UNH’s Evan Gray

The UNH offensive line has been opening holes for the running backs, including on this run by Evan Gray last Saturday against Rhode Island.

The main topic of discussion with the University of New Hampshire football team always seems to come back to the quarterback.

After losing last year’s starter, Trevor Knight, to graduation, the Wildcats went into camp with a wide-open competition. Eventually they whittled it down to two options: true freshman Max Brosmer and redshirt freshman Bret Edwards, yet there still wasn’t a clear choice.

Fast forward three weeks into the season and it appears Brosmer has taken hold of the job after starting Week 2 and Week 3 for the Wildcats, though interim head coach Ricky Santos admitted Wednesday they’re taking it week by week.

What deserves more attention is what UNH has gotten out of its running backs.

Between senior Evan Gray, sophomore Carlos Washington Jr. and redshirt freshman Dylan Laube, the Wildcats have established a three-headed monster in the backfield.

“They’re doing a great job,” Santos said Wednesday. “We have three backs that we have a ton of confidence in. If we can get a little bit more explosive in the pass game and continue to do those things, we’re going to be more balanced and have an opportunity to have a more explosive offense going down the stretch.”

After finishing 10th in the Colonial Athletic Conference in rushing offense last season, UNH now ranks sixth, averaging 179.7 rushing yards per game.

That number is a bit inflated by the 229 yards the Wildcats picked up on the ground in their 27-24 win over the University of Rhode Island on Saturday, but the big-play ability has been apparent in each of their three games.

Gray gained 71 yards on just five carries in Week 2 against Florida International University, which UNH lost 30-17. A 35-yard rush accounted for almost half his total yardage, but take that away and he still averaged 9 yards per carry.

He was even better against URI, finishing with 123 yards on seven carries for an average of 17.6 yards. Take away his career-long 81-yard romp and he still averaged 6.3 yards per carry, so the ability to pick up chunk yards is there.

Week 1 belonged to Washington, who rushed for 111 yards on 18 carries against Holy Cross, a game UNH lost 13-10, scoring the Wildcats’ only touchdown.

Having the ability to move the ball effectively while they continue to figure out if Brosmer or Edwards or someone else is the guy at QB is huge for the Wildcats. It takes pressure off the young guys under center and allows them to play within themselves, limiting mistakes all the while.

“If we’re going to continue to run the ball the way we think we will, then (Brosmer) just needs to manage the game and allow some of the big plays to come to him and not force it,” Santos said. “I think that’s the only way he’ll put himself in that situation is if he tries to do too much.”

The UNH backfield will get a big test this Saturday when it goes up against a Duquesne defense that is allowing 113 rushing yards per game. If they play well and the QB situation continues to stabilize, the Wildcats just might have something offensively.