Villanova struggling while an angry team from James Madison is coming to town
The Wildcats will play the sixth-ranked Dukes, who saw their 20-game conference winning streak snapped.
To be blunt, Villanova has enough of its own concerns without having to worry about James Madison's being hopping mad over having its 20-game winning streak in the Colonial Athletic Association ended by Elon.
The Wildcats are winless in the CAA and have lost two straight and three of their last four games. If Villanova doesn't have its own house in order when it plays JMU on Saturday, it won't matter if the Dukes come in fired up like a bottle rocket or flat like a pancake.
'Nova has its season on the line, and it's the only team that's going to determine whether it still has a chance to reach the FCS playoffs.
"You've got to play, and you've got to play well," Villanova coach Mark Ferrante said. "Unfortunately, right now, our execution is not where it needs to be.
"I'm sure [James Madison] is going to come in here fired up coming off of a loss. I think our guys will, too. This is the league we are in. Am I shocked they lost? No, in this league, it can happen on any given week."
That's already happened too many times for Villanova (3-3 overall, 0-3 Colonial). The hole the Wildcats have put themselves in is deep and will be, at best, difficult to climb out of.
"What we're going to do is accentuate the positives and try to make them happen on a more consistent basis," Ferrante said. "Then you also have to correct the mistakes you've made and move on. …
"We're going to go out there prepared as best we can and hopefully execute our game plan at a better level than we've had these previous two weeks."
The Wildcats have played without several key players, but no absence has been more notable than that of senior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk, who hurt his shoulder in the first half against Stony Brook and did not play against Maine.
Bednarczyk, who has passed for 1,319 yards with 12 touchdowns, has practiced this week but will be a game-time decision. If he cannot go, sophomore Jack Schetelich will start for the second straight game. Schetelich has passed for 175 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Can the Wildcats adjust the offense for Schetelich?
"Yes," Ferrante said. "Will we? Yes. … We might not have him drop back as much. He can make the plays. He's just got to make them more consistently. …
"It's never just one player, whether we win or lose. It's a collective thing and right now, we are collectively making too many mistakes and not playing consistently enough."
James Madison at Villanova
1 p.m. Saturday at Villanova Stadium.
Records: Villanova (3-3; 0-3 in CAA); James Madison (4-2, 2-1).
Coaches: Mark Ferrante 8-9 in second season at Villanova; Joe Susan 82-23, 32-4 in second season at JMU.
TV/radio: 610 ESPN; Live audio: www.villanova.com
History vs. team: James Madison won 30-8 last season and leads the all-time series 15-11.
Three things to watch
– The Wildcats need senior quarterback Zack Bednarczyk (shoulder) back. Villanova is a different offense with him guiding the ship. James Madison has averaged 40.2 points, so Villanova will likely need a good number of points to win. The Dukes, however, yield only 11.3 points a game.
– JMU has a balanced attack that averages more than 200 yards rushing and 225 yards passing. The Dukes have scored 13 rushing touchdowns and 11 passing TDs. James Madison has three running backs with more than 200 rushing yards, and quarterback Ben DiNucci has run for 198.
– Villanova is playing its third straight ranked opponent and has dropped the first two games. The Wildcats have managed to stay ranked at 25th in the FCS polls. Wildcats running back Aaron Forbes is fifth in the CAA with 400 rushing yards and has scored four TDs in the last three games.