‘Cats, Rams square off in

Kyle Scudilla

With the Villanova Wildcats football team at a critical juncture in the season the Rhode Island Rams are coming to town in what should be an emotionally charged Atlantic 10 conference match-up. The Wildcats are looking for their second straight win in order to top the .500 mark for the first time since they were 2-1.

Where the Teams Stand

Rhode Island is reeling, coming to Villanova looking to snap a four game losing streak. After opening up the season with three wins, against Fordham, Central Connecticut, and William & Mary, they’ve dropped consecutive games to Massachusetts, Brown, Towson, and New Hampshire. The Rams stand at 3-4 overall, and 1-3 in the conference.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, have had an up and down course en route to their 3-3 overall record. After starting out 2-1, Villanova lost its next two games before soundly defeating Bucknell in an impressive showing last week.

When Villanova Has the Ball

Villanova’s aerial attack this season has been nothing short of stellar, and a lot of that is thanks to last week’s offensive standout, WR J.J. Outlaw. Outlaw, Villanova’s leading receiver this season, did it all in an outstanding performance against the Bison last week. Outlaw opened up the scoring in the first quarter with a 63 yard run for a touchdown. He also had 121 yards on six catches, including a 5 yard touchdown reception.

Overall, the offense has been rolling under QB Frank Jankowski. The sophomore has averaged three touchdown passes a game the last four weeks and has displayed sharp passing accuracy. Another of his prime targets, WR John Dieser, caught two touchdown passes last week, giving him five on the year.

While good performance by the passing game has been basically a constant throughout the year, the running game has been a much less featured area of execution in the offensive unit. That changed in a big way against Bucknell, as the rushing attack experienced a renaissance.

Senior tailback Moe Gibson had a very productive day, carrying the ball 11 times for an impressive 148 yards, including a 50 yard run from scrimmage. This rushing success allowed the Wildcats to have the quintessential balanced offense: 235 rushing yards and 234 passing yards for a total of 469 yards against Bucknell. If the running game can have anywhere near this kind of success for the remaining games of the year, Villanova’s offense will be a force to be reckoned with in the air and on the ground.

Rhode Island’s defense has been shaky of late, allowing 45, 23, and 53 points in each of its last three games, respectively. Unless Rhode Island can quickly regroup from the pounding it took from New Hampshire, it could be a very long day for their defensive unit.

When Rhode Island Has the Ball

The Rams like to run, and are not shy about doing so. Their rushing yards for the season more than double their passing output. RB Joe Casey is the most important player for the Rams when they control the football. Casey has carried the ball 114 times this year for 729 yards (a 6.4 yards/carry average) and two touchdowns.

Complementing Casey in short yardage situations has been QB Jayson Davis, who has run for 385 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.

Despite his scoring success in the rushing game, Davis has been less than spectacular when passing the football. With a completion percentage under 50% and a mere four touchdown passes on the year, it seems that the Rams conduct a one-dimensional offense.

While the game plan may look simple to the outside observer, Villanova’s defense has had some difficulty stopping the run, and will need to clamp down early on the Rams’ rushing attack to force them to put the ball in the air. By getting a lead early and maintaining it throughout the game, Villanova will force Rhode Island to put the ball in the skies, something it has certainly been less than proficient in this year. The Rams cannot afford to be in a situation where they have to play catch up. The defensive charge will be led by Wildcat standout, LB Brian Hulea. Hulea was recently added to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List, which is comprised of the sixteen leading candidates for most outstanding defensive player in Division I-AA. Hulea enters the game against the Rams with a league-best 59 tackles (29 unassisted), two fumble recoveries, a pair of interceptions and a touchdown. His leadership will be a key in wrapping up the Rams’ running backs.


Going on the road to face a team with a good deal of confidence and consistency on offense is certainlynot the task a beleaguered Rams squad wants to face this Sunday, but when they travel to Villanova Stadium, that’s what they are going to get.

While the Rams should get their yards here and there, their inability to outgun the high-flying Wildcat passing game should lead to their fifth straight defeat.

Villanova 30, Rhode Island 21