Wildcats drop their CAA opener, 49-42, to unranked Monmouth
Written by David Szczepanski on September 25, 2022
Villanova dropped their second straight game in crushing fashion against unranked Monmouth on Family Weekend.
Wildcats QB Connor Watkins went 13-20 with 239 yards on Saturday afternoon, but threw two interceptions including a last second Hail Mary attempt. But in the Wildcats’ CAA Opener, the gameplan was no secret: run the ball. Villanova ran the ball 16 times with star RB Jalen Jackson running for 187 yards and 3 touchdowns. After the loss, Watkins praised the work ethic of his running back: “Jalen Jackson is an extremely hungry running back. He wants the ball on every play. I trust that guy 1-on-1 with most guys to make them miss.” Watkins’ main passing target was WR Jaaron Hayek. Hayek, the 6’ 1’’ senior from Wayne, NJ, had 6 catches for 136 yards with his biggest play coming with about five minutes left in the second half for a huge 51-yard catch. Rayjoun Pringle had the only passing touchdown of the afternoon for the Wildcats. The turning point came in the 4th quarter when a Watkins’ pass was intercepted one play after Villanova recovered a fumble. When asked about the thought process of a pass one play after the fumble recovery, Wildcats Head Coach Mark Ferrante said that “nearly every play comes with an RPO” and “Connor [Watkins] just saw it differently on that one play.”
Even with the interceptions, Villanova’s offense gave the team nearly every chance to beat Monmouth. However, the defense struggled immensely on Saturday. Monmouth QB Tony Muskett completed 11 of his 17 passes for 161 yards and 3 touchdowns. Muskett’s dominant duo partner, Jaden Shirden, backed up his 299 rushing yard performance last week with 212 yards against the Villanova defense. The Wildcats defense also struggled with overall coverage and missed tackles, a reoccurring theme from the loss at West Point. “We are giving up some big plays. So yeah, it’s a concern. It’s a major concern, but we will clean it up. But bottom line is, we have to tackle better,” Ferrante explained in response to his team’s defensive struggles this season.
Preparing for the Road Ahead
Villanova’s next two games will be on the road including Saturday’s game (October 1st) against Maine at 1pm. After playing at Richmond on October 15th, the Wildcats will head back to Villanova Stadium, where they will take on Albany on the 22nd. WXVU will have live on-air coverage of the home game against Albany on the 22nd.