Villanova closes out regular season at Delaware in ‘Battle of the Blue’


After edging Towson by a field goal in their last home game of the year, No. 6 Villanova will travel to the University of Delaware on Saturday for the final contest of their ’08 regular season. The Wildcats will be looking for their ninth win of the season, having only lost to West Virginia and No. 1 James Madison. This season’s record, 8-2, is already the team’s best since 2002, when they made it to the NCAA Semifinals.

The Blue Hens of Delaware, meanwhile, will look to improve on their 4-7 record that currently has them in fifth place in the CAA’s South Division. Coming off a 31-14 loss to Richmond on the road last weekend, Delaware will also hope to win the annual season finale matchup with Villanova for the first time in three years, as they have not defeated the Wildcats since 2005.


Delaware’s offense is not one of the stronger units Villanova has faced this year, as it ranks last in the CAA in total offense at only 285 yards per game. Last weekend’s effort against Richmond was, in fact, the school’s worst ever, as they managed to gain a total of only 53 yards and three first downs throughout the game. Inconsistency at just about every position has been the story of the season for the Delaware offense, which just in the last two games has begun starting freshman quarterback Lou Ritacco. However, Ritacco threw for only 48 yards and was intercepted once last week, so it is unclear whether he or junior Robby Schoenhoft, who began the year under center for the Blue Hens, will get the start.

One bright spot for the Delaware offense has been senior wide receiver Aaron Love, whose versatility has given him opportunities to catch, run and pass the football, as well as return punts. Look for the Wildcat defense to focus on containing him, as they hope to bounce back from a below average performance last week in which they gave up 31 points to Towson, nearly two touchdowns above the Tigers’ season average.


The Blue Hen defensive unit, on the other hand, has played surprisingly well given certain circumstances this season. Aside from being on the field more than it would like, as Delaware ranks eighth in the CAA in time of possession, it has also had to deal with no fewer than 12 season-ending injuries to defensive players. Still, the defense has managed to hold opponents to an average of just 2.2 points more than their own offense, despite its ranking second to last in the CAA in scoring.

The defenders have even managed to put points on the board themselves – in fact, all 14 of Delaware’s points against Richmond were scored by the defense. Blue Hen defensive leaders include junior defensive back Charles Graves, who has made five interceptions and two fumble recoveries this season, and sophomore defensive back Tyrone Grant, who has returned both of his two interceptions this season for touchdowns.

Quarterback Chris Whitney and the Villanova offense will have to be careful to avoid turnovers against Delaware, to ensure that they do not allow the Blue Hens to score quick points on the defensive side of the ball.


After surviving a scare against Towson last weekend, the Wildcats will be better prepared when they take on Delaware. A win on Saturday will have them riding a four-game winning streak into the playoffs. The weak Delaware offense should not pose much of a problem for the Villanova defenders, who must return to the form they displayed against opponents such as New Hampshire as opposed to its lackluster performance last weekend against Towson.

Meanwhile, the Delaware defense has already shown that it thrives in the face of adversity and can put on a show even without a strong offense or many of its starters. Look for the Blue Hens to play with intensity as they finish their season at home against a ranked opponent, and for their defense to keep the game closer than the statistics might indicate.

Villanova 21, Delaware 17