#21 Villanova Wildcats (1-1) vs. Towson Tigers (1-1)
When: Saturday, September 17 , 2016, at 3:30 p.m.
Where: Villanova Stadium
Coverage: Comcast Sportsnet
Towson’s Previous Season Record: 7-4
Key Players for Towson: #7 Darius Victor (5-8, 217), Sr. RB; #8 Ellis Knudson (6-2, 241), RS So., QB; #25 Christian Summers (6-3, 217), Sr., WR; #41 Jordan Mynatt (6-2, 209) RS Sr., OLB; Diondre Wallace (6-0, 249), So., LB
Scouting Report: Both Towson and Villanova are coming off of hard-earned victories and are expecting a slug-fest that should be reminiscent of their 2015 match-up, when Villanova failed to rally in the closing minutes. Villanova will be seeking vengeance, but Towson will not make it easy.
The Tigers are more balanced than offensive-minded Lehigh, as they have playmakers on both sides of the ball. The Tigers’ offense starts on the ground with running back Darius Victor. Victor, who led Towson last year in rushing yards (1,059) and touchdowns scored (15), will look to shake off the rust against a tough Villanova defense. He currently sits at a paltry 140 yards rushing off of 41 carries (3.4 yards per carry). Don’t let that fool you though, he is a tough bruiser who thrives in between the tackles, like the other runners Villanova has faced this year. He should not be overlooked, but could play a secondary role if the passing game keeps up its momentum.
The passing game for Towson is headed by senior Christian Summers, who is off to a hot start in the season. Summers racked up 297 yards and 3 touchdowns off of just nine catches (33 yards per catch). He’s gotten better each week, most recently with a six reception, 232 yard performace (with one 94 yard home run grab) against St. Francis last week. Expect Summers to be hot against a Villanova defense that has been just average against the pass this season. Summers is a fantastic deep threat, and the Wildcats will have to keep him cold to come out with a win.
At quarterback is redshirt sophomore Ellis Knudson, who came off of the bench last week and put up a solid game in relief of Morgan Mahalak. He’s coming off of a solid performance that includes 301 yards, with two touchdowns and one pick. Knudson will be getting his first start against the ‘Cats, and expect him to sling the ball early at Summers. Knudson only needed 10 completions to gain his 301 yards last week, so expect the Tigers to go deep throughout the game.
On the other side of the ball, there are two linebackers who have served as the anchors of the Towson defense. Inside linebacker Diondre Wallace leads his team with 24 tackles, and has shown himself to be a very gritty defender. Wallace likes to get active in his pursuit of the ball carrier, supplementing those 24 tackles with two tackles-for-loss, one sack, and one forced fumble. He is the leader of this defense, and will be one of the key players for the Wildcat offensive line to negate, especially if players like Villanova’s Javon White want to have a good game.
Jordan Mynatt is the other key linebacker. Last year, Mynatt was second on the team in total tackles (60), but led the team with tackles-for loss (11.5). He is this team’s most versatile defender, and by far their best pass rusher. The offensive line needs to prevent him from getting to Zach Bednarczyk.
Outlook: I’ll come right out and say it–I like this match-up for Villanova. The ‘Cats defense has proven me wrong twice in a row, playing very well against the offenses of Pitt and Lehigh (ignore the fact that Pitt put up 28 points, as the Villanova offense was rarely on the field). As well-rounded as Towson may be, it’s actually not as high-powered offensively in comparison to the Wildcats’ two previous opponents. Victor is off to a slow start and won’t be gaining any momentum against a Wildcat defense excels at stopping the run. This will force the Tigers to be dependent on the pass–and Summers. He will get a lot of targets, so it’s an imperative to stop him. I don’t think one receiver can carry all that weight. Knudson doesn’t strike me as someone who will have 300 yard games consistently.
The Wildcats also showed some grit in last week’s bounce back win against Lehigh. Villanova’s White looked revitalized last week against Lehigh (23 carries, 162 yards and two touchdowns). Bednarczyk’s passing still needs work, but he contributed his own solid rushing totals (13 carries, 106 yards). The ‘Cats finished with 417 yards off of 52 team carries, with four touchdowns. Even though Towson averages surrendering 2.7 yards per carry and 120.5 yards rushing per game, expect Villanova’s run game to carry them to the win.
Prediction: Villanova 21, Towson 17