#10 Villanova FCS Football 2022 Preview

Villanova Wildcats
Overall Rank: #10
#1 CAA
 Villanova Logo
Villanova returned to the playoffs in 2021 and made a nice run to the quarterfinals where they fell to South Dakota State. That was their best playoff run in over a decade. Coach Mark Ferrante has had some ups and downs during his five years with the Wildcats, but the Colonial is now Villanova’s for the taking and they should be looking at another 7-1 type season in conference play.
2021 Record: 10-3, 7-1
2021 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Mark Ferrante (31-21 at Villanova, 31-21 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Boden
Defensive Coordinator: Ross Pennypacker
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jalen Jackson, RB, 587 yards
Passing: Conor Watkins, QB, 116 yards
Receiving: Rayjuon Pringle, WR, 843 yards
Tackles: Ethan Potter, DB, 49
Sacks: Bryce Ganious, DL, 3.0
Interceptions: Elijah Glover, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB DeeWil Barlee, WR Jaaron Hayek, WR Dez Boykin, OL Colin Gamroth, OL Michael Corbi, DB Jalen Goodman, DB Ty Trinh, DL Garrett Zobel, LB Jordan Nelson, DB Isas Waxter
Key Losses: QB Daniel Smith, RB Justin Covington, TE Todd Summers, LB Forrest Rhyne, LB Amin Black, LB Qwahsin Townsel, DL Malik Fisher, DB Christian Benford, DB Denzel Williams, DB Darius Pickett
Conor Watkins has been the backup at Villanova for the last three years. Last season he appeared in seven games, completing nine of his 13 pass attempts for 116 yards and one touchdown. He obviously has not gotten much playing time behind the now departed Daniel Smith, but is ready to take over the offense. With a trio of experienced receivers, led by Rayjuon Pringle, the passing game should be very dangerous. The ground game has some questions with the absence of Justin Covington, who rushed for 739 yards last season. Jalen Jackson added 587 yards on the ground with seven trips to the end zone and is more than ready to be the premiere back. DeeWil Barlee actually carried the ball more than Jackson, but averaged just 4.1 yards per carry.
Villanova’s defense was brilliant most of last season. They ranked seventh in the FCS in total defense, allowing less than 275 yards per game in 2021. They allowed just 16.7 points per game. There are some holes to fill, but Coach Ferrante has plenty of depth and this group should be right about where they were a season ago. That will involve finding some new playmakers at linebacker to replace reigning Defensive Player of the Year Forrest Rhyne as well as Amin Black and Qwahsin Townsel. The front line has a couple decent pass rushers in Bryce Ganious and Garrett Zobel. The secondary does lose Christian Benford, but Elijah Glover, Jalen Goodman, Ty Trinh and Isas Waxter are experienced options who are ready to step into larger roles.
The Bottom Line:
Villanova has some questions to answer on both sides of the ball, but there may not be a more talented team in the CAA. With James Madison no longer in the conference, this is Villanova’s conference to lose now. The toughest competition this year will likely come from Delaware, who the Wildcats play at home during the regular season finale on November 19th.
Projected Postseason:  FCS Playoffs
2021 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 170.0 (33rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 210.0 (60, 4)
Total Offense: 380.0 (46, 2)
Scoring Offense: 30.1 (34, 2)
Rushing Defense: 112.2 (18, 3)
Pass Defense: 162.4 (5, 1)
Total Defense: 274.5 (7, 1)
Scoring Defense: 16.7 (9, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.46 (29, 5)
Sacks: 1.77 (77, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.08 (10, 2)