Never before during his 21 years as the University of New Hampshire’s head football coach has Sean McDonnell had to deal with so much uncertainty at quarterback.
Not only does McDonnell not know who the starting QB will be when UNH opens its season Sept. 7 against Holy Cross, he doesn’t know who will fit where on the rest of the depth chart at that position either. Amherst’s
Trevor Knight, the starter for most of the last three seasons, has graduated, and Christian Lupoli, the No. 2 QB on the depth chart last season, transferred to New Haven.
So finding a No. 1 quarterback is clearly the No. 1 puzzle the UNH coaching staff has to solve between now and the end of summer workouts. The candidates are sophomore Tommy Herion, a former walk-on at the University of Iowa; true freshman Max Brosmer, who enrolled at UNH after the first semester; senior Ivan Niyomugabo, who played at Merrimack Valley of Penacook; sophomore Stephen Hedberg, who played at St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover; and redshirt freshman Bret Edwards, who is expected to begin practicing this week after nursing a shoulder injury.
Of the five, only Herion has thrown a pass during a game. He completed 25 of his 53 attempts last season.
“The quarterback position, which is the most important position, is gonna take a while to figure out,” McDonnell said. “Herion, Brosmer, Ivan and Hedberg have all had their opportunities. Unfortunately for Bret Edwards right now he’s had a shoulder issue that has limited his throwing. This will be the first week that he gets his full numbers in there.
“You’re always trying to find out what best fits what they do and how they can run the offense, so that’s a work in progress as well. It’s been a long time in my career since we’ve been in a position like this (at quarterback).”
The UNH offense struggled in most areas a year ago. The Wildcats finished last season ranked 11th in the 12-team Colonial Athletic Association in scoring offense (17.8 points per game) and 10th in passing offense (174.8 yards per game).
Injuries to the offensive line was among the many things the UNH offense had to overcome last season, and the injury bug is still lingering. Offensive tackle Noah Robison hasn’t been able to practice because of a shoulder injury, and guard Jack Carroll had an appendectomy last week. Robison, who played at Pinkerton Academy, started in nine games last season.
“We started nine different guys last year and seven of them are coming back,” UNH offensive line coach Alex Miller said. “Now there’s some guys still coming back from injury, but there’s a lot of competition and I’m hoping we’ll be full strength in the fall and there will be even more competition. There’s definitely some able bodies that can help us win some games.”
Inside linebacker Quinlen Dean, one of four players charged with a Class B felony count of riot for his involvement in an incident at a UNH fraternity house in the offseason, has been practicing with the team. Dean tied for the team lead in tackles last season, and led the Wildcats in tackles for loss (14) and sacks (six). Linebacker Zachary Banks, linebacker Kyle Hamper and linebacker Jackson Housman were the other players allegedly involved in the incident. …
Matt O’Neil has been moved from defensive tackle to the offensive line. …
UNH has also been practicing short-handed at the wide receiver position. Brian Espanet is out with a knee injury, and Nick Lorden, a Milford resident, is out with a bad back.