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UNH Football Notebook: CAA Expansion Won't Affect 'Cats Short-Term
DURHAM — There are numbers CAA commissioner Tom Yeager has a pleasure trying to crunch, and others that present more of a challenge.
Start with the tough ones. Two years from now, the CAA will welcome its 13th football-playing member, Old Dominion, which will be lodged in the league’s South Division and unbalance an unbalanced league schedule even more.
In 2012, Georgia State will bring the membership to 14, and play as a nominal member of the North Division, but with a specially-crafted schedule.
“Nobody’s thinks 14 is a good number,” admitted Yeager, on hand at Cowell Stadium to take in UNH’s 48-21 win over Northeastern Saturday. “But, by the same token, there’s a lot of benefit and commitment to making it work, as opposed to blowing it up and trying to do something else.”
Short-term, here’s what it means for UNH: not a whole lot.
The Wildcats will play a similar schedule in 2010 and 2011, with league games against all five of their North rivals and three in the South. Starting in 2012, they will play only one home game and one away game against South teams.
But long-term, staying in the larger-footprint CAA means making it work against more schools that are different, from enrollment to facilities to geography, all of them chasing the same annual bids to the Division I playoffs with disparate budgets.
Yeager said he is in ongoing dialogues with UNH athletics director Marty Scarano and Maine’s Blake James, the league’s two northernmost programs and arguably two of its biggest misfits when you gauge facilities (UNH) and distance (Maine).
“It remains an ongoing concern,” said Yeager. “The good part is those two schools have great coaches and great teams that play in the mix very well.”
Since 2006, UNH is 19-10 in CAA games. Maine was 15-13 heading into its game Saturday with UMass.
More fun for Yeager is projecting how many teams the CAA can get into the 16-team Division I playoffs after placing five in each of the last two years.
Barring a collapse, unbeaten Richmond and one-loss Villanova, UNH and William and Mary are locks. Each also owns a win over a Division I FBS program, the only four recorded by FCS teams this year.
Close, no cigar
Free safety Hugo Souza almost had a rare kick return touchdown in the fourth quarter, after collecting an onside kick in stride and taking it down to the 13.
“They left me open,” said Souza, who also had an acrobatic interception of a Matt Carroll pass in the third quarter. “They went to all the other guys and it just came to me and I took off.”
“He got caught, is what he did,” interjected UNH coach Sean McDonnell.
Special teams favored UNH, with Chad Kackert and Dino Vasso returning kickoffs to midfield early on, and punter Ryan Glasgow passing 7 yards to Kamal Mohamed for a first down on a fake punt to keep a touchdown drive going in the second quarter.
Kackert’s 176-yard day moved him past Curt Collins and Jim Quinn and into eighth place on UNH’s all-time rushing list, with 2,097 yards. …; Tom Manning missed a field goal from 43 yards at the end of the first half to snap a string of 10 straight makes. He converted from 30 and 23 in the third quarter and has now made 12 of his last 13. …; John Murray started in place of the suspended Jordan Long at DT and had one tackle. Lance Mailloux also played snaps and had four tackles and a sack. …; Mickey Mangieri caught a touchdown pass for the second straight game, a 44-yard deep ball from Kevin Decker in the fourth quarter to make it 41-14.
UNH football notebook: CAA expansion won’t effect ‘Cats short-term
By Mike Zhe, Seacoast Online