(STATS) - After an injury to its starting quarterback derailed a highly promising 2015 season, Villanova is hoping to avoid the same fate a year later.
The 16th-ranked Wildcats may be without Zach Bednarczyk for Saturday's important showdown with No. 23 Albany (3:30 p.m. ET) due to a concussion he sustained in last week's 23-0 loss at Richmond. Coach Andy Talley said he won't know if the highly valued sophomore will be medically cleared by game time, leaving the most essential position in unwanted flux for a game that could ultimately decide the fortunes for both playoff hopefuls.
"He may be ruled out or he may be allowed to play, but if he is allowed to play we probably won't have a whole lot of time to work with him," Talley stated. "It's not the best situation when you're playing a team like Albany."
As the staff awaits word on Bednarczyk's status, it is feverishly trying to get Adeyemi DaSilva up to speed for the increasing likelihood that the untested sophomore will make his first collegiate start.
It's a similar predicament Villanova (5-2, 3-1 CAA Football) experienced when an unproven Bednarczyk was forced into the fray after 2014 FCS offensive player of the year John Robertson hurt his knee in the third game of last season. The Wildcats, ranked fifth at the time, went on to lose three of their next four games en route to a disappointing 6-5 finish.
DaSilva's inexperience showed against a Spiders defense that's allowing a league-low 270.4 total yards per game, as he completed just 6 of 14 passes for 62 yards and was sacked three times in Villanova's first shutout loss since 2004.
Though Albany (4-2, 1-2) ranks last in the conference in total defense, it is surrendering just 19.3 points per game and has induced 21 turnovers, the most among FCS teams.
"They very well could be undefeated," Talley said. "They're very good, they've now become an upper-level team in the CAA and somebody that you better bring your best game when you play them."
The Great Danes have indeed exceeded expectations after being picked to finish 11th in the conference, though Greg Gattuso's young squad enters this high-stakes matchup on a downward trend of its own after dropping close games to Richmond and Maine.
"I do recognize our youth and I do recognize where we're at in our program, but at the end of the day wins and losses in the column and competing is more important than excuses," Gattuso said. "I think if we can play the way we need to be, our chance of winning will go up."