College football preview: Villanova Wildcats get early start on Saturday

Villanova University football
Photo credit Villanova University Athletics
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Villanova Wildcats will kick off their 2019 football season on Saturday when they visit the Raiders of Colgate.

The Wildcats are coming off a 5-6 2018 season — 2-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association — which saw them hit hard by injuries. But head coach Mark Ferrante has been pleased with what he has seen in camp.

"It's been a good summer," he said.

A big question for Villanova will be who takes over as the starting quarterback after the graduation of Zach Bednarczyk. It is still an open question, but Ferrante said three players have emerged at the front of the pack. 

"We have the two returners, (junior) Jack Schetelich and (redshirt freshman) Qadir Ismail, who both had some time last year, and Jack the previous two years as Zach's back up," Ferrante said. "Then we have a guy by the name of Dan Smith who transferred in here from Campbell University."

He said they may end up playing more than one quarterback in the opener Saturday, depending on how the game plays out.

As for Ferrante's hopes for the other side of the football: "We're probably going to need to hang our hat on defense a little bit at the beginning," he said, "because that's where we have the majority of our starters. We don't have a ton of starters back, but we do have a lot of guys on defense with game experience."

This will be a tough opener for the Wildcats as Colgate is coming off a 10-2 season, which saw them win the Patriot League and advance to the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs.

"Colgate's a really good team," Ferrante noted. "Colgate, defensively last year, was the No. 1 defense in the country," as it allowed just 237.7 yards and 9.3 points per game.

But he said his team is ready for the challenge.

"Our guys are excited and obviously we are in game week mode now, so they are chomping at the bit to go and play against someone else after going against each other for the previous three weeks of training camp," Ferrante said.

Saturday's game in Hamilton, New York kicks off at noon.

You can follow Matt Leon on Twitter @MattLeon1060.