UNH Four Down Preview: No. 21 Elon Phoenix (5-2) @ No. 25 New Hampshire Wildcats (5-2)

Image courtesy of ESPN
Preview by Ryan Barry – NEFJ Correspondent

Kickoff: A battle for first place in the Colonial Athletic Association beckons in Durham, New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon as the No. 21 Elon Phoenix take on the No. 25 New Hampshire Wildcats. With an unblemished 4-0 conference record so far this season, the Wildcats control their own destiny in what’s been a massive bounceback season from last year’s 3-8 campaign.

First Down: On the offensive side of the ball the Wildcats strength lies in their passing game, where sophomore quarterback Max Brosmer (137/216, 1,504 YDS, 12 TDS, 5 INTS) has shined so far this season. Ranked 26th in the FCS in passing yards, his consistency has been instrumental in UNH’s revival. While redshirt freshman wideout Joey Corcoran (33 REC, 389 YDS, 2 TDS) has been the Wildcats go-to guy, Brosmer has spread the ball out, with six different players recording at least one or more touchdown catches.

Second Down: UNH also features one of the nation’s better running backs. Junior Dylan Laube (123 CAR, 573 YDS, 6 TDS) ranks 22nd in the FCS and third in the CAA in rushing yards. Laube perhaps shines brighter through his pass catching abilities, with his 23 receptions for 219 yards and a touchdown providing a dynamic outlet that makes him difficult to plan for. Outside of Laube, however, the Wildcats lack an explosive backfield, with the next closest carrier being sophomore Isaac Seide (40 CAR, 156 YDS).

Third Down: Defensively, UNH prides itself on their run defense. Ranked 19th in the FCS and first in the CAA, the Wildcats make it hard to move the ball on the ground. Last week in their 14-0 Granite Bowl victory over Dartmouth, the Wildcats surrendered just 58 rushing yards to the Big Green, whereas last year in their 38-21 loss they gave up a whopping 280 yards. For Elon, they’re led by redshirt freshman running back Jalen Hampton (133 CAR, 554 YDS, 5 TDS), with the Virginia Tech transfer having gotten off to a solid start.

Fourth Down: The true test for the Wildcats will be redshirt senior quarterback Mathew McKay (122/202, 1,794 YDS, 14 TDS, 3 INTS). McKay is ranked 8th in the FCS and first in the CAA in passing yards, and is tied for 9th in the nation in passing touchdowns. The Montana State transfer has been the Phoenix best player all season, having also been a factor in the run game, carrying the ball 76 times for 263 yards and three touchdowns. The last time UNH faced such a dynamic dual threat quarterback they struggled mightily. With a week three 45-27 loss to NC Central, their only other FCS loss this season, the Wildcats allowed junior Davius Richard to go 18/27 for 194 yards and two touchdowns in the air, and dominate on the ground with 16 carries for 140 yards and a touchdown.

Extra Point: The Wildcats lead the series 5-2 and hope to make up for last season’s 24-10 loss in North Carolina. This will be the second straight trip in as many weeks to New England for the Phoenix who dropped their first FCS game of the season in a 17-10 loss to Rhode Island. In each team’s lone FBS matchup this season the Wildcats were smoked 44-7 by the MAC’s Western Michigan. For Elon, if not for a fourth quarter fumble, the Phoenix could’ve had the SEC’s Vanderbilt on upset alert, before eventually succumbing 42-31 in Nashville.

Final Drive: Both teams matchup fairly well against one another. With similarities in offensive and defensive rankings, this should be a close game that comes down to the wire. If the Wildcats can limit the dual-threat abilities of Matthew McKay they should have a chance. With this game being at home, on Parent’s Weekend, in what’s shaping up to be a beautiful fall afternoon, Wildcat Stadium should be rocking. The atmosphere should motivate the Wildcats to keep their conference record perfect before the following week’s big road matchup in Richmond.