New Hampshire Football Report

UNH entering Spiders’ web

DURHAM – They finally got their break in the schedule.

Now junior center Osho Omoyeni and the No. 17-ranked University of New Hampshire football team hope to come roaring out of their bye week and pick up where they left off a couple of weeks ago with their third straight win, an impressive 40-22 triumph over Elon University.

The chase to a Colonial Athletic Association championship and a coveted berth in NCAA FCS Division I tournament is down to three games, starting on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Virginia against No. 14 Richmond.

Both UNH and Richmond boast 6-2 records. The Wildcats are the only undefeated team in CAA play at 5-0, while Richmond joins William & Mary at 4-1 in the league.

UNH plays No. 23 Rhode Island on Nov. 12 at Wildcat Stadium (1 p.m.) in its final regular season home game.

The Wildcats close out the regular season and look to regain possession of the Brice-Cowell Musket in a Border Battle clash at Maine on Nov. 19 (noon).

Omoyeni, like head coach Rick Santos, initially had some concerns over having the team’s one-week break in the schedule coming so late in the year.

“It was kind of like, dang, we’ve got to play a lot of games before we get a break,” Omoyeni said during the team’s media session Wednesday. “Looking back on it now, I feel like it taught us how to play through some pain and play through some adversity.”

The Wildcats won their first two games, dropped one at home to North Carolina Central, won again at Towson and then lost their FBS game, 44-7, at Western Michigan.

“We kind of got humbled pretty well at Western Michigan and you don’t have a bye week to get your mind right,” Omoyeni said. “You have to just roll with the punches and keep working and try to get back on the right track.”

They did and closed out the October portion of their schedule with victories over Stony Brook, at Dartmouth and home against Elon, avenging losses from last season with the last two wins.

“The fact we were able to do that, it let us build some confidence back up,” Omoyeni said. “Not to say that we’re not where we’re supposed to be. I feel like everybody still has that chip on their shoulder and it didn’t fall off given the bye week. If anything, we’ve added another one. I’m excited to play this game.”

Each of the last three games offers another chance for revenge. Each of the teams beat the Wildcats last year when they lost their last eight games of the season after starting 3-0.

Richmond was down 21-17 after three quarters last year in Durham and rallied for a 35-21 win, starting a four-game win streak to close the season at 6-5.

Grad transfer Reece Udinski, 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, arrived out of VMI for this season and has led the Spiders into contention for a CAA title and the playoffs. He’s passed for 2,287 yards and 19 touchdowns with three interceptions.

Last week, in a 33-20 win at Maine, Udinski completed 26 of his 33 passes for 368 yards and a pair of touchdowns and also ran for two scores.

“He’s elite,” Santos said. “Tremendously accurate, throws with a really good touch on the deep ball. I think the tape shows that he understands defensive intent and he’s very intelligent. It’s evident when you turn on the tape that he gets through progressions. It’s not just his first and second reads. He finds his checkdown. He finds the running back quite often. We certainly have our hands full there.”

Udinski has a group of dangerous receivers. The Spiders share the league lead in turnover margin at plus-six.

UNH sophomore defensive ends Josiah Silver (7.5 quarterback sacks) and Dylan Ruiz (nine sacks) will look to lead some pressure on Udinski.

The Wildcats did not have a turnover in a game for the first time against Elon and continued to work on ball security – and getting the ball out – during the bye week.

UNH leads the league in time of possession at 33 minutes, 55 seconds per game and Richmond is next at 32:37.

The Wildcats will aim to keep controlling the clock and keep Udinski off the field with their balanced offense, led by sophomore quarterback Max Brosmer and his cast of receivers and junior running back Dylan Laube.

Brosmer has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,724 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. Senior Brian Espanet, grad transfer Heron Maurisseau and freshman D.J. Linkins have each caught three TD passes. Redshirt freshman Joey Corcoran leads the team with 33 catches for 389 yards and a pair of scores and senior Sean Coyne also has two TD catches.

Laube has rushed 145 times for 624 yards, averaging five yards a carry and 103.4 yards per game and has seven rushing touchdowns. He also has 26 catches for another 229 yards and a score.

Omoyeni, who came to UNH out of Lowell, Mass. and Central Catholic High School, and his group will work to make holes for Laube and the other running backs and buy time for Brosmer to throw.

He’s the man in the middle between grad student left tackle Patrick Flynn at left tackle and  junior David Perry, Jr. at left guard and sophomore Dylan Poirier at right tackle and junior Matt O’Neill at right guard. Grad student Matt Marvin and redshirt freshmen Mason Davis and Aidan Michaud have also rotated in.

“Osho’s been tremendous,” Santos said. “Independent of his physical attributes and what he’s done, first and foremost I think he’s stepped up as a leader. He’s really done a great job in his preparation and his film study. He’s in there all the time. Someone like David Perry, I think, has grown up a lot and I think that’s because of the leadership of Osho. He’s helped him with the calls, making sure he understands the combos and all those things.”

The work that offensive coordinator Brian Scott, who is also the offensive line coach, has put in with the unit is paying off.

“I think the offensive line in general is much improved,” Santos said.


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