The students' perspective on Villanova Sports.

Week 9 Preview: Rhode Island Rams

Villanova Wildcats (4-4) vs. Rhode Island Rams (1-7)
When: Saturday, November 7th, 2015, at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Meade Stadium, Kingston, RI
Coverage: N/A
Rhode Island’s Previous Season Record: 1-11
Key Players for Rhode Island: #11 Wesley McKoy (5-11 178) Fr., QB; #2 Harold Cooper (5-9 187) So., RB; #46 Adam Parker (5-11, 239) Jr., LB; #91 Mike Ezirike (6-2 270) So., DE; #21 Tim Wienclaw (6-2 210) Sr., S;

Scouting Report:  Villanova has nothing to fear this Saturday except for a select few players on either side of the ball. Rhode Island is still a developing team, and does not yet have the talent to be a real threat to most teams in the conference.

The Rams offense has been a mediocre unit that has had plenty of personnel changes. For instance, there have been three starting quarterbacks that have played for the Rams this year. The third of those quarterbacks, Wesley McKoy, looks to have the position locked down. He has played in two games, throwing for 175 yards and two touchdowns combined in those games. The coaching staff has plenty of confidence in him, as he has shown more maturity than expected for a true freshman quarterback.

“He operated the offense well,” said Rams head coach Jim Fleming. “He looked like he done it before.”

Expect McKoy to play a game-manager role this Saturday.  He won’t be doing much, but he won’t cost his team turnovers. Coach Fleming will look to develop McKoy, and not throw him to the wolves against a strong Villanova defense.

Rhode Island’s greatest threat, and easily their best overall player, is runningback Harold Cooper.  A prototypical scat-back, Cooper has deadly lateral speed, outstanding agility, and a third gear that makes him difficult to catch in the open field.  As it stands, Cooper leads the team in  touchdowns, with six (three rushing, two receiving, and one kick return). He also leads the team in all purpose yards (1,203).  Cooper is a dynamic offensive talent. If Villanova wants to make this an easy of a win as possible, it will have to contain Cooper. Look for Rhode Island to go to Cooper often, as he is this team’s only game-changer on offense.

Defensively, this team has a few good players, but nobody will really jump out at you. This defense is just not that good: they surrender an average of 31 points per game, along with 427 yards allowed per game.  This is easily the weakest defense that the Wildcats have faced so far this season.

The defense is lead by linebacker Adam Parker, who currently leads the team in tackles (68) and tackles for loss (7.5).  He also has one forced fumble on the season.  If there is any defender who is going to “fly to the ball” Saturday, it will be him.

The Rams’ defensive line is led by defensive end Mike Ezirike, who is tied for the team in sacks (two) and has three tackles for loss.  If there is any pass-rusher on this defense who could pose a threat to ‘Nova quarterback Zach Bednarczyk, it will be him.

In the secondary, one player stands out among the rest.  Safety Tim Wienclaw will look to shut down Bednarczyk and the developing Wildcat pass attack.  If there are any players to avoid in the secondary, it will be Wienclaw, as he is second on the team in tackles for loss (four), second in total tackles (56), and has one interception.

All in all, the Rams football team is a sub-par unit, whose star players are, at best, average.

Outlook:  After the momentum that Villanova gained after a hard fought win against Maine, the game against Rhode Island should be a no-brainer.  The Wildcat runningback duo of Gary Underwood and Javon White has been on fire as of late.  These two have set the tone for the last few games for Villanova, in both their wins and losses.  Combined with the fact that Bednarczyk has also become integral to the run game, you have a running attack that Rhode Island will not be able to contain.  As Bednarczyk develops, the passing game will become secondary to the running attack.  It is all about establishing domination in the trenches, and keeping possession of the ball.  The ‘Cats will do all of this against the Rams.

More importantly for ‘Nova, the defense will look to be dominant as ever.  Rhode Island averages only 14 points per game, so they are very beatable.  If Villanova can play lock-down defense like they did against Maine (a team that is much better than Rhode Island), then they will be fine.  It will be all about containing Harold Cooper.  I think Villanova will be able to do that.  Don’t worry about this game ‘Nova Nation.  The ‘Cats have this one in the bag.

Prediction: Villanova 28, Rhode Island 3

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About The Author

Eugene Rapay '16 created "The Bench Mob" in November 2013. He joined the Villanova Times in 2012 as a writer. A Westchester, NY native, who will bring top quality coverage of all things Villanova sports.


November 2015
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