(Editor's Note: Let's welcome Mike D. to the staff! He'll be helping out with football and basketball - and maybe some other stuff - going forward.)
Are you ready for a top 20 matchup in week two?!
Fordham is a long way from the team that was taken behind the woodshed by Villanova last year. Last year Fordham came to Main Line and was run off the field in their 50-6 loss to the Cats. This year is shaping up to be more of a battle than last year.
Nova took the fight to UConn, but came up short in their 20-15 loss last week. John Robertson got off to a little bit of rocky start to his Walter Payton Award defense, throwing 1 TD and running for 1 TD, but threw an INT and completed just over 50% of his passes. Look for Robertson to have a bounce-back game against Fordham, especially in the run game. Fordham gave up 256 yards rushing (6.1 ypc) to the Army Black Knights, an option running team. Villanova's running attack should see success against a re-tooled and young defense that is only returning two starters from last years playoff team.
While Fordham took down their FBS opponent, Army, 37-35, in a high scoring matchup with little run defense on either side. But there was plenty of offense, especially from star Running Back, Chase Edmonds, who ripped the Black Knights for 250 all purpose yards and 3 TD's. Chase Edmonds did it on the ground and receiving, Edmonds had 110 yards rushing (5.5 ypc) and 140 yards on just 6 catches, that's an explosive threat. Fordham is also featuring a new QB, Marshall transfer Kevin Anderson, who had a great game with 322 yards, thanks in large part to Chase Edmonds. A key to Fordham's victory last week was winning the turnover battle, in a close game like that it was critical. Villanova will need to win the turnover battle Saturday if the game stays close.
A key matchup to watch on offense for Villanova will be the best player in FCS -- arguably in all of college football -- John Robertson, against the re-tooled Fordham defense, especially former Defensive Player of the Year, Stephen Hodge. John Robertson is a very dynamic, athletic, dual threat quarterback who will be licking his chops to go against this porous Fordham defense that gave up 256 yards rushing to Army. Army has a triple-option offense that relies heavily on running and very little on passing, but that option offense also put up 133 yards through the air. With all due respect to Army, they do not have a single player as dynamic a John Robertson. Fordham will be in for a long night if they cannot improve their run defense and if they do, Robertson will look to attack them through the air. Robertson destroyed the FCS with 36 passing TD's, 2800+ passing yards,1000+ rushing yards and 11 rushing TDs.
The supporting cast around Robertson will need to step up their game this week however. In the UConn game the WR's were struggling to get open against a very tough UConn defense. The Offensive Line also had a tough game against the strong front line of UConn, it should be easier against Fordham and we will see if there is cause for concern for the Nova front-line. Another big concern for Nova is the health RB Gary Underwood who is questionable for the game after taking a hard hit to his chest in the UConn game. One thing is for sure, Robertson will need help from the receivers and the offensive line to keep up with a strong Fordham offense. Speaking of which...
The Fordham offense versus the Nova defense, strength vs strength, will be another key matchup. Fordham's strength against Army was Chase Edmonds, he lit up Army for 110 yards on the ground, but 5.5 ypc and 140 yards receiving. Opposing that, Nova held a strong UConn running game to just 2.7 ypc and 1 TD. While Chase Edmonds was unstoppable for Fordham, the Wildcats' defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon manhandled whoever he was lined up against.
Fordham also had a bright spot with their new QB, Kevin Anderson, throwing for 300+ yards, Nova should provide a tougher challenge with their cornerbacks. The Nova cornerbacks had a couple of lackluster plays last week with missed tackles and a missed assignment on a 69 yard TD, but outside of those plays, the DB's looked very strong and will make it tough on Fordham receivers.
The key to this game will be how the Nova offensive line and wide receivers bounce back from an average performance and give Robertson the support he needs to have a big game. The other key is how well the Nova defense does against Chase Edmonds, they shut him down last year, I definitely do not expect that, but they will need to slow him down and make Fordham one-dimensional so they can unleash Tanoh Kpassagnon.
Nova has a tough three game slate to open the year, just ask Head Coach Andy Talley who said, "This is the three-toughest game start we've had in my career here." Coming out 1-1 after two really tough road games will be a huge step in the right direction for this Nova Football team with high aspirations!
Expect to see a great bounce back performance for the Nova Offense this week, strap in for a great top-20 game on Saturday at 6pm on the Main Line!!