Villanova vs. Richmond: 3 Keys To Victory

Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

As we edge ever-closer to Saturday night, here are 3 keys for the Villanova Wildcats as they look to win a fifth-straight against Richmond at home

1. Throw the ball early and make them respect the receivers

In each of the last two games the Wildcats looked to pass out of the gate and in each of those games they went into halftime with a solid lead. In the three games prior, the 'Cats were run-heavy early on and trailed at the intermission.

Richmond is currently ranked 90th in the nation in passing defense (though they have 8 interceptions -- 7th-best in FCS). The last two opponents, Maine and Penn are ranked 7th and 60th, respectively, so the 'Cats should be able to compete some passes and move the ball with a mixture of Norm White, Joe Price, Earnest Pettway and Poppy Livers on Saturday night. If they take a lead into halftime, it will allow them to concentrate on the running game in the second half and take some time off of the clock.

Richmond is a much better run-stopping defense, however, but making them worry about the passing game will back that defense up and open lanes for big runs in the second half. Monangai, the CAA rushing leader at the moment will get his yards regardless, but Robertson and his receivers can make it easier on him.

2. Stop the Richmond aerial attack

As good as Villanova's defense has been so far this season, the secondary was exposed a little in Orono. The Black Bears were able to pass for over 400 yards against the 'Cats, a statistic that dropped Nova's defense from number-three in the nation against the pass to number-thirty!

Richmond has the 14th-ranked passing offense in the nation, and they would prefer to air it out and make some big plays. That puts the Villanova secondary on the hot-seat to break up passes and create turnovers through interceptions, and the front-six (isn't the 3-3-5 defense fun?) have to be able to put pressure on Richmond QB John Laub to disrupt their rhythm and make them waste passing downs.

Rakim Cox leads the CAA in sacks and the Villanova defense leads the conference in sacks with 17 (costing 108 yards), so creating pressure shouldn't be an issue.

3. Win on special teams

We have talked a little bit about special teams recently and the difference between a well-covered kickoff or punt and one that is poorly executed can be significant. The unit has to work together to execute their jobs in order to counteract a Richmond special teams unit that has been very strong. Richmond is 28th in net punting, 24th in kickoff returns (with 1 returned for a score) and 25th in punt returns this season -- they sit among the CAA's best on special teams. Nova will have to improve on it's 105th-ranked punt return defense and overachieve on its 52nd-ranked kickoff return defense on Saturday night. Field position had a major impact last weekend as the 'Cats defense given a long leash to get stops against Maine, and that will be important again this week.

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