Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Poll of the Season

Alright bitches, enough of this football crap, Hoops season is right around the corner. The first ESPN/USA Today coaches poll came out today and our beloved Cats come in ranked at number 6 behind Kansas, MSU. Texas, UNC and Kentucky. I think Kentucky being no. 5 is bullshit, John Wall may not even be elligible for a while due to NCAA infractions (what a shocker!) but whatever, the season is just starting and I, for one, am pumped about Nova's chances for big things this year. More Hoops posts should be forthcoming.

Here's a link for the full poll

**Update** AP poll out too Nova ranked no.5 Sweet

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homecoming: Villanova-URI Preview/Keys

Editor's Note: My Computer has been giving me shit the past couple weeks so I've had no time to really update anything. Regular updates will return next week as meaningful Basketball is back (no bullshit recruiting stories)

The 6-1 Villanova Football Team will take on the fledgling Rhode Island Rams this Saturday at 3:30 PM at Villanova Stadium. Anything short of a blowout will be a failure on the part of The 'Cats as they beat URI 44-7 last year in their house. Villanova simply has too many weapons on both sides of the ball to allow URI to make a game out of this.

So Here are the Keys:

  • Stick to the Basics- This season Villanova's offense has been somewhat vanilla, but it has been working for them. Now is not the time to reinvent the wheel. If they can Run the ball, control the clock and protect the ball, they should have no trouble pounding URI into the turf as they did with Northeastern earlier in the season.
  • Play Sound Defense- With an improved offense this season, if The 'Cats are able to play half decent defense, they will be able to win this game and most others. One obstacle in the way of this is the injury of stud Middle Linebacker Marquis Kirkland and some other nagging injuries around the defense. The defense just needs to play well enough this week to help the team get to next week's bye in good shape for the all important matchup at Richmond in two weeks.
  • Show No Mercy- With the bye coming up next week, this is an important game to impress the pollsters. The playoffs are right around the corner and seeding for the playoffs is very important. Running up the score isn't a nice thing to do but sometimes it's a necessary evil to prove that you're a dominant team that is worthy of playoff seeding.

That's really all that's needed for this week. Tickets are free for students and reasonably priced for all others. Kickoff is at 3:30 at Villanova Stadium. Come early, drink some beers in the parking lot and watch The 'Cats lay a beatdown on an inferior opponent.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Keys To the Villanova-New Hampshire Game

Coming off a big 28-17 win over CAA South rival William and Mary, The second ranked 'Cats travel to Durham, NH to take on the fifth ranked University of New Hampshire Wildcats. This marks the second time in as many weeks that Villanova will take on the number five team in the nation. It's Homecoming in Durham and UNH will want to do all of their alumni proud in what should be an electric environment. Andy Talley's squad has experience in big games on the road such as the heartbreaker against JMU in the playoffs last season and that will help them face what should be a formidable opponent in New Hampshire. Villanova won last year's meeting against UNH at Villanova Stadium and a win in this year's game would put The 'Cats in a very comfortable position in the national picture. Now let's get on with the keys.
  1. Travel Well- Saturday's game will be the first time this entire season that Villanova will leave the Philadelphia area for a game, so naturally It's tough to know what to expect from the team this week as it will be the first time this season they will have to leave their comfort zone to play a game. The last time Villanova traveled to Durham in 2005, they were handed a 45-17 beatdown at the hands of former UNH quarterback Ricky Santos and his star receiver David Ball. This is a different Villanova team though and after rolling through the first five games of their schedule, we can only hope that The 'Cats are not only confident, but ready to play against the "Other Wildcats."
  2. Limit The Mistakes- UNH is forcing turnovers at a ridiculous rate so far this season and on top of that, they're scoring 37 points a game. Villanova must continue to protect the ball like they have been doing so far this season so they don't give UNH a short field on offense. On defense; The 'Cats must play stingy and get pressure on the quarterback. If they're unable to get a pass rush, UNH will pick them apart in a not so pleasant way. On both sides of the ball, stupid penalties cannot be afforded by Villanova. So far, they've done a great job limiting the penalties and if that doesn't change this week, it bodes very well for VU.
  3. Force Mistakes- Both Villanova and UNH are among the top teams in the FCS in turnover margin, and not so coincidentally, they're both undefeated. teams that win the turnover margin rarely lose games. Last week's game against William and Mary is a perfect example of turnovers affecting the outcome of a game as Villanova was outgained in nearly every statistical category except for turnover margin and penalties yet still won the game by more than a touchdown. I'm confident that if Villanova wins the turnover differential by two or more, they will win this game.
  4. Go For Broke- With last week's game against William and Mary, this week's game at UNH and next week's showdown at JMU, Villanova is entering the toughest regular season stretch I can ever remember. In the CAA, no game can be taken lightly, especially these next two games. Villanova must play this game like it is a playoff game because even though they're still in a good position with a loss to UNH, one loss can mean the difference between homefield advantage in the playoffs and having to play in Missoula, Montana in the middle of December (not ideal.) An inspired effort from Villanova can also take the crowd (which is expected to be overflow) out of the game early, an ideal situation.
  5. Protect The Quarterback!- Villanova is still giving up WAY too many sacks. If you want Chris Whitney to stay healthy, protecting him is essential. The offensive line has been dominant at times, but they still have yet to go a game without giving up a sack. That needs to change if Villanova wants to prevent turnovers.
So there we go, The game is on 950 ESPN radio at Noon this saturday.. no tv this week. Let's Go Cats!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rugby Gets Back on Track

