As the New Hampshire football team prepares for its Colonial Athletic Association opener against No. 3 Towson on Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium, the Wildcats will probably take some time studying the 13th-ranked defense in the Football Championship Subdivision, junior defensive end Ryan Delaire's 6½ sacks, and the 11th-ranked scoring offense in the country.
One of the biggest priorities for New Hampshire is Tigers junior running back Terrance West. The Baltimore native and Northwestern graduate has carried the ball 126 times for 648 yards, and his 12 touchdowns are the most in the FCS.
"Terrance West has picked up right where he left off," Wildcats coach Sean McDonnell said of the back who gained 1,051 yards and 14 touchdowns on 195 rushes last season. "He has done a tremendous job of running the football. This guy has had a field day against the University of New Hampshire over the last two years. He is a guy who has a forward pad level, gets downhill. Doesn't matter if it's Connecticut, Holy Cross, Stony Brook, the guy finds a seam and busts it and goes. He's done it to us a number of times."
West rushed 23 times for 261 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-42 Towson win over New Hampshire on Nov. 12, 2011 and 19 times for 236 yards and two scores in a 64-35 rout on Nov. 17 last year.
Asked what he learned from that loss last year to the Tigers, McDonnell said, "I think we better learn to tackle. I think we better learn to tackle very well. That was a big emphasis after the season, talking about looking at the things in that game. Terrance West and everybody just ran right by us. We had missed tackles in the open field. In order to stop these guys or slow them down, you cannot allow them to go the length of the field. I think keeping the ball in front is paramount with these guys."
McDonnell said the key against West on Saturday will be for New Hampshire's defensive players to stay in the running lanes and keep him contained.
"We've got to be gap-conscious," McDonnell said. "We can't try to cheat, try to go make plays that we're not supposed to go make because he has great vision in what he does. I think we've got to stay low on the defensive line and get penetration because these guys roll off the football."