Villanova (ranked #22 Stats FCS and #19 FCS Coaches) squares off against Lehigh on Saturday at 6:00 PM in the final home opener of Andy Talley’s storied career.
Both teams enter the game at 0-1 on the young season. The Wildcats lost at Pitt while the Mountain Hawks were knocked off by Monmouth by a score of 23-21. Lehigh is looking to improve on a 6-5 season last year and was picked to finish in a tie for third with Holy Cross in the preseason Patriot League poll.
The Cats have won the last four games between the two schools by an average score of 34-13. Lehigh last posted a win over the Cats in September of 2006 by a score of 31-28. Andy Talley is 5-1 all-time against Lehigh. Lehigh Coach, Andy Coen is 1-4 against ‘Nova. The overall series dates back to 1903 when the Cats got shellacked 71-0 by Lehigh in the first ever meeting. Villanova leads the all-time series 7-5. The teams last met in 2010 when ‘Nova easily dispatched of the Mountain Hawks 35-0 at Goodman Stadium.
During last week’s loss at Pitt, it was the performance of the defense and punter, John Hinchen that stood out on the positive side of the ledger. Hinchen had six of his nine punts downed inside the 20-yard line and averaged 39.3 yards per punt. The Wildcat defense held a well-regarded Pitt offense to 261 yards.
Earlier this week, Coach Talley spoke about what he took away from the Pitt Game: “I came away from the game feeling that we have the pieces to compete at a high level in the CAA. The problem with the I-A game is that you never really know, unless you win one, how good your team is going to be. Everything is just bigger, faster, stronger and they are playing a lot of people and you’re not. So, it’s hard to decide how you are coming out of that game. But I think we are going to be a pretty good team. So, I have to lean on that.”
Villanova Offensive Coordinator, Sam Venuto will be looking to get the Wildcat offense purring against Lehigh after producing only 53 rushing yards and 119 passing yards against the Panthers last week. Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk tallied only 121 yards of total offense - the lowest output since his partial game, career debut against Delaware last season (78 yards). Junior tight end, Ryan Bell was a bright light last week with six receptions for 52 yards.
Coach Talley is confident in Behdnarczyk moving forward, saying “I think that Zach is going to be one of the better quarterbacks in our league as time goes on. He threw some great passes. He just didn’t have a lot of time to throw. It’s a lot different when you’re practicing in preseason and one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three cuts down to one thousand one-and-a-half. ”
The Mountain Hawks are led by standout O-linemen, Timothy O’Hara and Zach Duffy, linebacker, Colton Caslow and wide-out Troy Pelletier.
Lehigh has Coach Talley’s full attention this week: “We have Lehigh, who we have a great deal of respect for. They run the same defense we do, and their offense is very wide open. We have played them before, and we always have a great deal of respect for Andy Coen and the group up there. They are extremely well-coached. They got out of the box a little slow against Monmouth. They have a really fine team. I love their quarterback. He’s very good. They have a great wideout, Troy Pelletier, who’s excellent. They have always been very good on offense. They have been one of the innovators throwing the football. We have our hands full with them.”
Here are additional game notes and the Wildcat depth chart for Saturday’s game.
Those attending the game should be aware of parking issues and remember to stop by the VUSports tailgate (spaces 109-111) to talk everything Villanova with like-minded, die-hard Wildcat fans!