Now to The Keys to the Game:
- Get The Ball Rolling- Aaron Ball, the Junior Running Back from California rushed for over 1,000 yards last year and this season he's averaging less than 35 yards per game. In order for the offense to find and settle into a rhythm, they must establish a running game. Aaron Ball has great ability and is a threat to bust out a long run at almost any time. This game is the perfect opportunity for Aaron to break out as Northeastern is giving up over 200 yards per game on the ground this season. Effectively setting up the run will set up the play action pass for Chris Whitney and keep Northeastern's defense unit guessing.
- Protect The Quarterback- The thing that concerns me the most about this team is its seeming inability to keep the Quarterback on his feet consistently. Through three games, Villanova signal callers have been sacked 11 times. Chris Whitney was in a great rhythm at the end of the Temple game when he was firing off darts right after he received the snap. Whether its an issue of the offensive line not playing to it's ability or the Quarterback holding the ball too long, this is an issue that needs to be fixed.
- Rush the Passer- The best pass defense is a good pass rush as proved by Richmond's "Stonewall" Defense last season with Defensive Ends Sherman Logan and current Atlanta Falcons rookie Lawrence Sidbury. When Villanova's Defense is getting pressure on the quarterback, they are remarkably better than when they don't (Just ask Joe Flacco.) In three games so far this season, Northeastern has given up five sacks total, a middle of the road number. Expect short work of Northeastern if they harass the Quarterback as they did last week against Penn (six sacks.)
- Don't look Ahead to Next Week- Next week against William & Mary is in my opinion the most important home game on the schedule as it has serious conference and national implications. Adding to the excitement for the William & Mary game is the fact that it will be shown nationally on Versus. Villanova should be able to beat Northeastern without playing 100%, but it would be nice to them to get themselves into some sort of rhythm this week as a tuneup for next week's huge game.
- Get the Crowd into the Game- As it is Parent's Weekend, the stadium is expected to be at capacity this week. So an inspired effort by The 'Cats early on in the game could turn Villanova Stadium into a loud place. If the crowd is into it, Northeastern will get shellshocked as they're used to hearing crickets chirping in the background at their home games.