Monday, November 30, 2009

Villanova-UNH Game Deux.. Revenge or a Repeat of Last Time?

This coming Saturday, The Villanova Football Team will attempt to exorcise some demons by playing the only team that beat them this entire season; their namesakes from the University of New Hampshire.  In the last game in front of a packed house in Durham, New Hampshire, UNH pulled off the upset by jumping off to an early lead and fighting off a fierce Villanova comeback attempt to win 28-24.  In that game, neither team could move the ball into the strong winds that day and Villanova had the misfortune to have the wind in their face during both the first and fourth quarters.  That game acted as a serious wake up call for The 'Cats as they have rattled off six straight wins since that gutwrenching loss at UNH.  The six game winning streak is the longest for Villanova since the beginning of the 2003 season.  While Villanova rolled through their schedule after the UNH game, UNH cooled down in the last five games of their CAA slate going 3-2 with losses against UMass and William and Mary and a shootout win over CAA doormat Rhode Island.  Hopefully for Villanova, homefield advantage for this game will make up the four point differential for last game and more.  The Sportsbooks are giving UNH 11 Points take UNH getting 11 and Villanova to win. 

Here's some of my In Depth analysis.
  • Somebody Get Sicko- UNH Tight End Scott Sicko is being watched by NFL scouts and people in the know think he will get drafted.  I happen to believe them.  In the first game against UNH this season, Sicko Shredded the Villanova defense.  This game I think it's important to not allow him to get a free release from the line of scrimmage, they should bump him to try to throw off the timing between him and Quarterback RJ Toman.  Sicko is the most dynamic UNH player in the passing game, they have to find a way to slow him.  If Villanova is able to limit Scott Sicko to shorter gains rather than long passes up the middle, they greatly improve their chance to win this game.
  • Find The Pass Rush- Last game, Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph was not hit nearly enough.  One of Villanova's signatures is getting pressure on the quarterback and they cannot give Toman all day to throw the ball like they did with Randolph.  I personally believe that they will be able to get to Toman this week based on how they did pressuring him in the last game and the fact that Randolph was both very quick at diagnosing the Villanova coverage and finding the an open receiver then getting the ball off.  Certain quarterbacks do very well against Villanova's defense while it gives others fits.  We'll just have to wait until Saturday afternoon to see how Toman handles the Villanova defense. 
  • Ride The Gravy Train- Matt Szczur has been doing everything in recent games.  He's coming off a career best receiving total of 130 yards to go alone with over 50 yards running the ball.  It has become very clear at this point that Matt Szczur is one of the best playmakers in all of College Football.  Expect a heavy dose of Szczur in this game Running, Receiving and possibly even throwing the ball as he's had some of his best games of the season in recent weeks.  If Matt Szczur has as big an impact on this game as he did on the game against HC, Villanova should win. 
  • Protect WhitneyThe Offensive Line is coming off perhaps their best game of the season in the win over Holy Cross.  Not only did the offense run for almost 300 yards but Chris Whitney also passed for 239 yards.  I expect UNH to do a better job pressuringWhitney than Holy Cross did so the O-Line needs to be on top of their game(s).  Making matters a little more difficult is the season ending knee injury to starting Right Tackle Chidozie Ekweozor who I felt was really coming along nicely after struggling a little earlier in the season.  Earlier today in his Conference Call, Coach Talley wasn't sure what was going to be done to replace him.  The two most likely situations would be to pull the redshirt off of True Freshman Josh Bucci or to shuffle the O-Line and move Senior Right Guard Jonathan Bugli at Right Tackle and insert True Freshman Dan Shirey at Right Guard.  The latter of those two choices seems to be the most likely as Bugli has started several games this season at Tackle and Shirey has Started games at Guard.  If Chris Whitney stays off his back this game, Villanova will be very, very hard to beat. 
  • Control The Clock- One of the reasons Villanova was able to pull away from Holy Cross was their long, sustained drives.  As a result of those drives, they controlled the clock for almost 60 percent of the game last week.  If they can do the same thing against the UNH and keep the Villanova defense rested on the sideline, I'm fairly certain Villanova will win this game. 
That's it for today folks.. I'm sure I'll revisit this later on in the week if I think of something new.  Kickoff is Saturday afternoon at 3:30.. Come early and tailgate in the east lot.

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