High-flying Lehigh will be a test for UNHBy ALLEN LESSELS
New Hampshire Union Leader
September 27. 2013 10:37PM
Break time is over.
Many college football teams will have played five games by the time Saturday is over.
The University of New Hampshire is a bit behind. The Wildcats did not play the first weekend of the season and then were off last week.
Now it’s all systems go for the next nine weeks, starting with road games at undefeated Lehigh on Saturday and Towson next Saturday.
UNH must slow down Lehigh senior quarterback Brandon Bialkowski, who had not thrown a pass before this season, and his high-powered offense this afternoon.
“He does a real good job distributing the ball,” said UNH senior defensive tackle Sean McCann. “He moves well in the pocket. He doesn’t look to run first. He’s looking to get the ball to his receivers, his playmakers”
He’s got a big-time playmaker in Lee Kurfis, a 6-foot-2 senior wide receiver. In three games, Kurfis has 30 catches, is tops in the country at 195 yards a game and has four touchdowns.
Bialkowski has completed 84 of his 125 passes for 1,171 yards and has thrown nine touchdown passes and been intercepted four times.
“It’s got to be a collective team effort,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell. “The front four have got to be able to stop the run and more importantly generate a pass rush. The minute you start adding people in (to the rush) on these guys, they find out where they’re coming from and slide the protections. You start coming at them in man-to-man situations, they go to the screen game. They find a matchup they’re comfortable with and it’s 1-2-3 throw. They’re not holding on to it very much.”
Lehigh is averaging 398.7 yards a game passing, which is second-best in the nation in FCS and is at 524.7 yards of total offense which is sixth best.
The Mountain Hawks are also giving up 500.3 yards of offense a game.
Lehigh is 3-0 with close, come-from-behind wins over Central Connecticut (51-44 in overtime), Monmouth (28-25) and Princeton (29-28) and is ranked No. 21 in The Sports Network poll and No. 18 in the FCS Coaches’ poll.
UNH, 1-1 after a 27-24 loss at Central Michigan and 53-23 win over Colgate, is ranked No. 10 by The Sports Network and is tied for No. 7 in the Coaches’ poll
The Wildcats get a few players back from injury, thanks in part to having last week off.
Running backs Chris Setian, a senior, and Jimmy Owens, a junior, are ready to go along with sophomore wide receiver Mike Detroia. Setian sprained his knee against Central Michigan, and Owens and Detroia have not yet played this year.
Senior defensive back Chris Houston remains out with a foot injury and junior safety Tre William and offensive lineman Sean Ryan, a senior out of Londonderry, are still sidelined.
Andy Vailas, the junior quarterback out of Bedford and Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, has completed 34 of his 51 passes (64.2 percent) for 369 yards and three touchdowns. He has thrown one interception.
UNH is minus-two in turnovers. The Wildcats have lost three fumbles and two interceptions. They have intercepted three passes, but have not recovered an opponent’s fumble.
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Dartmouth takes on Holy Cross tonight at 7 in its home opener. The Big Green beat Butler, 30-23 on the road last week. Holy Cross is 1-3. . . . Plymouth State plays at UMass-Dartmouth today at 4. The Panthers are 1-2. UMass-Dartmouth is 0-2.