Colorado will play a new opponent in football on Saturday, as the New Hampshire Wildcats come to Boulder.
Although the Buffs have never faced the Wildcats on the football field, UNH comes to Boulder as one of the most highly regarded programs in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). That’s a credit to head coach Sean McDonnell, who is in his 20th season leading the program.
After this game, the Buffs will begin preparing for one of McDonnell’s former assistants: Chip Kelly. The first-year head coach at UCLA grew up in New Hampshire, played at UNH and then spent 14 seasons as an assistant coach with the Wildcats. Kelly was an assistant for former UNH coach Bill Bowes in 1992 and again from 1994-1998. When McDonnell took over as head coach in 1999, he hired Kelly as offensive coordinator – a job he held for eight seasons, through 2006.
During Pac-12 media day in Hollywood, Calif., in July, I asked Kelly what the Buffs can expect from McDonnell’s team.
“They’re going to be well-coached, fundamentally sound, and they’re going to play their tails off,” Kelly said. “That’s been his hallmark since he’s been there.
“He’s probably the most consistent performer at the FCS level and they’ve had a history of beating I-A teams when they play up. But they know (CU head coach Mike MacIntyre) has a really talented team this year, too. It’s going to be a heck of a game.”
Since leaving New Hampshire after the 2006 season, Kelly has made stops at Oregon and with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.
After this weekend’s games, Kelly will have a chance watch his alma mater on film as he prepares to lead his Bruins against CU on Sept. 28.
“Hopefully (the Wildcats) can do something to (MacIntyre’s team) so we can learn from it,” Kelly said. “I know I’ll talk to them after they play him.”
New Hampshire has had just two head coaches in the last 47 seasons. Prior to McDonnell’s tenure, the Wildcats were led by Bowes for 27 seasons, from 1972-1998.
Like Kelly, McDonnell played at UNH. He then worked as an assistant for the Wildcats for eight seasons (1991-98) before taking over as head coach in 1999.
Granite State Buffs
Throughout its history, CU has had just two lettermen who came from the state of New Hampshire: safety Jason Burney (1995) was from Merrimack, N.H., while center Wayne Lucier (2001-02) was from Salem, N.H.
Halfback Gary Kuxhaus (1967-69) is listed as being from Denver, but came to CU after attending Phillips Academy, a secondary school in Exeter, N.H.
Preparing for UNH
Although New Hampshire comes into Boulder with an 0-2 record, the Buffaloes said they aren’t taking this game lightly.
“No matter who we’re playing doesn’t really matter,” CU quarterback Steven Montez said. “We go into every week ready to prepare mentally and physically for the team that we play. We’re going to get everybody’s best, so we have to prepare to give them ours, as well.”
For many of the Buffs, the fact that today’s game is the home opener will be motivation in itself to play well.
“I’m definitely excited,” linebacker Nate Landman said. “Folsom is a great atmosphere. Everybody is pumped. Last year we had a lot of people show up to our games. It’s great having that fan base. Being at Folsom, we just bring a new energy. This is our stadium and it’s definitely hard for people to come here and play just because of the energy we bring.”
495 – Today’s game will be the 495th at Folsom Field. The Buffs have a 312-172 record (.642) at Folsom.
4-1 – CU’s record in home openers under MacIntyre, the only loss coming to Arizona State in 2014. This is the third time under MacIntyre that CU has had its home opener against an FCS foe, as it opened 2013 against Central Arkansas and 2016 against Idaho State.
319 – Passing yards needed by Montez to reach 5,000 for his career. He comes into today with 4,681 career passing yards. Currently, just six quarterbacks in CU history have hit the 5,000 mark.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.