Four wins on the bounce for Villanova after an 0-2 start have 'Nova Nation buzzing again. The Wildcats moved up to #11/12 in the latest FCS polls, and will look to continue their surge this weekend when they visit the New Hampshire Wildcats. The game is scheduled for Saturday at 12 pm ET and can be seen on Comcast SportsNet.
Here's what 'Nova needs to do to beat UNH, and make it five straight wins overall.
1. No early letdowns
Villanova got a first-hand look at how slow starts can kill a game when they used three early turnovers to take a 21-0 lead they would never relinquish against Towson. It's human nature to suffer a little bit of a letdown after a monumental achievement like the victory against Towson.
In his Monday press conference, Andy Talley talked about the coaching staff not letting the players get too high or too low in any given week, but with a long road trip to Durham, NH ahead and a home showdown with #14 Maine looming the week after, he'll likely face his toughest challenge to date to keep his players focused.
2. The efficiency of John Robertson
With the entire nation beginning to take notice of John Robertson's ability to run the ball, I was more impressed with his passing attack against Towson. If the 17-18 line wasn't impressive enough, consider the seven different receivers he hit with passes to keep the defense off balance.
While Robertson's passing game was far from vertical last week (mostly by design), his accuracy throwing the ball and his quick decisions put his playmakers like Jamal Abdur-Rahman in place to make some big plays down the field after the catch.
Spreading the ball around opened up the middle of the field for the rushing attack, allowing Sam Venuto and Robertson to attack the defense in a multitude of ways without exposing Robertson to an unnecessary amount of hits.
3. Opportunistic defense
The Villanova defense had the perfect recipe for success against Towson in forcing five turnovers, including three within the first eight minutes of the contest. By my count, a couple of potential INTs that were dropped by Corey Reeder and Craig James were the only missed opportunities by the Villanova defense (and both of those were very tough plays).
Cameron McCurry has been massive in replacing Ronnie Akins as the leading playmaker on the Villanova defense, and Joe Sarnese and Joey Harmon have really stepped up their games in recent weeks as well. If Rakim Cox, Antoine Lewis and Pat Williams can apply consistent pressure, it could force QB Sean Goldrich into some mistakes that could give the 'Nova offense a good chance to convert into easy points.
What are your keys to a Villanova victory on Saturday afternoon?