#8 Villanova FCS Football 2017 Preview


Villanova Wildcats


Overall Rank: #8

#2 CAA

The 2016 season was an end of era for Villanova. It was Coach Andy Talley’s last season with the program after being the head coach for the last 32 years. The Wildcats sent him out with their sixth playoff appearance in the last nine years and beat St. Francis in the first round before falling at South Dakota State 10-7. Villanova promoted Mark Ferrante to the top spot after he spent the last 30 years as an assistant under Coach Talley, including the last 18 as assistant head coach. 
2016 Record: 9-4, 6-2
2016 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Mark Ferrante (0-0 at Villanova, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Sam Venuto
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Trainer
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Aaron Forbes, RB, 799 yards
Passing: Zach Bednarczyk, QB, 2,158 yards
Receiving: Taurus Phillips, WR, 497 yards
Tackles: Ed Shockley, LB, 86; Jeff Steeb, LB, 86
Sacks: Ed Shockley, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: Rob Rolle, DB, 7
Other Key Returnees: RB Matt Gudzak, TE Ryan Bell, WR Jarrett McClenton, DB Trey Johnson, DB Rasaan Stewart, K/P John Hinchen
Key Losses: RB Javon White, OL Brad Seaton, LB Austin Calitro, DL Tanoh Kpassagnon, DL Bryan Osei
The change on the sidelines will not have much of an effect in the style of play for Villanova and it will be about as smooth a transition as possible. The new season should go pretty smoothly as well with many of the top playmakers returning on offense. Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk should turn into a more efficient quarterback with a full year of starting experience under his belt. He threw for 2,158 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, but was intercepted ten times. Villanova does not need their quarterback to make too many big plays and Bednarczyk is emerging as a decent dual-threat quarterback who can manage the game. He will benefit from the return of his top three pass catchers. Taurus Phillips and Jarrett McClenton are steady wide receivers and tight end Ryan Bell is a great target in the end zone. The ground game will be led by Aaron Forbes and Matt Gudzak. Forbes led the team with 799 yards and eight touchdowns, while Gudzak added 513 yards and three touchdowns.
Villanova boasted the best defense in the country last year. They allowed 259.8 yards and 15 points per game. Even if everybody was returning, that would be difficult to replicate. But there is plenty of talent returning for this again to be one of the toughest defenses to crack. The biggest concern is on the line where Tanoh Kpassagnon and Bryan Osei need to be replaced. Those two combined to tally 15.5 sacks and 29.5 tackles-for-loss. Linebackers Ed Shockley and Jeff Steeb can get to the quarterback at times too. They also tallied 86 tackles each last season and are a big reason the Wildcats are so difficult to run against. The secondary has one of the best players in the country in Rob Rolle. He intercepted seven passes last season and tallied 63 tackles. He can read the quarterback extremely well and will always be around the ball. With Trey Johnson and Rasaan Stewart also returning, Villanova will have an extremely talented and dangerous secondary.
The Bottom Line:
This is a team that can beat anybody on any given day. Part of the problem last season was when Villanova fell behind, they had no way of coming back. The better defenses they ran into could completely shut down the Wildcats offense. With more experience, this is a team that should not quite have that same problem. They still do not want to fall behind, but teams like Richmond and James Madison should not be able to completely stall the Villanova offense again in 2017.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 206.3 (24th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 172.5 (96, 7)
Total Offense: 378.8 (66, 4)
Scoring Offense: 24.4 (76, 5)
Rushing Defense: 87.6 (4, 1)
Pass Defense: 172.2 (11, 4)
Total Defense: 259.8 (1, 1)
Scoring Defense: 15.0 (1, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.54 (26, 3)
Sacks: 2.46 (26, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (67, 9)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#8 Damone Drew
#26 Trajan Anderson
#96 Kyle McCloskey
#159 Jaquan Amos