It’s homecoming weekend Nova Nation! Many alumni and their families will be returning to campus to reconnect with old classmates, tailgate around the campus, and attend
the morning’s basketball scrimmage the annual homecoming football game. This year’s opponent is the #23 ranked Albany Great Danes who come into the weekend at 4-2.
Albany was projected to finish 11th in the conference, but a strong start vaulted them in the rankings. Unfortunately, back to back losses in the past two weeks to Richmond and Maine have dropped them to just 1-2 in CAA play. A win against ranked Villanova would be a huge step back in the right direction, but that’s easier said than done.
Here are three things to know heading into Saturday’s game:
There’s No Place Like Home(coming)
Villanova is 33-18 all-time in homecoming games, including a victory over then #9 Richmond last season. The team is undefeated at home this season, winning by a combined 101 to 42. That includes a shutout (35-0) in their last home game against Rhode Island.
The defense has been the star for Villanova this season, often carrying an offense that’s still trying to find it’s identity. They should get a lot of support from the homecoming crowd, but points will again be hard to come by. Albany’s defense is only giving up just over 14 points per game on the road this season.
QB Will Be The Key
A pair of sophomore quarterbacks will lead these two teams on the field Saturday, and both are looking for bounce back games. For Villanova, Zach Bednarczyk will look to improve on the worst performance of his career, throwing for just 67 yards and two interceptions before being pulled in the first half. While the Wildcats’ ground attack has been effective in previous games, we have yet to see consistency in the passing game. The Wildcat QB did have a great game against the Great Danes last season, going a perfect 12-12 for 152 yards and two scores.
Albany will counter with their own sophomore QB, Neven Sussman. He also put up a poor showing last week on the road against Maine, throwing for 187 yards, an interception, and no touchdowns in a losing effort. Like Bednarczyk, Sussman has the ability to scramble effectively, especially in the red zone. Both defenses will need to get pressure on the quarterback without losing containment if they want to keep their opponent from a rebound performance.
Hold Onto The Ball!
Albany’s biggest advantage this season has been forcing their opponents into turning over the football. Through 6 games they have created over 20 turnovers, including 12 interceptions and 9 fumble recoveries. They’ve also been pretty good at not turning the ball back over either, with a total turnover +/- of +15.
The Wildcats have been okay in the turnover department themselves, with just 8 turnovers and a +/- of +4. It will be crucial that they hold onto the ball, especially in their own territory. Albany has been solid at converting near the goal line with a red zone efficiency of 70%.