 56 passes (62.5 percent) with two touchdowns and one interception. Richard also leads the Eagles with three rushing TDs.

Latrell Collier and J’Mari Taylor each rushed for a pair of scores against Winston-Salem.

The Eagles have allowed one touchdown this year.

UNH sophomore quarterback Max Brosmer completed 11 of his 14 passes against UAlbany for 73 yards and opened the scoring with a 2-yard pass to redshirt freshman Joey Corcoran.

Brosmer has completed 29 of his 49 passes for the season for 345 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Junior tight end Kyle Lepkowski has nine catches for 345 yards to lead the receivers. Laube has five catches for 57 yards and Corcoran five for 34 yards and UNH’s only TD reception.


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