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Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Gridders will visit Toledo to open next year

August 25. 2013 9:26PM
Andy Vailas and Sean Goldrich are still battling for the starting UNH quarterback job. (FILE PHOTOS)

DURHAM -- Folks around the University of New Hampshire football team have business to take care of this week and vow to not do a lot of heavy thinking about their season-opening game at Central Michigan on Sept. 7 until they wrap up fall camp.

They can bet the Chippewas of Central Michigan aren't thinking about them much at the moment either.

The Chippewas need to worry about the Wolverines before they can set their sights on the Wildcats.

Central Michigan steps up to the Big Ten to take on Michigan, in the Big House in Ann Arbor with its 100,000-plus capacity, on Saturday to begin the season.

Sean McDonnell's Wildcats have been doing a fair amount of their stepping up into the Mid-American Conference.

UNH has scheduled one Football Bowl Subdivision team each season for more than a decade and has been collecting a paycheck — the going rate is generally $300,000 or above — for the challenge of traveling to face an opponent that has more scholarships, better financial backing and plays on a higher level.

The Wildcats took on Central Michigan and lost, 40-33, back in 2003 near the start of their FBS journey.

They have also played Kent State, Ball State and Toledo out of the MAC.

The trend will continue.

Word came out of the University of Toledo last week that the Rockets and Wildcats have agreed to meet again to kick off the 2014 season.

UNH and Toledo will play on Saturday, Aug. 30.

The Wildcats lost at Toledo, 58-22, in the first game of the 2011 season.

After losing to Central Michigan, UNH won five straight games against FBS schools — Rutgers, Northwestern, Marshall, Army and Ball State. The Wildcats have lost their last three FBS games, to Pittsburgh, Toledo and Minnesota.

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LOOKS LIKE the battle for the starting quarterback job between Andy Vailas and Sean Goldrich that has been waged for more than a year will continue through Thursday's final scrimmage of training camp.

Vailas, a junior out of Bedford and Bishop Guertin High School of Nashua, and Goldrich, a sophomore from West Haven, Conn., have both been impressive from last winter, though spring football and into fall camp, according to UNH coaches and players.

Goldrich won the starting job and led UNH to a victory in the opener against Holy Cross last year. Vailas took over when Goldrich was injured early the next week against Minnesota. Both quarterbacks played well through the season.

The offense, with either playing calling the shots, is potent.

"Offensively, you can just go up and down and look at our skill positions from receivers to running back and we still have a tossup at quarterback," said junior wide receiver R.J. Harris. "If we can make a few less turnovers and hold onto the ball, a couple less penalties. . . . It's the entire offense. If we do the little things well, that's what coach Mac always says, do the little things well. Alignments. Assignments. If we do that well, there's no telling where we can go with this offense."

Harris caught 84 passes for 1,059 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

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THURSDAY'S SCRIMMAGE, which begins at 4 p.m., will give a couple of players a chance to get familiar with new positions in game-like conditions.Jimmy Vailas, a senior out of Bedford and Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, is now listed as a tight end. He has spent his career on the defensive line.

Junior Brian Ciccone is at defensive end. He has played there in the past, but has been playing tight end recently.

The changes were made after junior Robbie Zauck, who was playing well in a three-person mix at defensive end, was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury early last week.

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IT'S Opening Week for most UNH teams.

The women's soccer team got things going at the University of Vermont in the TD Bank Classic over the weekend and the football team must wait another week.

But the bulk of the school's teams kick things off next weekend.

The cross country teams host Providence College in their only home meet of the season on Saturday. The women start at 11, the men at 11:45.

The men's soccer team, picked to finish fifth in America East, competes in a tournament at Bradley University. The Wildcats play Bradley on Friday and Evansville on Sunday.

The field hockey team, second in the league's pre-season poll, is in a tournament at Temple and plays Maryland on Saturday and Ohio State on Sunday.

The volleyball team, picked fourth in America East, is at Lehigh for a tournament. The Wildcats play Lehigh on Friday and Rhode Island and St. Peter's on Saturday.

The women's soccer team lost its opener in Vermont to Colgate, 2-0, on Friday and beat Sacred Heart, 1-0 on Sunday. Kirsten O'Neil of Hampton scored the game's only goal, assisted by older sister Kelsi. Erica Correa notched the shutout.

The Wildcats play Providence at home on Friday night at 7. On Twitter: @AllenLessels