Wildcats set to visit Delaware on Saturday

Matt Clark

Inside Slant

The 11th-ranked Blue Hens host the now un-ranked Wildcats in what recently has become a bloody rivalry. Delaware defeated Richmond last Saturday, 23-14, to snap its two-game losing streak.

Delaware, James Madison and William & Mary all stand at 6-1 in league play this season. If all three should win next week, they would share the Atlantic 10 title. William & Mary, however, would get the automatic NCAA I-AA berth due to the conference tie-breaker system.

The defending NCAA I-AA champion Blue Hens would then make a tournament appearance as an at-large qualifier. Villanova’s air general Marvin Burroughs has thrown at least two touchdown passes in each of his last six games. ‘Nova seeks its fourth straight season with at least seven victories. Villanova will not be cast in the tournament this year; the only role the ‘Cats are playing for is spoiler.

‘Cats Key to Victory

There are a few ways that teams have beaten the defending champions, and ‘Nova will have to capitalize on all of them.

Air Attack: Delaware has a mediocre pass rush and has a league low eight interceptions on the year. New Hampshire quarterback, Rick Santos, had only 146 yards passing, but went 14-18 and connected for two long touchdowns (36 yards and 44 yards). Special Teams; JMU was held to total of 166 yards but won the game. Delaware completely broke down on special teams giving up 299 yards on returns. This gave JMU the field advantage they needed to upset the Blue Hens.

Red Zone: ‘Nova’s defense must be a wall inside the 20. Against JMU, Delaware quarterback, Sonny Riccio, threw three straight incomplete passes in the red zone costing his team the game. Delaware is the second worst team in the league in the red zone settling for eight out of 12 field goal attempts and 23 touchdowns in over 40 visits. On the other side of the ball, Villanova is the best defensive team in the red zone. Navy was just simply too much for Delaware to handle. One main key will be turnovers, upon which Delaware knows how to capitalize. What helps the ‘Cats is the fact that Delaware makes costly mistakes when the pressure is on. They gave up a total of 12 turnovers in their three losses and had 13 penalties for 109 yards as well.