When Villanova takes the field at noon, it will be a match-up of the last two FCS football national champions with the 2008 title-winning Richmond Spiders coming to Villanova Stadium for an exciting Halloween-weekend game.
The Richmond Spiders are currently ranked 14th in the FCS polls, while Villanova clocked in at #5 this week. The 3-loss Spiders are rolling on a mini-win streak in conference play after beating UMass and Towson in the last two weeks. The Wildcats are one of three one-loss (in conference play) teams sitting atop the CAA football standings.
Richmond lost their starting quarterback, USC transfer Aaron Corp, to a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago, and since then, their passing game has been ineffective. They won the last two games on the ground with only 47 and 73 yard passing, respectively.
The Richmond offense averages less than 20 points per game, but when they do score, it is thanks to the hard work of runners Kendall Gaskins, Tyler Kirchoff, Garrett Wilkins and Jovan Smith. Smith also takes snaps under center in the Spiders' version of the Wildcat package, and while he has not yet thrown a pass in college, he had some success throwing the ball as a high-school quarterback.
The Wildcats are currently ranked 5th nationally in rushing defense (84.1 ypg) and in scoring defense (14.9 ppg). Andy Talley's defense will be planning to shut down the run game again this weekend, regardless of who might be throwing the ball.
This is another week where the Wildcats should be able to move the ball on offense by mixing some passes to Dorian Wells, Norman White or Mikey Reynolds. Though Matt Szczur will not likely suit up for the game, the Villanova passing game has opened up since establishing itself in Maine a few weeks ago.
As Fact on Villanova Sports suggests, the keys to winning this game are: 1) Stop the run, 2) Watch out for gadget plays, 3) Throw the ball, and 4) Don't let up after getting a lead.
Here's the video that assistant coach Nick Kray prepared to psych-up his players for the game:
Villanova looms as formidable test for capable UR defense [Richmond Times-Dispatch]