Wildcats look for win up north

James Evans

The No. 6 ranked Wildcats leave the city of Philadelphia this weekend for the first time this year and travel north to New Hampshire to take on its namesake rival in its first Atlantic 10 match-up of the season. New Hampshire goes into the game with an 1-1 overall record and is coming off a tough loss to Division I-A Central Michigan, 40-33. Let’s see how these two match up.

Passing: New Hampshire poses a threat when it comes to the passing game. Junior Mike Granieri is having a good year so far, averaging 232 yards a game, has thrown for five touchdown passes and has completed 61 percent of his passes.

Though these numbers look good, they are pale to those of ‘Nova’s Joe Casamento, whose 299.5 yard average, five touchdown passes and 78 percent completion rating have him at the top of the league. Advantage: Villanova

Rushing: New Hampshire’s running attack can feature two different runners, either tailback John McCoy or quarterback Granieri. Granieri scrambled for 75 yards last week, a new career high, and McCoy, even though he has low yardage, has four touchdowns already on the season. UNH is also averaging 192 yards a game on the ground.

‘Nova also features a one-two punch with its runners, with Terry Butler and Mo Gibson. Though both are effective running backs, this team is perfected for the West Coast offense, with little dump passes to their running backs instead of handing off to them. Advantage: New Hampshire

Defense: New Hampshire’s pass defense is one of the tops in the league, averaging only 149 yards against, but its rush defense is where it suffers. They allow an average of 241 yards a game on the ground and also are giving up 30 points up game. Once again, where New Hampshire excels, Villanova tops it by one better, as its pass defense only allows 138 yards a game and its rush defense only gives up 107 a game. Teams have also struggled putting points up against the vaunted ‘Nova defense, as it is only allowing 13 per game. Advantage: Villanova

Special Teams: New Hampshire has one of the best players in the league in Josh Polgar at punter. Polgar, who just shared the A-10 special teams player of the week award (with ‘Nova’s Adam James), is averaging 46.2 yards a kick and boomed a career best 62-yarder last week. Meanwhile, New Hampshire kicker Conor McCormick is 2-for-2 on field goals with a long of 42 and has hit all his extra points. ‘Nova’s special teams all rest on the leg of Adam James, who is 3-for-3 on the season on field goals with a punting average of 44.5. Advantage: Even

Coaching: New Hampshire is led by head coach Sean McDonnell, who is going into his fifth season as the coach of the Wildcats. In his four prior seasons he has tallied a record of 18-26. Last year ‘Nova traveled up to New Hampshire and came home with a comfortable 45-3 victory. Head coach Andy Talley has won the last five meetings with New Hampshire and seems to be coaching the team with more depth this week. But be assured that he will not let his players try to coast to victory.

Advantage: Villanova