By Trevor Dugan | August 22, 2022
Photo Credit: UAlbany Communications and Marketing (Used with Permission)
The first kickoff of 2022 is around the corner for the Great Danes. After a 2-9 campaign in 2021, it’s apparent some changes need to be made. With several key starters departing, a vacancy at QB1 and a new offensive scheme being implemented, fans can expect to see a new look squad this year.
New offensive coordinator Jared Ambrose is entering his first year with UAlbany. He spent the last three seasons as OC for the University of Delaware. Head Coach Gattuso has coached against Ambrose in years past, and spoke highly of him on media day.
“We have similar personalities, we both eat too much. We’ve got a lot in common,” Gattuso said of Ambrose. “The big thing to me is we agree on what we’re gonna do.”
Ambrose will be tasked with helping name a new starting quarterback. Former starter Jeff Uncercuffler entered the transfer portal following the end of last season, kickstarting a competition among his backups. Colorado State transfer Matt Valecce appears to be the frontrunner for the position, but Coach Gattuso is confident that whoever is chosen can be the right man for the gig.
“We have four guys, every one of them could win the job,” Gattuso said. “We’re going to get back to pounding the football, running the ball, being more efficient, and every one of these quarterbacks could run our offense.”
The Great Danes lost some players to the transfer portal this offseason, including star defensive end Jared Verse. Verse transferred to Florida State after receiving over two dozen offers from some of the nations top programs. His All-American level production will be sorely missed.
However, despite the personnel turnover and uncertainty under center, Gattuso is confident in the Great Danes’ ability to be one of the top teams in their conference.
“We want to win the conference,” Gattuso told reporters. “The chemistry on the coaching staff has been outstanding, the chemistry on the team has been outstanding… We think we can win the conference, there's no reason we can’t.”
The Great Danes open the season on the road against Big 12 powerhouse Baylor on September 3. Baylor finished fifth in the final AP Poll following a Sugar Bowl victory against Ole Miss, their highest finish ever. The Great Danes will look to bounce back from two disappointing seasons following their first ever FCS playoff win in 2019 with a strong 2022 campaign.