Villanova heads to Rhode Island on Saturday for a non-televised affair, having lost three games on the bounce. The Wildcats currently sit at 4-5 on the season, and though stranger things have happened, they will not be participating in the FCS playoffs this season.
While disappointing, this team is clearly in a funk, and a game against a lowly opponent might be just what the doctor ordered to get Talley's squad back on track before the season finale against Delaware at PPL Park, where the Wildcats will have the chance to play the spoiler to Delaware's turnaround season.
Here are three keys to victory for Villanova this Saturday.
1. Commit to the run
Seriously, run the dang ball. John Robertson has the potential to be an efficient passer of the football (channeling my Jon Gruden there - and yes I'm doing the pyscho stare at the computer as I type this), but he's only going to pass well when the running game is cooking. JMU successfully bottled him up with Stephon Robertson, and even though Kevin Monangai was having some success, the play-calling kept going for the pass.
Monangai has had a disappointing season, but they should lean on him in this game. He appears to be a player who improves with more carries, and he's been scarcely afforded the chance to prove himself this season. Get him going, and things will open up for the QB's arm and legs.
Rhode Island's offense shouldn't pose much of a threat for the struggling 'Nova defense - if they make the plays they should make. Poor tackling has plagued the Wildcats' D for weeks, with poor form, and poor pursuit to blame for a startling lack of third down stops that could get the defense off the field quickly.
Rams quarterback Bob Bentsen has shown he can make some plays with his arm this season, so bringing down his wide receivers early before the big play can break will be vital.
3. Keep the faith
It's been a trying three weeks for 'Nova after their massive win over Towson. The season has fallen apart, and quickly. It's easy for the players to lose their commitment and start thinking about next season, but there is still a job to be done.
This is a chance to get the mojo back before the big rivalry game against Delaware at PPL Park. Getting some confidence back is the first order of business, and while it's nowhere near the glory of the FCS playoffs, beating Delaware and keeping them OUT of the playoffs will feel really good in late November.
What are your keys to a Villanova victory on Saturday afternoon?