Preview: No. 6 Villanova Wildcats
Flames stay alive, head to Pennsylvania for second round in FCS Playoffs
The Villanova Wildcats finished second in the Colonial Athletic Association Conference, which produced four of the 24 teams in this year’s Football Championship Subdvision (FCS) playoffs. They entered the tournament as the No. 6 ranked team after a 10-2 season.
Villanova boasts a potent running attack and the numbers to back that claim. Villanova currently ranks 10th among FCS teams in rushing yards per game (240.4). However, their leading rusher is no running back, but instead is junior quarterback John Robertson, who is also second on the team in rushing touchdowns.
Not only has the junior dashed defenses on the ground, Robertson has done it through the air as well. Robertson, who has the third highest rushing yards for an FCS quarterback, also leads all FCS quarterbacks with a 183 passing efficiency rating. He is second in the nation in passing touchdowns (34), while only throwing three interceptions. He is a quarterback who spreads the wealth, as he has connected with 10 different receivers for touchdowns this season.
Villanova’s defense has also been a key factor to the Wildcats success this season. While teams average 250 passing yards per game against the Wildcats, they only average 106 rushing yards, which is less than half of Villanova’s average. Junior linebacker Don Cherry has been big for the Wildcats defense. Cherry leads the team in tackles and also forced a team-high five fumbles, one of which he recovered, according to villanova.com/sports.
The offense of the Wildcats may have been a force this season, but it does have its weak points. Villanova frequently runs the ball, which has led to a fumbling problem. They have fumbled 12 times this season, averaging one a game. Penalties have also plagued this team. They average around eight penalties, accounting for nearly 67 yards a game.
In order for the Flames to continue this historic run at an FCS Championship, they will have to accomplish something that no team has done this season: beat Villanova at home. Villanova Stadium has proven to be a difficult place to play for opponents, as visitors are 1-10 in the past two seasons.
Editor’s note: all statistics obtained from ncaa.com unless otherwise stated.
HAYWOOD is the asst. sports editor.