Wildcats look to rebound against Tribe

Kyle Scudilla

Fresh off a disappointing 48-30 defeat at the hands of the Rhode Island Rams during Homecoming Weekend, the Villanova Wildcats will host the William & Mary Tribe, in what is certainly a pivotal game in Villanova’s thus far up-and-down year.

Where the Teams Stand: Villanova’s most recent loss against Atlantic 10 foe Rhode Island put them at 1-3 against conference opponents and 3-4 overall. The Wildcats have now lost three of their last four games, all against A-10 teams. On the season, the ‘Cats currently sit in last place in the Atlantic 10’s South Division, with respect to conference and overall records. The Tribe of William & Mary on the other hand, possesses the best overall record out of all South Division teams, with a 5-2 mark, and enters this game red-hot, with a four game winning streak. They eked out a double overtime victory against the Northeastern Huskies last week to improve their conference record to a stellar 3-1. Each team’s remaining schedule will be exclusively against Atlantic 10 teams.

When Villanova Has the Ball: Against Rhode Island, Villanova failed to get the passing game going, and so it was the running game that helped the Wildcats along to their 30 point total. Senior RB Moe Gibson led the way with 88 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. The versatile J.J. Outlaw added 86 yards to the rushing total, and junior RB Dequese May scored on a 17 yard run. With touchdowns by Gibson and May early, Villanova was able to jump out to an early 16-3 cushion, but that lead soon evaporated. The passing game struggled all day, as QB Frank Jankowski, though sporting a respectable completion percentage, managed only 194 yards in the air, in addition to an interception. His one touchdown pass on the day was well below his season average. The stifled passing game also hurt the production of the offense’s biggest weapon, Outlaw. Though making seven catches, his receptions totaled a mere 23 yards. The Wildcats, who have relied heavily on the passing attack all season for success, cannot afford to have such a limited performance through the air again against a more formidable defense this week.

When William & Mary Has the Ball If the Wildcats allow anywhere near the amount of rushing yards the Rhode Island Rams were allowed to gain last week, they stand a very slim chance of winning this week. The run defense was ripped to shreds, as the Rams ran for 436 yards. QB Jayson Davis looked like Michael Vick, running for 189 yards on 19 carries and scoring 3 touchdowns. Not to be outdone, the Rams running back, Joe Casey ran for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day. With only seven passes attempted all game, the Rams racked up 476 yards of total offense and put 48 points on the board. Needless to say, Villanova needs to see a big reversal of fortune against a team that is averaging 40 points a game this season. The Tribe offense was sparked last week by backup QB Jake Phillips, who came in and threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns. William & Mary’s featured receiver is sophomore Joseph Nicholas, who has compiled 34 catches, 517 yards and four touchdowns on the year. As if worrying about Phillips and the passing attack wasn’t enough for the shaken Villanova defense, they also have to deal with a solid run game, led by RB Elijah Brooks, who has scampered for 702 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Villanova’s front defenders need to start filling in gaps and making plays, otherwise William & Mary’s potent offense could run rampant in Villanova Stadium.

Prediction: Villanova badly needs a win against a conference opponent, or they risk falling to 1-4 in the Atlantic 10 this year. Unfortunately, this match-up favors the Tribe and could get ugly if Villanova’s defense doesn’t step up in a big way. William & Mary 41, Villanova 24