#7 Villanova Wildcats (7-2) vs. Towson Tigers (4-5)
When: Saturday, November 8th, at 7 p.m.
Where: Villanova Stadium
Coverage: Comcast Sportsnet
Towson’s Previous Season Record: 13-3, Lost to North Dakota State in FCS National Championship Game
Key Players for Towson: #7 Darius Victor (5-8, 210) So., RB; #4 Connor Frazier (6-0, 200) Jr., QB; #10 Spencer Wilkins (5-11, 185) Sr., WR; #56 Ryan Delaire (6-4, 250) Sr., DE; #24 Tye Smith (6-0, 170) Sr., CB
Record vs. Similar Opponents: 0-2, Losses to Maine (27-24) on 9/27 and James Madison (62-7) on 10/11
Scouting Report: What a difference a year makes. While Villanova did upset the Tigers last year, they would have the last laugh, as they made it all the way to the FCS National Championship Game. Now, that well-oiled machine is having some technical difficulties and missing pieces, as they struggle to keep their head above water. They are suffering from a number of injuries. Their offensive line has taken yet another hit. 6-foot-4, 300 pound tackle Antonio Harris is going to be out for Saturday night’s game. Towson will have to dig even deeper to find a replacement for the already ailing line. However, it’s not a complete wreck just yet, it could be worse. Darius Victor provides a beacon of hope, as he bulldozes through opposing defenses. The sophomore running back is looking pretty good so far in his first season as a starter, replacing Terrance West, who now plays in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns. The 5-foot-8 power back hits the openings hard and often requires multiple defenders in order to be taken down. Victor has 950 yards and nine touchdowns off of 181 carries, with a pretty good average of 5.2 yards per carry. He has a lot of promise and will grow over the next few years that he will be around for Towson. The Tigers currently have the fourth best rushing offense in the CAA, thanks to Victor. Connor Frazier has a more definite role for this year’s Tigers squad. Frazier was the jack of all trades for Towson last year, he logged minutes as quarterback, punter, wide receiver, and holder. This year, he’s been the full-time quarterback. Frazier has completed 58.5% of his passes so far this season, with 1,168 passing yards and seven touchdowns to show for it. He has made his fair share of mistakes, logging five interceptions to go along with his stat-line. The junior signal caller is also mobile, while he isn’t going to look to scramble first, he is capable of moving when needed to. He has ran the ball 121 times for 399 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Spencer Wilkins will be Frazier’s top target. Wilkins leads the Tigers in receptions (36), receiving yards (415), and yards per reception (11.5). He is coming off of a relatively quiet game, with three receptions for only 34 yards. However, in the two previous games before that, he combined for 14 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown. Keep an eye out for Derrick Joseph, the speedy wide receiver, who has played second fiddle to Wilkins at wideout. He has the second highest receiving totals on the team, but stands alone when it comes to kick and punt returns. Joseph is closing in on 1,000 all-purpose yards for the season and he has returned one punt all the way to the house this season. Also, watch out for Andre Dessenberg. The sophomore wideout has reeled in three receiving touchdowns in the last two games. He has the hot hands as of late. On defense, the Tigers have a number of notable players lining up in their front seven. Their defensive line will be led by Ryan Delaire. Delaire transferred into Towson last season and had an immediate impact, as he was named All-American. He’s currently on pace to eclipse his stats from last season. Offensive linemen have a hard time blocking this guy, so far he’s racked up 58 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and three forced fumbles. They have two good, young linebackers in James Simms and Eric Handy. Simms, a redshirt freshman, leads the Tigers in total tackles with 87. He also has one pick and a forced fumble. On other hand, sophomore Eric Handy has done a little of everything, with 54 tackles, two sacks, and a pair of interceptions. Three-year starter, Tye Smith, has returned to lead the secondary for one last season. Smith brings the most experience to a Towson secondary that has struggled to defend the pass.
Outlook: Villanova has more to lose than Towson has to gain. At this rate, Towson is most likely not going to make the playoffs, even if they were to win on Saturday night. The Wildcats spoiled homecoming for the Tigers last season. Towson will look to return the favor. A loss for Villanova will provide another blemish in their playoff résumé and hurt their postseason hopes. Richmond provided a blueprint for how to contain John Robertson. They did not allow Robertson to have any scrambling room and really challenged his arm. Towson will look to emulate that as best as they can. However, their previous run-in against a dual-threat quarterback didn’t fare so well for the Tigers. Vad Lee led James Madison to a dominating 62-7 win over Towson. I believe this game will be more of an offensive showdown, than a defensive battle like the Richmond game was. The last two times these two teams have met, it has been a shootout. Surely, Andy Talley has gone over what was wrong with the Richmond game by now and will look to get his offense back in track. Hopefully that was just an off day and a one time thing. It wasn’t a pretty game, but Towson’s defense isn’t as good as Richmond’s was; so there’s some hope. The Wildcats are back in the comforts of their own home, now would be a good time to bounce back.
Prediction: Villanova 35, Towson 21