#6 seed Villanova will host Sam Houston State this Saturday at Villanova Stadium in the FCS playoff quarterfinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm ET and the game can be seen on ESPN3. The Wildcats knocked off Liberty 29-22 last weekend in a thrilling comeback in monsoon conditions on the Main Line - they'll look to continue their march for a National Championship against former Delaware coach K.C. Keeler.
Keeler's Bearkats have rebounded from an awful start to the season, and last week pulled the lone upset, upending #3 seed Jacksonville State 37-26 while pitching a shutout in the second half. Keeler's dismissal from Delaware was dubious, and he looks to have settled in nicely at SHSU.
Here are three things to know about the Bearkats.
QB Jared Johnson can hurt you with the run or pass
In his first season as the full-time starter, the redshirt sophomore has put up prolific numbers. While the Bearkats remain the run-first team, Johnson has thrown for over 2500 yards with 18 TDs to 11 INTs. With his completion percentage standing at 55%, he's good enough to make teams pay when they load up against SHSU's vaunted rushing attack. Two of hiss top three targets transferred from FBS schools - LaDarius Brown (TCU) and Derreck Edwards (Texas Tech) are joined by sophomore Yedidiah Louis.
Speaking of running the ball, he's pretty good at that too. He's averaging over 5 yards per carry and is sitting at 901 total rushing yards on the year - second on the team. Villanova has been stout against the run, and they should aim to not let Johnson hit the 1000 yard marker on Saturday.
Four players have rushed for over 600 yards
In addition to Johnson, the Bearkats will regularly trot out three running backs, and all can pick up yardage in big doses. Senior Keshawn Hill is the undisputed #1 guy - he's averaged 6.4 ypc on his way to a 1000 yard season with 21 total TDs (18 rushing). Freshman Donavan Williams has hit paydirt 9 times this year, averaging 5.4 ypc.
Texas transfer Jalen Overstreet is the home run hitter - his 7.2 ypc leads the team and he's picked up 6 touchdowns of his own. With so many weapons, Villanova will need to stay disciplined on defense and make sure they aren't over-pursuing to one player.
Keeler and Talley know each other well
Having been the head coach at Delaware from 2002-2012, Keeler posted a 4-7 record in the Battle of the Blue against Andy Talley. Nevermind the losing record - which will probably provide him some extra motivation - Keeler has the scouting report for Villanova and knows how to beat them.
Keeler is running the same system at SHSU that he did at Delaware, so Talley will know what he's up against too. The difference may be that Keeler has a good feel for Villanova's players having coached against them - Talley doesn't have that luxury, and SHSU has much better skill players than Delaware.