#7 Villanova Wildcats v. #10 Fordham Rams
When: Saturday, September 6, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Villanova Stadium
Fordham’s Previous Season Record: 12-2, Lost to Towson in Second Round of FCS Playoffs
Key Players for Fordham: #12 Michael Nebrich (6-1, 205) Sr., QB; #22 Chase Edmonds (5-9, 175) Fr., RB; #1 Sam Ajala (6-1, 198) Sr., WR; #4 Levon Williams (6-1, 202) Sr., S; #54 Victor DiFusco (6-1, 234) Sr., LB
Scouting Report: Fordham is coming off of one of their most successful seasons in recent years. They started this year off no differently, with a big 52-23 win against St. Francis. Freshman running back Chase Edmonds set a new school record in most rushing yards in a single game by a freshman with 181 yards, surpassing the previous mark of 157. Edmonds is expected to have a good year, he is filling in for Carlton Koonce who graduated last year. Koonce ran for 1471 yards last season, it should be interesting to see if they can get similar numbers from Edmonds. The win was also highlighted by quarterback Michael Nebrich. Nebrich threw three touchdown passes in the season opener. The senior quarterback was named Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, with good reason too. Nebrich threw for 4,380 yards and 35 touchdowns last season, en route to being named All-American and 2013 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year. Nebrich broke school records for completions, passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage. He has also shown flashes of mobility, rushing for 513 yards and nine touchdowns. He has a number of weapons to throw to, in fact the Rams are returning three different 1,000+ yard receivers. Sam Ajala (1,654 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns), Tebucky Jones Jr. (1,154 yards and 5 touchdowns), and Brian Wetzel (1,094 yards and 9 touchdowns) make up a formidable receiving corps. Head coach Joe Moorhead stresses a balanced spread offense, so expect a medley of plays involving everyone at the skill positions. Defensively, the Rams led the FCS in forced turnovers last season. Whether or not they can replicate that same success, remains unanswered. However, they do have a number of veterans returning. Levon Williams is a ballhawking safety who racked up five interceptions. Defensive backs Ian Williams and Jordan Chapman are great at man coverage. The Rams will be without linebacker Stephen Hodge. Hodge is the heart and soul of the defense and was named Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Victor DiFusco is primed for a big season. He only had two starts last year, but he shined at linebacker when he was on the field. He was an instrumental asset to helping Fordham beat Villanova last year. DiFusco is now a full-time starter and had a big game against St. Francis.
Outlook: Not only are the Wildcats looking to bounce back from last week’s loss to Syracuse, but they are also trying to avenge last year’s result. It was a close 27-24 loss by the Wildcats that was marked by five Wildcat fumbles. Interestingly enough, Villanova’s defense did not give up any touchdowns through the air. The Wildcats were in the right direction to win the game but they shot themselves in the foot with their turnovers. However, this is a new year. The Wildcats looked great against Syracuse, even if the outcome wasn’t what they had hoped for. Aside from that long run that came early in the first quarter, the Wildcats’ run defense was great. Those two goal line stands were the definition of grit. That run defense is going to come in handy for this game. If the Wildcats can stop the run and throw Fordham out of rhythm by not allowing them to settle in with a balanced approach, it will put the Wildcats in a favorable position. Fordham’s passing game is not going to go down easily, but if their run game is taken away, the Wildcats will be able to solely focus on dealing with the passing game. I personally think their offense is better than ours, but our defense is better than theirs. Not taking anyway from John Robertson and the Villanova offense that looked good last week, but Fordham has a very diverse attack and the stats on paper to prove it. Our young cornerbacks will be tested, but they will have the support of a deep linebacker corps in the next level. I’m sure Andy Talley has had this game on his mind since it was scheduled and after last week’s result, he will have this team fired up for this game. It will come down to coaching and Talley takes the cake. It will be another close one, that will be an offensive showcase.
Prediction: Villanova 35, Fordham 31