The students' perspective on Villanova Sports.

Week 4 Preview: Lafayette Leopards

-Chris Knight/Morning Call

-Chris Knight/Morning Call

#19 Villanova Wildcats (2-1) vs. Lafayette Leopards (1-2)
When: Saturday, September 24 , 2016, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Fisher Stadium, Easton, PA
Coverage: None
Towson’s Previous Season Record: 5-6
Key Players for Lafayette: #7 Drew Reed (6-1, 195) Sr., QB; #17 Matt Mrazek (6-4, 215) Jr., WR; #33 Brandon Bryant (5-11, 225) Jr., LB; #43 Michael Root (6-1, 230) Jr., LB; #22 Draeland James (6-2, 205) Sr., CB;

Scouting Report: The Wildcats are coming in hot to Easton after a dominant win over the Towson Tigers, and hope to keep the momentum rolling in their first game against the Lafayette Leopards in 96 years.  The Leopards are coming off a loss in a shootout against Princeton, and will hope to muster a win to bring some hope back in their season.

Lafayette is not a major threat on either side of the ball, but it does have a few playmakers on offense and defense to keep an eye on.  Defensively, this team is ledd by two linebackers in Michael Root and Brandon Bryant, who are both land sharks that Villanova must account for in order to score on this Tigers defense.  Root currently leads the team in total tackles (31), and is definitely this team’s main run-stopper.  Should Villanova want to continue its successes on the ground and continue to use Javon White, they will have to take him into account.

Bryant on the other hand is the team’s premier pass rusher: he has currently racked up a solid two and a half sacks (team leading), and a solid number of total tackles (27).  He is the lightning to the thunder of Bryant: while Root is the thumper over the middle, Bryant is the smaller, speedier threat.  If Zach Bednarczyk is to continue his development as a passer and have another fantastic game as he did against Towson, he will need to kept away from Bryant.

The best defender on this team is cornerback Draeland James.  James’ tackle totals (13) may be lower, but his team-high two interceptions are worth noting through only three games.  He is also a big corner, and has the skills to shut down his given side of the field.  If Villanova takes to the air like they did against Towson, Bednarczyk will have to keep tabs on James and wherever he roams.

This team’s offense is far weaker than its defense, and only has a few players worth mentioning.  Senior quarterback Drew Reed is having a solid, but not spectacular, season as the Leopard’s field general.  He currently sits at six touchdowns to four interceptions on the season; but he did have a good showing in last week’s Princeton game, putting up 356 yards and three touchdowns. Villanova will have to crack down on Reed, as he has shown some arm talent and the ability to stretch defenses in this short season.

Reed’s top receiver, Matt Mrazek, is having the best season of any player on this team so far.  Last year’s Lafayette Wide Receiver MVP sits at 19 catches for 233 yards and five touchdowns, including a five catch, 81 yard and two touchdown catch performance in last week’s loss.  Mrazek is a huge target, and by far the biggest receiver that Villanova has faced this year.  Look for Reed to throw a lot of jump balls in his direction.  Of all the players on this Leopard team, Mrazek will be the toughest man to stop on either side of the ball.

Outlook: This one is going to be a win, and it probably won’t be close.  The Leopards are poor offensively (averaging 20.3 points per game, and 1.6 yards per carry on the ground as a team), and have little hope of scoring against a Villanova defense that has stood strong so far this season.  Because the Leopards rushing attack is poor, they will have to become one dimensional and take to the air early. Villanova will be able to key in on that, just as it did last week against Towson.

On offense, the ‘Cats have been cooking.  The run game, spearheaded by White, is as good as ever, and it will only get better as Bednarczyk develops as a passer.  Bednarczyk put up solid passing numbers last week against Towson (20-for-26, 230 yards, and three touchdowns), and will have no problem airing it out against a weak Leopards defense.  All in all, Villanova walks away with this one very cleanly.

Prediction: Villanova 28, Lafayette 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.

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