Coming off an opening day loss at Temple, and another loss at Towson, the Villanova Wildcats will finally try and get off the snide and earn their first 'W' of the season this Saturday when they host Monmouth for the first time ever on Parents' Weekend.
After a open date last week, Monmouth will look to rebound from a season-opening 49-24 loss at LeHigh. Perhaps lucky for them, they'll get to face a true freshman QB in Chris Polony, who was named the starter after Dustin Thomas was lost with a separated left shoulder (perhaps for the season).
Polony was a highly-touted recruit out of high school, but even at the FCS level it's hard to imagine him stepping into the starter's shoes and finding immediate success. He'll have to rely heavily on his running game and his defense now that Joe Price has joined Norman White in the WR walking-wounded brigade.
After The Jump, we'll talk more about what Monmouth has to offer on both sides of the ball and who should win when 'Nova meets the Hawks on Saturday.
Monmouth On Offense
Senior QB Kyle Frazier will start the game for Monmouth. He went 22-39 for 225 yards through the air, and was also the leading rusher on the day for the Hawks, finishing with 28 yards on 11 carries. Peter Nagy is the top RB for Monmouth, though he was only able to muster 19 yards on the day. Though Monmouth struggled for yardage, they were able to punch it in on the ground for all their touchdowns. If Monmouth looks to establish the run, it should play right into Villanova's hands.
Through the air, Frazier is going to look to his TE Tyler George, who is the leading pass-catcher from a year ago. He caught 8 passes against LeHigh for 72 yards, though he didn't find the endzone. George could pose a threat to Villanova's very green LB's, who've struggled to establish themselves in the first 3 games. Tyler George needs to be a priority on defense. Shut him down and you shut the Monmouth passing attack down.
Monmouth On Defense
There's not too much to worry about in terms of Villanova being dominated like they were against Temple and Towson. The Monmouth defense, after yielding 49 points (albeit to a pretty good LeHigh side), shouldn't strike the fear of God into 'Nova. Though with our offensive struggles, I guess you never know.
Safety Jose Gumbs is the biggest name on defense. He's a bit undersized for your prototypical safety, but he's not afraid to come up in run support and aid a pretty talented defensive line, which is led by defensive tackles Jimmy Lawson and Austin Kugler. 'Nova will definitely be leaning on it's run game, so they should think more about utilizing their superior speed to the outside instead of relying on a young OL to overpower Monmouth's talented inside duo.
Why Monmouth Will Win
Monmouth has never beaten a CAA foe - and it shouldn't start now. As bad as Villanova has been, this is their game. The stadium will be full on Parent's Weekend and despite a rash of injuries, they are still the more talented side in this game. Monmouth is going to win if Villanova continues to be careless with the ball and can't find a way for its defense to get off the field (as was the case against Towson).
Chris Polony needs to grow up quick. This team can't afford to go 0-3 and be reeling heading into CAA play.
Why 'Nova Will Win
I know I said it last week and we lost against Towson - but we're just plain more talented, and finally playing at home in front of a full house should show that. Chris Polony is getting the confidence from his coaches and teammates in interviews, and that should aid him heading into his first college start. He's got a talented stable of RB's to lean on, but he'll need to do some work through the air to keep Monmouth honest.
If he can hit a few passes downfield and be efficient in getting his backfield mates involved in the passing game, it should really open things up and make it a great day for him.
Villanova-Monmouth kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The game will not be on TV, but ESPN Radio (950-AM in Philly) will have the broadcast of the game.