The Villanova Wildcats (2-1) will look to pick up their first road win of the season as they take a short trip up to the Lehigh Valley to face the Lafayette Leopards (1-2) this weekend. The Cats are currently ranked 15/19 and are undefeated in FCS play, including a victory over Lafayette's rival Lehigh. Meanwhile, Lafayette has stumbled the last two weeks, dropping a home game to Delaware and last week's high scoring game at Princeton. The Leopards are looking to get back on track this week as they host Villanova:
Here are three things that Villanova fans should know going into the game:
When You're Here, You're Family
Saturday's game is the centerpiece of Lafayette's Family Weekend event, the equivalent of Villanova's Parent's Weekend. The campus, and more importantly the stadium, is going to be packed with Lafayette fans. This should give the Leopards a home field advantage that is usually only matched by the crowds that attend the annual Lehigh v. Lafayette rivalry. This shouldn't be a new challenge for the Wildcats, who've already faced the biggest away crowd they'll see all season when they played at Pitt week one. That being said, they'll have to overcome the extra juice that Lafayette will get from the large crowd.
But the weekend isn't the only thing making this game a family affair. Brothers John (NOVA) and Rob (LAF) Hinchen will be facing off on the field. In addition two former members of the Lafayette football family, Mark Powell and Shane Brady, are returning to their alma matter as members of the Villanova coaching staff.
Drew Reed Leads A Pass Happy Offense
Senior QB Drew Reed has already thrown for 300+ yards and 3 TD's twice this season, and he's looked good doing it. He's also motivated to show what he can do against a ranked team, saying "Villanova is the most important game on our schedule right now. One game doesn't define our year, but we want to come out with a W." Only Delaware has been able to slow down the Leopards offense, and that can be contributed to injuries on the offensive line.
Now that Reed has fellow senior Nick Zataveski back on the o-line, it'll be key for the Wildcats to find ways to get pressure in the backfield before he has time to do any damage. It's also important because Villanova won't be able to simply lock down one or two receivers, as Reed does a great job spreading the ball around to his many weapons. Junior wide-out Matt Mrazek leads the team with 233 yards and 5 touchdowns, but Reed has a number of options at both wide receiver and tight end. Considering that Villanova will be without starting safety Rasaan Stewart, they'll be relying on their defensive front to apply pressure early and often.
Can't Stop, Won't Stop... The Run
In their last two games against Delaware and Princeton, Lafayette has given up over 400 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. That weakness on run defense could be their downfall as they face a Villanova team that has rushed for over 500 yards and 6 touchdowns in their last two games. The key will be if star linebacker Brandon Bryant can slow down the potent Wildcat rushing attack, especially since the Leopards haven't faced a dual threat QB like Bednarczyk yet this season.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:10 PM this Saturday at Fisher Stadium in Easton, PA.