Injuries have been no small problem for the Villanova Wildcats this season. They lost cornerback Trey Johnson in preseason, then once the season started, defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon, linebacker Corey Majors, tight end Earnest Pettway, offensive lineman Ross Hall and running back Gary Underwood have all been missing considerable time this season with injuries. That's the bad news.
The good news is that a lot of those athletes will be returning to the field soon -- at least in time for the playoffs.
Kpassagnon could be back as soon as the regular season finale at the University of Delaware. He has been missing from action since suffering a knee injury in the James Madison game in week four. The 6-7, 285-pound defensive end played in all 11 games last season and was an All-CAA academic team member. This season, he provided an athletic body with the ability to shed his blocker and get into the backfield and should augment a strength on the 'Cats defense when he returns.
Making the playoffs should see most of those key players returning to the field.
"We'll get some guys back, we're gonna get our tight end back, Earnest Pettway, we'll get Tanoh Kpassagnon back, we'll get [tailback] Gary Underwood back, and we'll get [center] Ross Hall back," head coach Andy Talley stated. "I mean, there's three extremely-valuable players for us that aren't playing right now."
All of the injured players listed were starters at their respective positions, except for Underwood who played a key role as a back-up in Villanova's run-first offense.
Gary Underwood was doing a tremendous job filling in for Austin Medley as the number-2 running back for the Wildcats before going down with a knee injury in the Morgan State game. He collected 343 yards on 46 attempts (7.5 average) running the ball this season and had 4 touchdowns, and had 175 yards and 3 more touchdowns receiving as well (15.9 ypc).
Pettway was having a big season leading up to his injury, catching 9 passes for 120 yards (13.3 ypc) and 4 touchdowns after five games. He was becoming a pretty key receiver for John Robertson prior to being sidelined and offered a big, athletic target in the middle of the field and red zone.