1. Stop the run
Running back Donald Russell is easily the Panthers' best player, when he got going against Rhode Island he went for 201 yards and three touchdowns. In their 6 previous games — all losses — the Panthers broke 100 yards rushing just once (against Richmond), with Russel getting 126 yards on the ground and one touchdown. GSU is averaging 121.9 yards per game rushing after their blowout win over Rhode Island and 145.2 in CAA games. They are getting better as the season goes on and the ground game seems to be leading the way.
Georgia State ideally needs Russell to have a big game to get things going offensively, so stopping the run will be very important.
2. Establish the running game
When Villanova is able to run for 200 or more yards, they are usually in great shape to win games. Chewing up that much yardage on the ground allows the 'Cats to control the game clock and keep their defense well-rested. That strategy worked particularly well against Old Dominion last weekend, since it also kept the high-powered ODU offense off of the field. The Panthers are ranked near the bottom of the conference in rushing defense and closer to the top in passing defense (in CAA games only), so the opportunity to pick up yardage on the ground should be there.
3. Win field position on special teams
This will be Villanova's only game in a dome this season, but that means that almost every kick and punt will be unaffected by wind and other weather conditions. That could help in some situations, but it also means balls may not be carried further downfield either. Mark Hamilton will need to have a great game in the dome to get the 'Cats solid field position through the game. GSU's Albert Wilson is second in the conference in punt return average.
Pinning the opponent back with a good punt or kickoff will go a long way toward getting a stop on defense.