Here are my keys to Saturday night's game:
- Show Up- Lehigh got beat by Central Connecticut State last Saturday 28-21. CCSU controlled the clock for something like 48 minutes. I know that Villanova is probably riding high after the thrilling win over Temple (which they should be,) but they still have to be there and be ready to play against Lehigh. As long as the 'Cats bring their B-Game, they should beat Lehigh and if they bring their A-Game, you might see a bunch of people dressed in brown heading to their cars early. It is worth noting that Villanova destroyed the Auto Bid from the Patriot League in the playoffs last year.
- Establish the Run- One thing Villanova didn't do well in the Temple game was run the football. Over the past two seasons, running the ball has been the bread and butter of our offense and if we can't run the ball against teams like Richmond, we will have a hard time beating them. Lehigh was surpisingly one of the few teams last year who was able to stop Aaron Ball and company on the ground last year. Villanova can still win without getting 200 yards on the ground, but it would be a good rehearsal for later in the season when the games will be close and they will have to pound the rock to use up clock toward the end of games.
- Avoid Big Passing Plays- One thing I gathered from last week against Temple is that our defense struggles against long passing plays. I was terrified that Temple would get the ball back with the chance to launch a hail mary to tie or win the game. Thank Yahweh that didn't happen, but it would be nice to see the deep downfield coverage improve over the game against Temple.
- Get Pressure on the QB- The best way to kill an offense is to give the opposing Quarterback happy feet. Lehigh's QB turned the ball over several times against Villanova last year and did a poor job of protecting the ball last week as well. They got pressure on Temple QB Vaughn Charlton at times last week, but he wasn't hit enough and wasn't sacked a single time. I would like to see the defense play "meet me at the Quarterback" this week.
- Don't Let Up- I would like to see the 'Cats make a statement with this game. It's pretty obvious to me that Villanova will go into the game with a talent advantage and I'd like to see that translate onto the field. A close game is not acceptable in my opinion. Limiting mistakes, forcing mistakes and dominating both the defensive and offensive lines of scrimmage are what I would like to see. I'd love to see a two touchdown or more halftime lead so the starters don't have to play extensively in the fourth quarter.
- I would like to see the offense try the Pistol Formation. It would capitalize on both of the offense's strengths; power running and Chris Whitney's mobility from the shotgun.
- I also think that It would be beneficial to the defense if they came out in a four man front once in a while. After the Temple game I have no doubt that the three best defensive linemen the 'Cats have are Tim Kukucka, Phil Matusz and Thomas Weaver. It would be nice to be able to get all three of those guys on the field at the same time. Maybe subtract a defensive back and play a 4-3 defense on early downs once in a while then revert back to the 3-3-5 in passing situations. Just a thought.
- I just looked at stats the other day and Chris Whitney is the active FCS career leader in completion percentage, good for him.