Battle between Wildcats set for Saturday

James Evans

Villanova will be hosting the New Hampshire Wildcats this weekend. New Hampshire has been a pushover in the past as the ‘Cats have won the past six meetings against New Hampshire and have scored more then 40 points in the last four games.

However, this year New Hampshire is no push over, as they quickly became a dangerous team in the A-10. Ranked No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today poll, this team has earned praise and respect of all the A-10 coaches and teams.

Offense: The ‘Cats’ offense has not been as dangerous as it had been in years past, when they could score in the 30s each game and no one would even blink. The offense is still solid, averaging scores in the 20s for their first two games. The last two games, ‘Nova put up 0 and 16 points, but any teams offense would struggle when faced with hurricane-like weather and by a team that was on a 17-game winning streak.

Having two solid quarterbacks, Marvin Burroughs and Joe Casamento, and running backs Terry Butler and Martin Gibson, makes this team very dangerous and gives Coach Talley four reliable options in the backfield.

New Hampshire’s offense has been excellent this year, averaging 28 points per game and is ranked second in the A-10 in passing offense, averaging 263 yards per game. The Wildcats’ rushing offense averages over 128 yards per game and is ranked ninth in the conference, which is dominated by good running teams.

Edge: New Hampshire

Defense: The Wildcats defense can be thanked for all three of the wins this year. In those games, the defense has risen up to stop the other team from scoring the game winning score. It seems like every Saturday Raymond Ventrone, Jamil Butler and Brian Hulea are ending up at the top of the stat column as they anchor the defense, making big play after big play. The defense is only giving up 15 points per game and has shut the door on many of their opponents’ attempts to score.

New Hampshire’s defense is, in one word, poor. They are giving up on average 20 points per game, but that is not the worst stat; its pass defense is the second worst in the A-10 giving up 244 yards per game. So look for the quarterbacks of Villanova to take advantage of the poor secondary of New Hampshire. Also, their rushing defense isn’t that solid either, as they are giving up over 100 yards per game. Look for Butler and Gibson to jump on this week rush defense.

Edge: Villanova

Special Teams: These teams are exactly the same when it comes to special teams. Their punting average is exactly the same 34 yards per punt, and their averages on punt returns and kickoff returns are also similar. However, where these two teams differ is when it comes to hitting field goals. Villanova’s Adam James is still untested as he has only had one attempt and missed it. New Hampshire’s kicker has missed four of the six field goals that he has attempted, but he has also made all of his PAT attempts.

Edge: Push

Score Prediction: Villanova 20-17.