UNH coach excited about tweaks to staff as spring football nears

  • New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell questions a referee during a game in 2014 at Alfond Stadium in Orono, Maine. AP file

  • New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA football playoff game, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 in Durham, N.H. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) Robert F. Bukaty

  • New Hampshire Wildcats head coach Sean McDonnell is seen on the sidelines against the Stony Brook Seawolves during a college football game on Saturday, September 19, 2015 in Stony Brook, NY. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan) Gregory Payan

For the Monitor
Published: 3/24/2018 12:21:59 AM

DURHAM – The University of New Hampshire football team will have some new tasks during spring practice, which opens April 3 and runs through the Blue-White game May 5.

Not only will coach Sean McDonnell be looking to fill some holes on the offensive line and fine tune other positions, he will also be working with a somewhat restructured coaching staff. He’ll break in a few new assistant coaches and some other coaches will be handling new assignments.

McDonnell is excited about the changes.

“I think what we have is a good staff, after the dust all settled,” McDonnell said. “There’s a good feeling, a good vibe about where we’re at right now.”

The offensive staff has been shuffled in particular.

Michael Ferzoco and Alex Miller, both longtime UNH assistants, have moved up and will be running the offense as co-coordinators. Ferzoco, in his 11th season on the staff, will be the pass game coordinator and will continue to work with the wide receivers. Alex Miller, in his eighth year with the Wildcats, will continue to be run game coordinator and be in charge of the offensive line.

“I feel really good about them,” McDonnell said. “Both of these guys have been here for a long time and have been through offensive coordinators (Tim) Cramsey and (Ryan) Carty. They understand how the system’s been. I think they’re both excited about having their opportunity to take care of each part of the game, the run game and the pass game.”

Ferzoco and Miller moved up when Ryan Carty, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the last six years, left for Sam Houston State.

Other newcomers on the offensive side include Casey DeAndrade, who will work with running backs, Keith LeVan with the quarterbacks and Jordan D’Onofrio with tight ends.

All three have a connection to the Wildcats.

“All these guys have had a taste of UNH football in some form or way,” McDonnell said. “Some for five years, some for 10 years, some for 12 years. It isn’t like anybody new is coming in. The biggest thing is to get them all on the same page and get them running and going. I’m excited about having that happen.”

LeVan starred as a UNH wide receiver through the 2007 season. He’s been the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Bentley University the last few seasons.

“I’m really excited about Keith LeVan coming in,” McDonnell said. “The great thing about Keith is that he’s one of us. He’s a kid who has been through just about everything we’ve done here and every phase of our program, whether it’s summer conditioning, whether it’s playing in the fall, spring ball, mat drills. He’s got a real good idea about the culture and the grind that we’ve got to have.”

D’Andrade was a standout defensive back for the Wildcats through the 2016 season.

D’Onofrio played at Manchester Memorial High School and Springfield College. He worked in quality control at UNH two years ago and was at Springfield last season.

“I’m excited,” McDonnell said. “I think those guys will work really, really well together. You’ve got two young guys that are both getting their first opportunity to be in a room alone with a position group doing things.”

John Bowes is the new face on the defensive side and will work with safeties. He was the defensive coordinator and coached safeties last year at Fordham and before that had stints at Fordham and William & Mary.

“Johnny Bowes is a great addition,” McDonnell said. “I’ve known John now for several years. He brings a ton of experience. We used to meet with him and clinic with him over what he was doing and what we were doing. Always felt really comfortable with him. High-energy Philly guy. Just excited about having him in the program. I think he’s going to add an awful lot. I’m also excited about Garrett Gillick taking the next step and moving up the ladder a little bit with responsibility.”

Gillick is again coaching linebackers and has added responsibilities with Scott James leaving to become defensive coordinator at Holy Cross.

“It’s very important that those young guys keep growing,” McDonnell said. “That’s like the deal with Chris Ellis. Chris was a new addition last year. I thought he did a really nice job with our defensive ends.”

John Lyons is back as defensive coordinator with Peter McCarty working with defensive linemen. Ellis is back for his second year with the defensive ends.

Besides Carty and James, the other assistants who moved on during the offseason were Chris Zarkoskie, who worked with tight ends, and Chris Setian with running backs. Both are now at Brown University working with former UNH quarterback Kevin Decker, who is Brown’s offensive coordinator.

McDonnell likes the energy and enthusiasm on the staff and in the program as the spring session approaches.

“It’s great,” McDonnell said. “You talk and there are questions. ‘Why do we do this? Why do we do that? How do we do this? How do we do that?’ That’s always pretty good. And this is a good time of year to have that happen, in the spring and in the winter so that when you get to the fall you’re on pretty much the same page.”

(Allen Lessels can be reached at Allen.Lessels@unh.edu or on Twitter @UNHInsider.)



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