Wildcats return home for Atlantic 10 opener against James Madison

Matthew Clark

The Villanovan Wildcats (2-0) will host the James Madison Dukes (1-0) on Saturday in the ‘Cats first division game of the season. The Wildcats are ranked tenth in Divison I-AA by USA Today, while the Dukes are trying to rebound from a seventh place conference finish last year.


DUKES: JMU went for a total of 600 yards in their season opener and scored 62 points. They had 100 yard rushes, passed for four touchdowns, were nine for 10 inside the red zone and perfect whenever they sent their kicker onto the field. T

The Dukes also return ten offensive starters from last year. That being said, they faced the Lock Haven Bald Eagles, a PSAC West team. I don’t know what that division is, but it is not Division I-AA. The Bald Eagles paly teams like Slippery ROck, Kutztown and California University of Pennsylvania.

The Dukes also have a quarterback controversy. Quarterbacks Matt LeZotte and Justin Rascati shared playing time against Lock Haven. Neither quarterback has separated himself enough for a decision to be made, but according to Coach Mickey Matthews, “It doesn’t matter who the starting quarterback is going to be.” I think it does, Mickey.

WILDCATS: ‘Nova’s offense is not much to brag about, going scoreless for almost the entire first half against Lehigh. Red-shirt freshman Marvin Burroughs has seemed to emerge as the starting quarterback. Burroughs has a 108.36 efficiency rating and a 63.8 percent pass completion rating. The problem is he barely cracks 100 yards passing a game.

Terry Butler and Moe Gibson are running well, each averaging over 4.6 and 5.4 yards per carry, respectively.

The Wildcats, as a team, average 159 rushing yards a game. The major problem for the Wildcats comes in the form of the offensive line.

The ‘Cats O-line has given up six sacks for a loss of 38 yards in two games. The holes for Butler and Gibson are not developing quickly enough, and Burroughs will not last against teams like Delaware, Main and Northeastern.

EDGE: Villanova (only because JMU played the Bald Eagles).


DUKES: JMU held the Bald Eagles to a total of 198 yards and allowed only seven points and 38 rushing yards on 25 carries. The Dukes are returning eight starters on defense but lost both of their starting defensive ends, including second-team All-Atlantic 10 lineback Dennard.

JMU has a young secondary, but red-shirt freshman safety Tony LeZotte and sophomore safety Isaiah Dottin-Carter were each credited with six tackles.

WILDCATS: Brian Huela is averaging 10.5 tackles a game. The Wildcats defensive line has been nothing short of a brick wall with Raymond Ventrone and Jamil Butler who each average 8.5 and 7.5 tackles a game, respectively, and combine for seven sacks this season with rest of the defense.

In fact, ‘Nova has the second best rushing defense in the league, allowing only 69.5 yards a game and holding the opposing quarterback to a dire 44.4 pass completion percentage. In the red zone, the ‘Cats have stopped their opponents twice out of six scoring attempts.

EDGE: Villanova (hands down).

Special Teams

This is where both teams match up well. Punt returner Outlaw is averaging 8.5 yards a return, while L.C. Baker averages a stellar 14.5 yards for the Dukes.

Gibson is averaging 23.8 yards a return, while Cortez Thompson averages 29. What breaks it open for JMU are two stats.

First, they give up an average of only 14 yards on kick coverage, while Villanova gives up close to 19. Also, JMU kicker David Rabil is perfect between the posts, while the Wildcats’ Adam James has missed an extra point, which is unacceptable in any football level higher than high school, and his only field goal attempt of the season.

EDGE: James Madison.

Villanova by 10.