UNH’s starting QB still undecided
DURHAM – Both proved they can play at the college level. Now it comes down to who deserves to start at quarterback for the University of New Hampshire football team.
Senior Adam Riese and sophomore Trevor Knight began making their case to replace Sean Goldrich last season.
The competition continued into the spring and now summer training camp culminating with Aug. 25’s Blue-White Game at Wildcat Stadium in which the duo passed for a combined 436 yards and five touchdowns.
The Wildcats hope to make a decision by Monday.
"It’s going to be tough," coach Sean McDonnell said. "Both played well. They’ve played well all fall camp. It was close. We’ve got to figure out which guy gives us the best opportunity to win with what we’re doing."
UNH won all three of Riese’s starts last season. The fifth-year senior has the most experience of the two.
Riese hooked up with sophomore Neil O’Connor for a 62-yard score on the second play from scrimmage in the final tune-up to opening night versus San Diego State at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. O’Connor also caught a 74-yarder from Riese in the second quarter of the Blue-White Game.
"I saw some good things," Riese said. "I saw guys flying around and making plays. Neil helped me out twice."
O’Connor finished with five receptions for 146 yards and two scores. The offense gained 618 total yards, 568 through the air, and put up 55 points.
Knight tossed TD passes to Kyon Taylor (34 yards), Trevon Bryant (22) and Anthony Pante (3 yards) for the game’s final score as Blue defeated White, 38-17.
"They put the ball on people," McDonnell said, "and they knew where they were going with it."
Taylor made a diving catch in the back left corner of he end zone on a play that had to be reviewed.
Pante also had five catches and Taylor finished with four receptions for 88 yards.
Knight, who starred at Nashua South High School, completed 15 of 20 passes while Riese went 12 for 18. More importantly, neither turned the ball over.
"Both are going to play this year," McDonnell said. "Somewhere along the line both are going to play."
"The offense as a whole, we started getting it rolling," Knight said. "It’s great to get some confidence going."
Knight was the game’s top rusher with 14 yards on six carries.
"I really like the live situations better," Knight said. "You feel like you’re actually playing the game. I enjoy that a lot more."
Defense looked solid
Defensively, freshman safety Pop Lacey led all tacklers with five and redshirt freshman Matt Sherlock had four. Josh Kania, Mike Boryeskne, Ryan Sosnak and Kyle Reisert were credited with sacks.
"I thought the young guys in general did a really nice job," said senior linebacker and co-captain Ryan Farrell. "They got a lot of reps which is good. They got to show their skills and the way they’ve acclimated themselves to the speed of the game."
McDonnell was impressed with safeties Michael Balsamo and Rick Ellison, both redshirt freshmen.
"When they had to fill the run and tackle people and do some things in open spaces, I thought they did a pretty good job," McDonnell said.
Senior cornerback Casey DeAndrade is the only sure thing in the secondary. He sat out Thursday’s scrimmage with a hamstring injury, but is expected back for the season opener at San Diego State on Sept. 3.
"The No. 1 defense and the No. 1 offense did what they were supposed to do against the second-teamers," McDonnell said.
Knight likes new home
The scrimmage served as a "soft opening" for the new stadium, which will officially open Sept. 10 against Holy Cross.
"It’s a beautiful stadium," Knight said. "It was a long time coming. The people before us set the stage for us. We’re blessed with that."
"The atmosphere was pretty cool today," McDonnell said.
On the injury front senior guard Alexander Morrill (hip) is expected to miss the opener as is sophomore tight end Nick Derocher of Northwood, who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.
Both sat out Thursday’s scrimmage.