Last week, faced with a must win the Villanova Wildcats went out and dominated Albany, 37-0. The defense played fantastic, coming up with five turnovers and shutting out the Great Danes. Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk played the best game of his very young career, going 12-12 for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
This week against the Towson Tigers (3-3,1-2 CAA) the Wildcats will attempt to duplicate that performance. Although the record doesn't necessarily show it, this is a very solid Towson team. They lost to FBS East Carolina in week 1, but bounced back, defeating Saint Francis and Holy Cross. They then lost to a struggling Elon team and an undefeated James Madison, before going to Stony Brook and getting back in the win column. It will be very near impossible to shut out and not have an incompletion against this much better Towson team, but a win is certainly not out of the question.
Against the Tigers, it will be yet another week in which the 'Nova defense is facing a very good running back. Darius Victor has rushed for 5.4 yards per carry, and has ran for 9 touchdowns thus far. Last season, he ran for 164 yards on 26 carries and one touchdown against Villanova, so Andy Talley and the rest of his staff will know to key in on him. Victor is rather small at only 5'8", but he is 227 pounds of muscle. Combine that with his quickness, and it is never easy to get him on the turf.
Quarterback Connor Frazier is a very skilled dual-threat quarterback, he can throw it well, but he's not afraid to keep it and pick up a few yards of his own. Frazier has completed on 57.1% of his passes, adding up 1,051 yards including six touchdowns. He has also rushed for 278 yards, and 2 touchdowns through six games.
One of Frazier's favorite targets is Maryland transfer Jacquille Veii, who has added up 24 receptions for 310 yards. Receiver Brain Dowling is right behind Veii, catching 19 balls for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Running backs Gary Underwood and Javon White will have their hands full, trying to get pass a Towson defense that only allows 3.1 yards per carry. Towson has a very strong linebacker group, which includes Gary Handy, Jordan Mynatt, and Malik Jackson. Linebacker Gary Handy leads the Tigers defense, adding up 39 tackles so far on the season. Right behind him is Malik Jackson who's accounted for 37 tackles, and a sack. Jordan Mynatt gets into the backfield often as he has 5.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.
Sack leaders Zain Harps Upshur, Eddie Releford, and Max Tejada each have two on the year. Stopping those three along with the rest of the defensive line is an absolute must is Villanova wants to win this game. The offensive line has struggled for the most part, but they have stretches where they look very good. If the O-line doesn't come to play this Saturday, Bednarczyk will be rushed often, and he'll end up on the ground more than once.
However, the defensive backs for the Tigers have been shaky this year, allowing 206 passing yards a game. One of the area's Bednarczyk has struggled in so far, is turning the ball over. He'll have a good chance to go a 2nd straight week without throwing an interception, as the Towson defense only has 3 picks on the season. After gaining a lot of confidence last week, Zack Bednarczyk will have a very good opportunity to continue his strong play.
Receiver Kevin Gulyas has done a fantastic job getting behind the defense, totaling 398 yards through six games. Gulyas has a great chance to put up big numbers for yet another week, thanks to the struggling corner and safety play at Towson.
Another positive for 'Nova is the improved kicking game. Since taking over the field goal duties, Gerard Smith is 2-2 including a 39 yarder he hit against Albany. He also has been hitting his extra points, making 6 out of his 7 point after attempts.
Every game from here on out is a must win for Villanova. They still have a chance, albeit slim, to make the playoffs. To do that, they have to take it one game at a time. The Wildcats can not take this Towson team lightly, but this week is a chance to take another step in the right direction.