Geoff Collins expects a lot of different looks from Villanova’s offense.
Whether it’s reverses, fake punts or double-reverse passes, the first-year coach said Temple has to limit the explosive plays it gave up last weekend to the University of Notre Dame.
“When you turn the game film on, there’s good players doing some really good stuff in some complicated schemes,” Collins said of Villanova. “As complicated as it is, it’s a unique set and offensively they do a ton of things, they got trick plays and they’re doing it with some really good players.”
Temple will play against Villanova on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field. The Wildcats are ranked No. 8 in the Football Championship Series Coaches Poll. The Wildcats won nine games in 2016 and reached the FCS playoffs for the sixth time in nine years.
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Villanova is returning junior Zach Bednarczyk at quarterback, who started every game for the Wildcats last season. He threw for 2,158 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2016. He also rushed the ball for 539 yards on 126 carries.
Last week, Villanova edged out a FCS-ranked Lehigh University team, 38-35, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Bednarczyk completed 17-of-23 attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
The Wildcats handed the ball off to three different running backs and accumulated 266 rushing yards on 38 attempts in their victory against Lehigh.
Junior safety Delvon Randall said Villanova’s offense runs a lot of run-pass options like Notre Dame’s. Temple struggled with Notre Dame’s offense from the first possession last weekend.
It only took the Fighting Irish 33 seconds to find the end zone for the first time last weekend. They had nine plays on offense go for 20 or more yards.
“They’re very run heavy,” redshirt-freshman defensive lineman Dan Archibong said of Villanova’s offense. “So we’re going to have a good emphasis on stopping the run and just getting in the right gaps and fitting up the right people, and we’re going to make a big emphasis on tackling this week so we can bring a guy down on the first guy instead of having three or four guys having to bring someone down.”
Villanova brings an experienced secondary
Villanova ranked first in total defense and scoring defense last season in the FCS. Villanova also only allowed 87.6 rushing yards per game last season. The Wildcats returned two starters from that group in senior safety Rob Rolle and senior linebacker Ed Shockley.
Rolle was a first-team all-Colonial Athletic Association performer last season, while Shockley earned third-team selection.
The duo of Rolle and Shockley combined for 22 tackles against Lehigh, including 2.5 tackles for loss.
Late in the second quarter last week, Lehigh drove deep into Villanova territory before Rolle recovered a fumble and returned it for 63 yards to the Lehigh 23-yard line. Villanova punched in a touchdown one play later to enter halftime with a two-touchdown lead.
“They’re good up front,” redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi said. “They twist a lot, they’re a good defense. They got a great secondary. You got an all-conference guy in [Rolle] and it’s going to be tough.”
Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said the Owls entered the game against Notre Dame with a plan to have a two-to-one run-pass ratio to get Marchi settled in during his debut. But that quickly changed once Temple found itself down 21-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Patenaude wouldn’t commit to the two-to-one run-pass ratio going into Saturday’s contest, but he said the Owls will try to establish the run each week.
“I mean, it all changes,” Patenaude said. “Villanova’s defense is a 180 schematically from what Notre Dame was, so you’ve just got to wipe the board clean and start over.”
Temple players change jersey numbers
Collins said redshirt-junior defensive lineman Michael Dogbe will wear No. 1 this week against Villanova. Dogbe wore the jersey in practice on Tuesday.
Redshirt-junior wideout Ventell Bryant, who wore the jersey last season and led the Owls in receiving in 2016, didn’t travel with the team to play in its season opener against Notre Dame. He’s been nursing a hamstring injury since the preseason.
Collins said Bryant’s not wearing his single-digit jersey isn’t being used as a disciplinary action. Single-digit jerseys are voted on by the players and coaches to give to the toughest members of the team. Bryant will wear No. 19 instead of No. 1 against Villanova.
“This isn’t a knock on Ventell at all,” Collins said. “I know the kind of kid that Ventell is, I’m sure we’re going to see him in that number this year. But I just think it was a selfless act by him to give up himself for the team because what Michael Dogbe did was, that was special.”
Dogbe wasn’t supposed to play on Saturday, Collins said. But redshirt-junior defensive lineman Freddie Booth-Lloyd sustained an injury before Temple’s game against the Fighting Irish. Dogbe stepped up to take his place, recording two tackles in the 49-16 loss against the Fighting Irish. He played more than half of the snaps, Collins said.
Collins said the No. 1 jersey will be rotated each week. Former coach Matt Rhule rotated No. 1 on a weekly basis in 2013 before awarding the jersey to former Owl and current Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young.
“I just can’t say enough about what Michael Dogbe did, how tough he is, how physical he is, how all in he is for this program,” Collins said. “And in some way, I wanted to reward him and that will be a rotating thing throughout the season for each week.”