Fresh off a much needed bye week, Villanova will host CAA rivals William & Mary at Villanova Stadium this Saturday at 12:00pm ET. The Wildcats (2-2) will need to quickly forget their worst home loss in recent memory, because this would appear to be one of the toughest games left on their schedule. The Tribe (2-2) are coming off a tough loss of their own, a last-second 24-23 loss on the road to Delaware.
This is a series that has provided some exhilarating contests in recent years, and with both teams still trying to find their footing, it may very well be another classic. Here are three things you need to know about the Tribe:
Mikal Abdul-Saboor is very good, but may be hobbled
The star player on the offense is senior running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor. He's the workhose and the guy that the Tribe will lean on to keep the offense moving. Abdul-Saboor did not play in last week's loss to Delaware because of an injury sustained the week before. No word yet on the severity as head coach Jimmye Laycock plays his status close to the vest. If he can't go, Kendell Anderson will be more than ready to pick up the slack. He ran for 191 yards against Stony Brook after Abdul-Saboor went down, and then followed it up with 101 yards against Delaware last week.
Ironically, Villanova has done a pretty good job against William & Mary in the past. They've held Abdul-Saboor under 100 yards in each of the last 2 meetings, though Anderson broke off a big run last year. It's a given that stopping the running game will be a focus again.
QB Steve Cluley is efficient and can be deadly
The Tribe like to use the running game to set up play-action downfield. If they're successful, it's pretty easy for Steve Cluley to put up yards in a very efficient manner. While he didn't have his best game against Delaware last week, he had been very good in the first three games of the season.
Cluley lit up the Wildcats last year to the tune of 350 yards passing and 3 touchdowns - and that was after Villanova shut down the run. The Villanova pass defense appeared to be much improved from a season ago - until they were torched by Penn. Now they'll have an even stiffer test to deal with.
Jimmye Laycock is more tenured than Andy Talley
Talley took over the Wildcats in 1985, but Laycock as been the head of the the Tribe since 1980. These are the two veterans in the CAA, and both are respective legends at their school. It's no surprise that most of the games between these two CAA powerhouses usually come down to the wire. At this point, it's not often that these two can surprise each other.
With both teams sitting at 2-2 on the season, this will be a major turning point in each coaches' season. Which one can go deep in to his bag of tricks to ensure that their team comes out on top?