Villanova vs. Elon Preview
Written by David Szczepanski on October 14, 2023
After a blowout win last weekend, Villanova heads back to Villanova Stadium to take on CAA leader, Elon. The Wildcats are 2-1 in CAA conference play this season. They defeated North Carolina A&T, 37-14, led by a great performance from Connor Watkins. Villanova was able to get back in the win column last week, but now they face a much tougher task against Elon.
Elon has played six games this season and they are just 3-3; however, the Phoenix have played really well against CAA opponents as they have yet to lose against a CAA rival in their first three conference games. Elon defeated North Carolina A&T, Campbell, and most recently preseason predicted CAA winner, William & Mary. Phoenix’ QB, Matthew Downing, is 65-110 with 739 yards and seven touchdowns in his senior campaign. Downing had his best game of the season against William & Mary where he completed 14 of his 20 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. In that game, Downing led Elon down the field for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win the game.
The Phoenix running game is led by sophomore Jalen Hampton. Hampton has 105 carries this season for 575 yards and five touchdowns. He averages 5.5 yards per carry. After having a nice start to his season, Hampton has struggled recently for Elon. In last week’s loss against NC Central, Hampton had 10 carries for just 13 yards. Hampton had 74 yards against William & Mary on September 30th.
Elon’s leading receiver is Jordan Bonner, who has already had more receptions this season than last season. Bonner has 23 receptions for 252 yards and three touchdowns. The Phoenix also have two more really good receivers: WR Chandler Brayboy and TE Johncarlos Miller II. Brayboy has 18 receptions for 250 yards and one touchdown this season and Miller II averages 15.1 yards per reception.
Elon’s defense has also been terrific in their three games against CAA opponents. They are averaging just 11 points allowed against CAA opponents and limited William & Mary to just six points a couple of weeks ago. The Wildcats will have to find ways to get creative on offense and allow Connor Watkins the time to make good throws like last week against North Carolina A&T.
Keys to the Game for Villanova
With this being said, Elon has also been inconsistent at times this season. As mentioned earlier, the Phoenix are an entirely better team against CAA opponents. Villanova will attempt to give Elon their first loss in conference play. Connor Watkins will most likely look to target Jaylan Sanchez again this week, who had an amazing game with 158 yards last week and now leads the Wildcats in receiving yards. Villanova will also need to get WR Jaaron Hayek involved against Elon. Hayek had just two receptions for seven yards last Saturday. There is a good amount of rain and cold weather in the forecast on Saturday, so although Sanchez, Hayek, and Rayjuon Pringle should get some targets, Villanova will most likely heavily utilize the running game with DeeWil Barlee, Jalen Jackson, and TD Ayo-Durojaiye.
Today’s game is scheduled for 1pm. WXVU will have live coverage of today’s CAA battle beginning with pregame coverage at 12:30pm. You can listen on the WXVU website, 89.1 FM, and on the FREE RadioFX App.