After a tough loss to #18 ranked St Joes, VRFC looked to come back strong on Saturday against the East Stroudsburg Warriors. After last week's battle, the 'Cats starting 15 was missing a few key members due to injury, however; the team was prepared to show its depth as other ruggers stepped up to the challenge. Unfortunately, the 'Cats defense came out flat and allowed ESU to score two quick and easy tries to take the early 10-0 lead. Instead of hanging their head's, 'Nova was able to pick themselves back up and come right back at the Warriors. Within a few minutes Villanova was deep within ESU's end and were awarded a penalty. Fly Half Paulie Iezzi made the kick to get the 'Cats on the board, 10-3. This seemed to get 'Nova's ruggers motivated as just a few minutes later Scrum Half Bryan McCusty knocked the ball lose from his ESU counterpart, and Flanker Pat Murray picked up the lose ball and took it 20 meters for his first ever try. Before the end of the half, McCusty would add a try of his own and Paulie Iezzi made the conversion to give the 'Cats a 15-10 lead at the half.

Villanova kept their momentum going into the second half as Iezzi scored an early try to increase the lead 20-10. Unfortunately the 'Cats took a step back and allowed the Warriors to answer right back with a try of their own to make it 20-15. The team was able to again pick themselves up, and with the help of rookie center Chris Sheehan effectively put the Warriors away. Sheehan broke through the Stroudsburg back line and scored his first try to make it 25-15. Just a few plays later Sheehan kicked the ball past the Warriors' winger and touched it down in the try zone to score his second try in just his first start and extend the lead to 15. The 'Cats defense again had a lapse and allowed ESU to score once again. However, Paulie Iezzi converted his second penalty of the night just a few minutes later to make it 33-20 in favor of Villanova. At this point the game started to get chippy, with both sides talking a bit too much. Villanova was able to keep the cooler head, and Fullback Bobby Ciapciak was able to score yet another try for the 'Cats. Shortly after Ciapciak's try a skirmish broke out, and the ref decided that she had lost control of the game and that the two teams had played enough rugby for one night, and called the game for the 'Cats 38-20.

Although the 'Cats were hoping for a better showing, a win is a win, and this win keeps Villanova in 2nd place in the division. A Few Notes:

-Villanova has yet to play a home game
-Villanova's next game has been moved to Temple's field, this Saturday
-The 'Cats only true home game will be Saturday Oct. 24 when they close out the regular season against The College of New Jersey
- Temple has yet to allow a point in two games this season

Get out and support VRFC with a fan presence at Temple this weekend, they will need all the support they can get as they play one of the most important matches of the year.

And don't forget to become a fan of VRFC on facebook for updates on game times and locations.

Villanova Rugby Football Club

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Final Thoughts On W&M Game

The win this past Saturday against William & Mary was HUGE. Not only does it move The 'Cats to 5-0 (2-0 in CAA play,) but it also gives them momentum for the difficult road games ahead. The 'Cats retained their number 2 ranking for the fourth consecutive week heading into this difficult road trip. Before I bring the keys to next Saturday's game at New Hampshire (Likely tomorrow,) I'll give my final thoughts on the game against Bill and Mary.

  1. On the first play from scrimmage, Matt Szczur took the direct snap, Dorian Wells took the ball from him while in motion and tossed it back to Chris Whitney who hit Brandyn Harvey for a 55 yard touchdown. I love when Villanova takes shots down the field (especially when they're successful.)
  2. Yet again, The 'Cats won the turnover margin and limited the penalties. Very few penalties plus not turning the ball over more often than not translates into wins.
  3. I'm very concerned about the number of sacks that Chris Whitney is taking. I've never seen a Villanova quarterback take this much of a beating, especially since they don't pass very much, it's very annoying and the best is still to come.
  4. The red zone defense was stifling.. Performances like that are what you need in big games, as long as you don't break, a little bit of bending is alright, especially if you force turnovers at the clip that The 'Cats are doing it.
  5. James Pitts is well on his way to becoming a star. Not only did he lead the team with 15 total tackles, but he had two pass breakups, one of which was a deflection that turned into a Marquis Kirkland interception. Through 5 games, Pitts is tied for the team lead in interceptions with two and seems to be getting better and better each week.

Reminder: The Game at #5 New Hampshire is a noon kickoff. It's not on TV, but it will be on 950 ESPN Radio like normal.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My thoughts: At the Half

Ok, so we are up 21-6 over Bill and Mary at the half and we have played very well so far. Some thoughts:
1. James Pitts (henceforth know as BEEF MOE) is a beast, he's played a key part in both turnovers today and has overall played a very good games in our secondary.
2. I like the aggressive playcalling from A.T. starting off the game in the wildcat with a Jet Sweep- Flea Flicker to Harvey for the TD. Also throwing in some attempted double pass action and we've definitely got W&M guessing.
3. Whitney is running like a beast, he's running over, around and through the defense and I personally love it.
4. Good work on special teams with 3 very solid kick returns and good coverage on our end which is helping us in the field position battle.
5. Our run D is doing well but I am worried about our soft pass D, we're running a zone most of the time and it looks like we are going to give up the 5-10 yard pass every time which is not a good thing. Right now we are working with a sort of bend but don't break defense but I am not confident with that sort of plan.