Football prepares for Fordham after loss to Huskies

Eugene Rapay

The football team has found itself in a familiar situation. 

Last year, after a tough one-point loss in overtime to FBS-team Syracuse, the Wildcats bounced back with a 50-6 blowout win over Fordham.

Now, coming off of a loss to UConn, Villanova has another opportunity to get back on track with another FCS opener against the Rams.

Despite losing two-time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Michael Nebrich and three 1,000-yard receivers to graduation, Fordham has done pretty well for itself thus far.

The Rams opened up the 2015 season with a 37-35 upset win over Army. The Black Knights failed to connect on a 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter that could have sent the game into overtime.

Fordham running back Chase Edmonds had a stellar game, rushing for 110 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. He also had six receptions for 140 yards. 

Edmonds, a sophomore, is one of Fordham’s key returning skill position players. He rushed for 1,838 yards (6.3 ypc) and 23 touchdowns as a true freshman last season. 

In fact, his play on the field earned him the Jerry Rice Award, an award given to the most outstanding freshman in FCS.  Expect most of the offensive production to run through him.

Linebacker Niko Thorpe, also a sophomore, shined on defense for the Rams. While the game against Army was more of an offensive shootout on both sides, Thorpe tallied a game-high 11 tackles. 

The Rams may have all these impressive young guns, but they also have the veteran experience and leadership to complement them. 

Stephen Hodge, a fifth-year senior, is happy to be back on the gridiron. Hodge missed all of last season due to an injury he sustained during fall camp. 

The last time he set foot on the football field, he was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. He also led the FCS in solo tackles. 

As for the secondary, J.Q. Bowers is back in his domain. The senior defensive back will be a starter for the second straight season, although he has gotten a lot of playing time since his sophomore year. 

In the win over Army, Bowers had an important second quarter interception that helped Fordham maintain the lead going into halftime. 

Junior quarterback Kevin Anderson looked impressive in his starting debut. Anderson spent most of last season on the bench after transferring from Marshall. With Nebrich gone, all eyes are on him.

Although he did not have any touchdown passes, he threw for a solid 322 yards – completing 15 of 23 pass attempts. He added another 34 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

For the Wildcats to get their first win of the season, they will have to correct a few things that led to their demise in the UConn game. 

With a talented running back like Edmonds, the defense cannot afford to miss any tackles. There were a number of plays against the Huskies that should have been minimal gains, but instead became much more due to a missed tackle or two. 

Last year, Villanova completely shut him down, and Fordham as a whole for that matter. The Wildcats limited him to nine carries for a loss of five yards, his worst game of the season.

Most of the offense will flow through Edmonds, who will surely be looking forward to redeeming himself against Villanova. 

Fordham has the firepower that will allow it to win most games solely off its offense. This was proven true last year, when the Rams scored fewer than 30 points only two times.

Although only one game has been played so far this season, they are trending in the right direction. The Wildcat defense will be important in paving the way to victory. Should it falter, Villanova’s offense will need to be in-sync.

Between the turnovers and miscues on offense, the smooth-moving Villanova offense did not seem like itself out there. 

While QB John Robertson had some nice plays, including a 22-yard scramble to convert third-and-long, he didn’t seem to be on the same page as his receivers at times. There were a couple of under and overthrown balls.

It didn’t help that running back Gary Underwood was hurt for part of the game. 

He kept the defense honest, rushing the ball and receiving a few passes to advance the offense. He even completed a phenomenal 36-yard pass off of a trick play. 

Underwood should be back in action for this week’s Fordham game, after leaving the UConn game midway through the second quarter due to a chest injury. 

Villanova will head to the Bronx in search for its first win of the 2015 season. 

If last year is an indication of anything, the Wildcats should be successful.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12.