Villanova vs. James Madison: 3 keys to victory

CAA Football

Here are 3 keys for the Villanova Wildcats to come out the victors against James Madison on Saturday afternoon.

It may be a good thing that Villanova's offense skews heavily toward the running game, since the receiving options for quarterback John Robertson are slowly dwindling. WR Joe Price is possibly out for the seasonWR Jamal Abdur-Rahman is having surgery that will take him out until the playoffs (if Nova makes it), while Mike Burke was banged-up on Saturday against Maine.

Still, Robertson is a one-man offensive machine. With help or without it, he has been keeping the Wildcats on the scoreboard.

Every game is a must-win for Nova down the stretch if they hope to make it to the playoffs. Even with four-losses, the nation's toughest FCS schedule should give the 'Cats an edge with the playoff committee. Here's what 'Nova needs to do to beat JMU.

1. Defense

The defense just wasn't there last Saturday as Villanova gave up a scoring play to Maine on each of the Black Bears' first six drives. They gave up yardage on both the ground and through the air, though the 337 yards that Maine QB Marcus Wasilewski was allowed to pass for was the biggest ding in the 'Cats armor.

Villanova's defense has had injuries of its own, and if the front seven are not able to put pressure on JMU quarterback Michael Birdsong, the secondary is going to need to make some big plays. William & Mary picked off Birdsong last week and he has nine interceptions in eight games this season. The Dukes' relatively-balanced offense could give 'Nova fits, if the defense can't figure things out early.

2. Anyone but Robertson

Against Maine, Robertson ripped his proverbial-shirt off to reveal the "S" on his chest. Of the 386 yards that Villanova gained on offense, the sophomore quarterback accounted for 335 all by himself. The Wildcats need another threat to take pressure off of the super-soph, and open things up.

Poppy Livers is the top target in the passing game now, and Robertson will have to find a reliable number-two by Saturday. In the running game, the Wildcats will be well-served to hand the ball off to an actual running back more than the nine times they did so on homecoming.

3. Avoid Penalties

The Wildcats hardly have a problem committing penalties, so it seems odd to make this a key to the game. The 'Cats have committed the third-fewest penalties in the CAA this season and had only two flags thrown against them last week. However, the penalties they were charged with hurt the most -- giving up field position to Maine after a kickoff, down two with 4 minutes left -- a 15-yard facemask helped Maine seal victory.

The avoidable penalties in close games need to be eliminated. Villanova had no room for error after scoring with 4:17 left on the clock, and making the mistake of pulling a facemask was not an error they could afford.

What are your keys to a Villanova victory on Saturday afternoon?

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