With the Pope on his way to Philadelphia, the Villanova Wildcats will play in their second Thursday game of the season as they take on the Penn Quakers. While there is a lot of excitement over the papal visit, the shortened week couldn't come at a worse time for Coach Andy Talley's team. Not only are players still recovering from the 28-21 victory over the always hard-hitting Delaware Blue Hens, but the team will be without multiple starters due to injury.
Quarterback John Robertson, suffered a PCL injury during the 4th quarter of Saturday's game, will be out "indefinitely" according to Talley after an MRI on Monday. Left tackle Brad Seaton will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury and will likely be replaced in the starting lineup by tight end Doug Turrell. Jake Prus, who was cleared to play less than a week ago after donating bone marrow earlier this season, will likely return to the starting line-up after coming off the bench against Delaware. Freshman Ethan Greenidge may also be asked to start for the second week in a row, despite leaving last week's game with an ankle injury.
Normally, starting a freshman QB behind a make-shift offensive line would be a nightmare for Wildcat fans. But CAA Freshman of the Week, Zach Bednarczyk, inspired Nova Nation after entering into the game late and rallying the team to a come from behind victory. Following the game, Talley said of the Freshman:
I can't say enough about Zach Bednarczyk. To come in cold like that at quarterback and do what he did, is probably as good a quarterbacking job as we've had here in my years. Where the second guy goes in and figures out how to help you win the game, both with his arm and with his feet.
Bednarczyk won't be alone out there, as he inherits the exceptionally talented weapons Villanova has at its skill positions. Running backs Gary Underwood and Javon White will look to rebound from a tough game against a strong Delaware run defense. Kevin Gulyas and Aaron Wells will look to lead the receiving core that should find plenty of holes in the Penn Defense.
Outside of the injuries, Villanova's biggest obstacle to overcome is the kicking game. Against Delaware, Coach Talley chose to either punt or go for it on every 4th down of the game rather than let kicker Steve Weyler attempt a field goal. His mistrust became even more evident when Weyler missed what would have been the game tying extra point in the 4th quarter.
On the Penn side, Head Coach Ray Priore will try to do what his predecessor Al Bagnoli never could and get a win at Villanova Stadium. The Quakers haven't defeated the Wildcats in over 100 years, and recent history would predict that the trend will continue.
In Penn's first game of the season last week, they fell to Lehigh 42-21, surrendering 495 total yards on defense. Lehigh's quarterback, a dual threat similar to Bednarczyk, threw for 3 touchdowns and rushed for 2 more. Villanova should have no problem putting up points.
This could, however, turn into a shoot out as junior quarterback Alek Torgersen continues to climb Penn's all time leader board for career passing yards. Last week against Lehigh, Torgerson threw for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns and added another score with his legs. His go to receiver, Justin Watson, recorded a career high 10 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown. Also challenging the VIllanova defense will be sophomore running back Tre Solomon, who carried the ball 11 times for 89 yards. For the Quakers to have a shot at victory, their offense will need to be running on all cylinders.