#20 Villanova FCS Football 2021 Preview

Villanova Wildcats
Overall Rank: #20
#3 CAA
 Villanova Logo
After a two-year absence, Villanova reached the playoffs in 2019. Last season, they finished 2-2 in the shortened spring season and that will basically act as an extended spring practice for the 2021 season. Coach Mark Ferrante returns just about everybody to a team that has the talent and experience to compete for a CAA title.
2020-21 Record: 2-2, 2-2
2020-21 Postseason: None
Coach: Mark Ferrante (21-18 at Villanova, 21-18 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Sean Devine, Chris Boden
Defensive Coordinator: Ola Adams
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Justin Covington, RB, 309 yards
Passing: Daniel Smith, QB, 677 yards
Receiving: Rayjoun Pringle, WR, 245 yards
Tackles: Jalen Goodman, DB, 29      
Sacks: Malik Fisher, DL, 3.0
Interceptions: 3 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: RB Jalen Jackson, WR Jaaron Hayek, OL Michael Corbi, OL Colin Gamroth, LB Qwahsin Townsel, LB Forrest Rhyne, DB Nowoola Awopetu, DB Christian Benford
Key Losses: None
Villanova was very effective on the ground in the spring. Justin Covington totaled 309 yards and six touchdowns and averaged 7.5 yards per carry. Jalen Jackson added 222 yards and three scores. Quarterback Daniel Smith is a threat to run the ball too. Back in 2019, Smith threw for 35 touchdowns, ran for a dozen more and even caught a touchdown pass. The numbers were not as gaudy in the spring, but Smith has obviously proven that Villanova can throw the ball effectively. Rayjoun Pringle had a great spring, catching 17 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns. Jaaron Hayek showed a ton of potential as a true freshman in 2019. He was second on the team in receptions in the spring and will be a favorite target of Smith once again.
The defense has a very talented group. Lineman Malik Fisher is garnering All-American accolades and tallied 3.0 sacks in the spring. The star at linebacker is Forrest Rhyne and there is plenty of experience around him as well. The secondary was not great during the four games in the spring, but there is a lot of potential for vast improvement. Jalen Goodman led the team with 29 tackles and Christian Benford is one of the best cornerbacks in the CAA.
The Bottom Line:
If Villanova is going to return to the playoffs, they are going to have to earn it. The CAA is always tough, but the schedule is not particularly kind to the Wildcats. Their conference opener is a home date with a Richmond team that will be eyeing a spot in the playoffs themselves. After playing Penn State, Villanova heads to James Madison. The next week it is back on the road to play a very good Albany team. Then it is back home to face off against an improving Rhode Island squad. To make matters worse, Villanova heads to Delaware to finish the regular season. Getting James Madison and Delaware on the road could keep Villanova from winning a conference title, but this group is good enough to navigate that schedule and do enough to reach the playoffs.
Projected Postseason:  FCS Playoffs
2020-21 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 210.8 (12th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 190.0 (57, 4)
Total Offense: 400.8 (24, 2)
Scoring Offense: 29.2 (20, 2)
Rushing Defense: 142.2 (43, 7)
Pass Defense: 235.5 (75, 11)
Total Defense: 377.8 (61, 9)
Scoring Defense: 24.2 (48, 8)
Turnover Margin: 0.75 (15, 2)
Sacks: 2,25 (41, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.00 (7, 1)