‘Cats take on Blue Hens on home turf

James Evans

With one game left on the schedule, it’s an easy equation for the ‘Cats: win and they are in, loss and the season is done. ‘Nova has a tough task ahead though, playing its rival, No. 3 Delaware. The Blue Hens have one lose on the season and are looking to capture the A-10 title.The ‘Cats traveled to Delaware last year in search of a win to make the playoffs and were able to sneak away with a 38-34 victory to qualify. This year the ‘Cats are the home team, but face a bigger challenge as they play a tougher and more experienced team.

PASSING: The ‘Cats will be starting Joe Casamento at quarterback for the game. And who would argue? Though he has struggled in the last couple of weeks, he was the best player in all of Division I-AA football to start the season. Casamento, who leads virtually every category in passing in the A-10, will hopefully be able to find the magic he had to start the season. And though a mid-season injury plagued him for a couple of weeks, head coach Andy Talley has confidence that he will be able to perform up to his ability.”Joe is feeling good and he will be healthy to start,” Talley said.The Blue Hens quarterback Andy Hall is coming off the game of his career, completing 28 of 39 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns in a triple overtime win against UMass. However, what makes Hall truly dangerous is that he can beat you with his feet as well. Last week he rushed for 63 yards and scored a 13-yard scramble in the second overtime. Plus his quarterback rating of 148.0 ranks second in the A 10 and he leads the No. 1 scoring offense in all of the A-10, averaging a blistering 35 points per game.His senior leadership is what gives Hall the edge over the sophomore Casamento. Plus there is less pressure on him, as Delaware has already qualified for the playoffs.Advantage: Delaware

RUSHING: The ‘Cats two-headed horse of Terry Butler and Martin “Mo” Gibson seems to be running on fumes of late. Butler had 14 carries last week, only gaining a net of 39 yards, while Gibson had 10 attempts for 44 yards. The ‘Cats seem also to be a one-dimensional team all year, with Casamento leading the way. Though Butler and Gibson have been given little chance to display their abilities, those opportunities have been too far and few. The ‘Cats will rely heavily on their passing game again this week, but if they could sneak a run in here and there, they could catch the Blue Hens off guard and maybe get a big play out of it. Delaware’s halfback Germaine Bennett is the third leading rusher in the A-10, averaging 93 yards per game, while leading the division in rushing touchdowns with 12. The ‘Nova defense has played tough against the run all year, only giving up 115 yards total rushing. However, Bennett has the explosiveness and speed to break through a tackle and outrun a defensive back to the end zone.Advantage: Delaware

DEFENSE: The ‘Cats defense has been stellar all year long, giving up only a total of 291 yards a game and last week only gave up a total of 185 yards. The defense last week they only gave up seven points and that is because the offense had a turnover and forced the ‘Cats defense to play with a short field. The team has been led by linebacker Brian Hulea all year long, as game in game out he leads the teams in tackles. Also defensive back Clarence Curry is the best in the A-10, playing seal-tight defense on any wide receiver who challenges him.Delaware’s defense is not too shabby itself as it is ranked fourth in the conference. However, do not be fooled by this ranking. Their defense is suspect. The whole year the defense has relied on the offense to blow teams out. So if ‘Nova shuts down the high powered offense, they could take advantage of the weak defense.Advantage: Villanova

Prediction: Every time I have picked ‘Nova to win this year they have lost. So to do my part, I will take Delaware in a blow-out. Delaware 35 Villanova 21.