Andy Talley and his squad had the biggest game of their season last week. With already three losses on the year, but only one in the CAA, a win would increase the Wildcats shot at the playoffs and a lose would diminish all hope of postseason glory. Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk threw for 245 yards but had two interceptions, both of which were returned for a touchdown. On the other side of the ball, the combination of Darius Victor and Connor Frazier was too much for the defense, leading to a 28-21 loss.
However, there are still games to be played and the next one comes against the Maine Black Bears (3-4, 3-1 CAA) on Halloween night at Villanova stadium.
The Black Bears happen to have the same record as the Cats, but all of their victories have come in conference play. Maine started off the season with a very tough slate facing off against two FBS teams on the road. Those two were Boston College and Tulane, and both games ended in blowout losses. Maine began CAA play with a win against Rhode Island, a loss at Richmond, and then winning in Albany. The Black Bears went on to lose to Yale and then defeated Stony Brook last Saturday to set the stage for their showdown against Villanova.
Another week, another matchup where the Villanova defense will be facing a solid running back. Sophomore Nigel Beckford is only 5'9", 195, but he averages four yards a carry and has scored four times this season. However, 'Nova's defense has only allowed 3.4 yards per carry on the year. Combine that with the fact that Maine doesn't have particularly strong backup running backs, and 'Nova might just be able to keep Beckford from playing a large role this weekend.
The Villanova secondary hasn't been bad either, allowing only 161.4 passing yards per game. At quarterback for Maine, Dan Collins and Drew Belcher both get time. Collins has played in all seven games and has completed 49.5% of his passes for 1005 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
On the other hand, Belcher has only played in five game and has only thrown 52 passes. Still, Drew has completed 65.4% of his passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns. Belcher is also a very big running threat as he is second on the team in rushing attempts, and second in yards accumulating 146.
Facing two quarterbacks is always a bit of a challenge for a defense, but when the differences between the two QB's are so vast it only increases the challenge. It will be especially tough on Don Cherry, Austin Calitro, and the rest of the linebacker core. When Collins is in the defense won't have to worry as much about him keeping it, but when it's Belcher under center they have to be much more careful because he can keep it and make you pay.
Redshirt freshman wide out Micah Wright is a tremendous downfield threat. He currently has racked up 498 yards (71.1 a game) and has caught three touchdown passes. Jordan Dunn isn't as quite a threat as Wright is, but he has still caught one touchdown, and averages 47.1 receiving yards a game.
On defense, linebacker Patrick Ricard leads the way. Ricard has 11 tackles for loss on the year, and has added five sacks. Defensive end Trevor Bates is right behind Ricard, totaling 9.5 tackles for loss and having five sacks of his own. It is imperative that the Villanova offensive line comes to play this Saturday. If they continue their struggles, Bednarczyk will end up on the ground more than just once or twice.
If Bednarczyk can stay on his feet, this is a good opportunity for him to bounce back after a tough previous outing. He will be facing a Black Bears secondary that allows 217 yards per game through the air.
Maine might also be under .500 on the season, but taken in context with the schedule three of their four losses were against very good teams. Add to that the Wildcats recent struggles, and it all adds up to a very tough matchup come Halloween night.