#5 Villanova Wildcats (4-1) vs. Rhode Island (0-5)
When: Saturday, October 11, 1 p.m.
Where: Villanova Stadium
Rhode Island’s Previous Season Record: 3-9
Key Players for Rhode Island: #7 Mack Lowrie (6-4, 225) Fr., QB; #27 Lyle McCombs (5-8, 171) Sr., RB; #10 Andrew Bose (6-2, 232) Sr., LB; #21 Tim Wienclaw (6-1, 208) Jr., S; #22 Myles Holmes (5-9, 180) Jr., CB/KR
Results/Record vs. Similar Opponents: 0-1, Lost to Fordham 54-7
Scouting Report: Rhode Island is not looking so hot right now. They’re off to a rough start and on a crash course for another losing season. Rhode Island has lost by an average margin of 27.2 points. Offensively, they have struggled. The Rams have more turnovers than touchdowns (16 to 9) and have given up an average of 517.0 yards per game to opposing teams. They have some glimpses of hope in their young team. Freshman Mack Lowrie has showed both promise and struggle this season. He’s most likely locked in as the starting quarterback for the next three seasons too. He has completed 54.4% of his pass attempts, good for 797 passing yards and five touchdowns. However, he has also thrown five interceptions. On the ground, Lowrie is the second highest rusher on the team. While his numbers aren’t impressive (48 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown), teams still have to account for this extra element to Rhode Island’s offense. The Rams’ top rusher, Lyle McCombs leads the ground attack with 60 carries for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns. McCombs, the former leading rusher at UConn for three seasons, was dismissed from the team and transferred to Rhode Island. While he is leading the team, his performance so far has been disappointing. He injured his finger in practice and has not played in the last two games since. The rushing attack has been sloppy with McCombs out. The Rams are going to need him back if they even want a chance to put a dent on Villanova’s run defense. Harold Cooper and Jordan Sebastian have stepped in to fill the void but the duo was contained against Brown last week. Cooper and Sebastian combined for 10 yards off of 14 carries, with Cooper taking a bulk of the load. Wide receiver Phadrae White has gotten a bulk of the targets. He leads the team in receptions and receiving yards with 21 and 192, respectively. However, freshman tight end Charlie McKeeman has got a majority of the touchdowns through the air. McKeeman has three touchdowns so far this season.
Defensively, Andrew Bose returns to lead the Rams’ defense. Bose is the leading tackler and also has the most sacks (2.5). He has also forced two fumbles. The Rams’ secondary is led by safety Tim Wienclaw. Wienclaw is off to a great start. The ballhawking safety has done a little of everything. He’s fourth in tackles, forced four fumbles, recovered two, and also has one pick. Helping Wienclaw in the secondary will be Myles Holmes. Holmes is a solid at playing coverage and breaking up passes. He has two interceptions on the season. He also contributes on special teams as Rhode Island’s best kick returner.
Outlook: The Rams are in serious rebuilding mode. Their chances to come out with a win is very slim. Villanova has been rolling through opponents so far this season (even though James Madison made it a little too close for comfort in the first half) and Rhode Island simply won’t be able to hang on. Villanova has the best offense in the CAA, with an average of 41.4 points per game. They also have the best rushing offense, racking up an average of 245.8 yards per game. With that said, the Wildcats just have too many weapons for the Rams to account for. John Robertson, Gary Underwood, Kevin Monangai, Poppy Livers, Mike Burke, Kevin Gulyas… the list just goes on. Doug Turrell gets the nod at tight end due to the injury of Earnest Pettway from last week’s game. On the other side of the ball, Villanova’s defense should be able to deal with Rhode Island’s struggling offense; especially if McCombs is out.
Villanova hasn’t lost to Rhode Island since 2010 and in recent years, the Wildcats have blown out the Rams whenever they meet. This shouldn’t be a diffcult game. Villanova walks out with another win, while Rhode Island will have to take their search for their first win elsewhere.
Prediction: Villanova 42, Rhode Island 7