Battle for top spot in A-10 continues

James Evans

Villanova Stadium has turned into the mecca of Division I-AA football this year. It is home to No. 2 ranked Villanova Wildcats and will also be hosting its second game of the season featuring two teams ranked in the top five this Saturday.

UMass is No. 5 in the nation and will be looking to stay undefeated and pull off the upset when it comes to the Main Line. These teams are so close that this one could come down to the wire, especially with the ‘Cats coming off with a close win against Rhode Island.

Passing: Few quarterbacks in the Atlantic 10 can rank up against the ‘Cats Joe Casamento, who is still living the dream season. Once again, Casamento comes into the game leading the Atlantic 10 in passing, averaging an outstanding 247 yards per game and amazing completion rate of 72 percent. Casamento has been flanked all season by a bevy of options at wide receiver, from the speed and agility of J.J. Outlaw to the hard nosed and reliable play of Noble Champen and the always steady Phil DiGiacomo coming out of the backfield.

The Minutemen are led by senior quarterback Jeff Krohn. Krohn has had a solid season throwing for an average of 216 yards per game, while throwing 13 touchdowns. However, he can be suspect at times, has been picked nine times this year and sometimes tries to squeeze the ball into tight places.

Advantage: Villanova

Rushing: The ‘Cats’ rushing game relies heavily on the shoulders of two backs, Martin “Mo” Gibson and Terry Butler. Gibson is the slashing back, who has speed to hit the holes, while Butler brings the power and force and lowers his shoulder into oncoming defenders. Together, they have combined for over 125 yards per game. However, the ‘Cats themselves are averaging an impressive 200 yards a game and the offensive line should be commended, because they are opening up holes for the backs to burst through. The Minutemen have averaged only 150 yards a game, but they rely heavily on Steve Baylark, who is averaging just under 90 yards a game and has also scored seven touchdowns this season ranking him second in the Atlantic 10. He is tied with his teammate Rich Demers who also has seven touchdowns.

Advantage: Villanova

Defense: ‘Nova comes into the game ranked No. 1 in total defense in all of Atlantic 10 giving up only 285 yards a game. Cornerback Clarence Curry is the No. 1 ranked cornerback in all of Atlantic 10, having broken up nine passes this season. Also Brian Hulea is also the fourth leading tackler in all of the Atlantic 10, averaging 12.3 per game. The Minutemen are giving up a staggering 343 yards per game, but rank No.1 in defense when it comes to rushing defense, only giving 89 yards a game. However, the pass defense is the second worst in the Atlantic 10, giving up 250 yards in the air. Casamento should look to take advantage of the Minutemen’s weak secondary.

Advantage: Villanova

Special Teams: Both teams are in the middle of the pack when it comes to special teams. ‘Novas one-man special team, Adam James, has hit four of six field goals and is averaging 40.5 yards per punt. The Minutemen’s kicker Mike Torres has been far from decent this year only hitting one-half of his field goal attempts, while punter Christian Koegel is averaging 40.2 yards per punt.

Advantage: Even