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Avoiding turnovers the key for Villanova QB Zach Bednarczyk in 2016

An older and wiser Bednarczyk could mean good things for 'Nova.

Matt Gregory

Entering his third year in the program, all signs point to (RS) sophomore Zach Bednarczyk as the starting quarterback for Villanova in 2016. A year ago, Bednarczyk was thrust into the starting job when John Robertson was lost for the season. While the season never hit the preseason heights that were expected, Bednarczyk wasn't all that bad.

Bednarczyk came in as a dual-threat quarterback and showed last year he's plenty capable of running the ball in Villanova's spread offense.

Year Team Games Rush Attempts Yards Yard/Rush TDs
2015 Villanova 9 106 515 4.9 5

Almost 5 yards a carry is very good for any player, and a luxury at the QB position. Only time will tell if he becomes the type of rushing threat that he predecessor was, but the Wildcats really don't even need him to be. Bednarczyk needs to remain enough of a threat that the defense needs to keep an eye on him, not the focal point of the attack. If he can punish defenses when they leave him uncovered, he should be able to have another nice season.

The area that needs improvement? His passing stats from a year ago:

Year Team Games Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Yard/Attempt TDs Int Sacked
2015 Villanova 9 122 210 58.1 1396 6.6 10 7 18

That's good for a passer efficiency rating of 122.9 - not great, but not bad either. It's decidedly average when compared with other QBs in both the FCS and FBS. The difference with Bednarczyk is that he wasn't "average" in 2015, but rather fluctuated pretty wildly between outstanding and terrible. Turnovers were the main catalyst for his fortune.

Of his seven INTs, four of them were returned for touchdowns. Add in a few fumbles - including one that was returned for a touchdown - and it becomes painfully obvious that these weren't just drive killers, but game-changing turnovers. It doesn't matter how good your defense is when the scoring is happening while they're on the sideline.

Part of that is just some bad luck and timing. Mostly though, it's just a young player trying to make a big play for his team. That should get corrected with more experience and command of the offense.

The other big question is the supporting cast. Bednarczyk has the entire stable of running backs returning and a good offensive line. That should help ease the pressure that falls on his shoulders. His targets in the passing game are another story. Safety blankets Kevin Gulyas and Doug Turrell are gone, which means that new guys are going to need to step up.

Jarrett McClenton should be a fun weapon in the slot. Lincoln Collins, Taurus Phillips and Alex Padovani can all claim experience. Brandon Chadbourn is back after redshirting due to injury, and a trio of talented freshmen will compete for playing time. At least right now, it's a group missing a "sure thing" and that is reason enough for concern.

There's reason for optimism though. Bednarczyk's good games were, in fact, spectacular. A pefect passing day against Albany showed that when he's under control, he has the goods. His come-from-behind win (and great all-around play) against Richmond showed he's not afraid of the moment.

A year older and wiser (and maybe a little change in luck) should mean that at the very least, Bednarczyk won't make the same mistakes quite as often. That's enough of an improvement to suggest a step forward - and possible return to the Playoffs - for Villanova.