Pass-happy Stephen F. Austin will challenge Villanova
Andy Talley is a little worried, and it has nothing to do with Villanova's 0-6 road playoff record. The Wildcats' coach is concerned about his opponent for Saturday's NCAA second-round playoff game in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Andy Talley is a little worried, and it has nothing to do with Villanova's 0-6 road playoff record.
The Wildcats' coach is concerned about his opponent for Saturday's NCAA second-round playoff game in Nacogdoches, Texas.
In No. 3 Stephen F. Austin, No. 10 Villanova (7-4) faces the Football Championship Subdivision's top-ranked passing attack.
"If you would ask us to draw it up, this would not be the matchup that you are looking forward to," said Talley, whose squad is ranked 49th nationally in pass defense at 193.5 passing yards per game. "We are definitely a run-stopping defense.
"I would much prefer to go up against the team that ran the ball more prolifically than this team."
The Lumberjacks (9-2), champions of the Southland Conference, have racked up 3,983 passing yards this season. All but 325 of those yards have come from the arm of quarterback Jeremy Moses, a Walter Payton Award finalist. The award, which goes to the FCS player of the year, will be presented Jan. 6.
"The quarterback is of the same caliber of Pat Devlin," Talley said, comparing Moses to Delaware's NFL prospect. "So you know we have a real challenge with him. And the wide receivers are the best skill players that we've seen all year."
Moses has completed 303 of 499 passes for an FCS-leading 3,658 yards. The 6-foot, 195-pound senior has also thrown an FCS-best 34 touchdowns to go with just four interceptions. The two-time Southland player of the year leads the nation in passing yards per game (332.5). He is 18 completions shy of becoming the FCS's all-time completions leader.
"He's got a pro arm," Talley said of Moses, who has thrown for 13,061 yards and 121 TDs in his career. "He throws the ball incredibly fast. So you know you have to keep the ball in front of you. You can't give him any big plays."
Villanova also must deal with Stephen F. Austin's hurry-up offense. The Lumberjacks run plays every 15 seconds.
"First of all, we have to be able to run the football," Talley said of keeping the opposing offense off the field. "We need to be able to slow the game down a little bit and take some time off the clock. That's critical."
Villanova likely will get a lift from a healthy Matt Szczur.
The all-American wideout/Wildcat quarterback/kick returner will play in his second straight game after missing the previous six with a left high-ankle sprain.
Szczur (three carries, 24 yards) played 15 offensive snaps in Villanova's 28-21 overtime victory over Delaware in the regular-season finale. He had a 19-yard gain on Villanova's second play from scrimmage.
Free safety Fred Maldonado and wideout Norman White will return Saturday.
Maldonado suffered a concussion while breaking up a second-quarter pass in the end zone against Delaware.
In the same game, White suffered a concussion while catching a pass in the fourth quarter.