The Wildcats are coming off of a 20-point win over the Morgan State Bears last weekend on Homecoming, and are now tasked with traveling to Richmond, Virginia to face-off with the 13th-ranked Spiders. This will be the first trip by the Wildcats to Richmond since the 2009 season.
Villanova quarterback John Robertson will look to get back on the horse this week after his five touchdowns against Morgan State were not sufficient to secure the league's player-of-the-week honors over JMU's Vad Lee. Richmond has moved on from quarterback Michael Strauss, who is injured, and is going with the coach's nephew, Michael Rocco in his stead.
We reached out to John O'Connor (@RTDjohnoconnor) of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Charlie Broaddus of the UR Collegian, to get caught up on the Spiders. For more of the RTD's coverage of Richmond Sports, check out their website, and for more of the Collegian, check out their sports pages.
(1) Quarterback Michael Strauss and receiver Stephen Barnette are both done for the season for the Spiders, how bad are those losses? How did they deal with the losses against Elon?
O'Connor (RTD): The losses of Strauss and Barnette can be handled, and were against Elon, because those are the two positions at which the Spiders had quality depth. Michael Rocco, now Richmond's quarterback, made 21 starts for Virginia before transferring. WR is the deepest position on the team.
Broaddus (URC):The losses hurt because of leadership, but the team has the talent to win without them. The receiving corps is the deepest position on the team, and Mike Rocco is an experienced player who can step in a run the offense effectively. The team honestly didn't miss a beat against Elon.
(2) Andy Talley talked about how big and physical Richmond is; how do they take advantage of that? Is Villanova a favorable match-up in that regard?
RTD: Though Richmond is big on the offensive line, the Spiders have commonly struggled to run the ball. Richmond has been a good pass-protection team.
URC: I would say almost every team is a favorable matchup in that regard. The team's offensive line is huge, and the weight coach has a background in the SEC. The team is strong and powerful and they use that, as is evident by the recent success of the defensive line.
(3) Evan Kelly looked good last weekend against Elon, are there any other key players on the defense that we should keep an eye on?
RTD: They key for me Saturday is Richmond's ability to be mobile on the defensive front. The Spiders have used several different combinations up front to add speed, or bulk. Richmond has struggled against running QBs and, obviously, Villanova has one of the best in the country.
URC: Justin Williamson is another guy on the defensive line that is super explosive and just a flat out beast. Keep an eye on him and linebackers Eric Wright and Aaron Roane-- they tend to make plays every game that make a difference.
(4) Richmond is 6-2 with two no-shame losses to UVA and UNH, but one of the tougher stretches in the schedule coming up, what do you think the ceiling is for this team?
RTD: Richmond has 21 seniors, a large number for FCS. The Spiders seem as primed as they're going to be to make a run. They probably need to win three of four to get into the playoffs. That will be very challenging given the opposition, much tougher than to this point. But Richmond can score, and that gives the Spiders a chance against anybody.
URC: I think the ceiling for this team is to win out. It barely lost to UNH, and I feel it has a good chance against Nova if it avoids mistakes. Nova is the best team the Spiders play from here on out, so if they win this weekend I think they will win out.
(5) This is Villanova's first trip to Richmond's new stadium. How would you rate the facilities there? What are the best and worst things about it?
RTD: Richmond has good facilities for an FCS program. The stadium is relatively small but high-quality.
URC: The facilities here are high-end. The stadium is super nice and they're constantly renovating something to keep everything up to date. I'd say the football stadium is the most impressive aspect about our athletic facilities.