‘Cats gear up for undefeated Pennsylvania

Matthew Clark

The Wildcats (2-1-0) will travel to the University of Pennsylvania on Saturday to take on the Quakers (1-0-0). The Division I-AA Wildcats, who are ranked 11th in the nation, will have an uphill battle against their Division I-A opponents. UPenn, coming off a 61-18 blow out over San Diego, was undefeated last year and has won the Ivy League Championship the past two years in a row.


Villanova: Where to begin? Maybe quarterback. Wait, no, we don’t have anyone. Running? Well, Terry Butler and Mo Gibson are averaging about a combined 100 yards a game. They get a pass, even though fumbling seems to be a problem. Wide receiver? Nope. J.J. Outlaw is the ‘Cats leading receiver with 100 yards receiving and one touchdown …. in three games. However, it is hard to do well as a receiver when you have to adjust to two different quarterbacks in one game. Speaking of which, getting sacked 13 times?! I know we have two quarterbacks (“just in case”), but come on. The offensive line has to hit the heavy bags a little more in practice. ‘Nova has the worst scoring offense in the Atlantic-10, the second worst passing offense and the second worst rushing offense. They only average 217.0 yards per game, while four teams in the A-10 average over 400. I love my school and my team, but this is not acceptable.

Penn: The Quakers have an amazing offense. Their weak spot is the offensive line.) All five offensive linemen from last year graduated. The quarterback is a first-year starter. In last week’s game, he went 13-27 with 181 yards and two touchdowns, but he lacks composure under pressure. (Go get them, Jamil.) However, the Quakers’ offensive specialists are just scary. First-team All-Ivy wide receiver Dan Castles and first-team All-Ivy running back Sam Mathews are back. The duo became the first running back and receiver in Penn’s program history to record over 1,000 yards in the same season in 2003. Mathews carried the ball over 230 times last year for over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Castle recorded 13 touchdowns. In addition to Matthews, running back Von Bryant is also averaging over 100 yards a game.

Edge: Penn


Villanova: This is where Villanova thrives. The Wildcats have the second-best rushing defense, the fourth-best pass defense and the second-best total defense in A-10 football. They allow less than 200 yards of total offense and only 15 points a game. J. Butler leads the team with four out of 11 sacks this season; he is also bringing down eight tackles a game. Beast Brian Hulea averages about 10 per game, along with Raymond Ventrone, who has nine tackles per game. Ventrone and his fellow defensive backs have only given up two passing touchdowns this season.They look good.

Penn: Penn’s defense is hurting, but not that bad. They graduated three first-team All-Ivy performers, including the heart and soul of the defense, linebacker Steve Lhotak. However, they return San Doval, a first-team All-Ivy pick at linebacker. They also return honorable-mention Luke Hadden, who started only six games but raked up 36 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Penn’s secondary is as strong as last year’s group who picked off 19 passes in 2003. Seniors and ’03 All-Ivy selections Thomas and Bryan Arguello will lead a deep and experienced defensive back field.

Edge: Even

Special Teams

Penn has an inexperienced kicker in Evan Nolan, but he proved himself in the last game after making a 49-yard field goal. The Quakers kick returner Thompson averaged 31.4 yards a return last year, and punt returner Joe Phillips averaged 7.9 yards a return. ‘Nova’s Gibson is averaging 23 yards per kick return carry, and Outlaw is averaging over eight yards a punt return. Adam James is averaging close to 40 yards a punt but is still scoreless from the field. This would be an even match up, if it were not for the greatness of a 49-yard field goal.

Edge: Nolan

The Low-Down

The Quakers have been undefeated since the 2002 season, but a streak like that has to end sometime. Penn is not the same team it was last year or two years ago. ‘Nova’s “D” vs. Penn’s “O” is a great match-up, which makes it difficult to say who will come out on top. It will definitely be a hard-hitting and intense fight to watch. However, ‘Nova’s “O” vs. Penn’s “D” is a one-way street, and unfortunately, the ‘Cats are heading in the wrong direction.

I love ‘Nova and want to see them win. I even gave them the benefit of the doubt against James Madison because of the rain. But even though there is some hope, I do not think the Wildcats will win.

Penn by 10.