Previewing Football's CAA Opener at Towson

It’s a battle of the unbeatens this Saturday, as No. 18 Villanova will head south on I-95 to open CAA conference play against the fifth ranked Towson Tigers. Towson moved up three spots in the AP and Coaches Poll to No. 5, after they blew out seventh-ranked Maine, 45-23.  However, not all is perfect for the undefeated Tigers. Starting running back and reigning CAA Special Teams Player of the Year, Shane Simpson, is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Even without Simpson, Towson still has weapons on both side of the ball, led by senior quarterback Tom Flacco, who threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s tilt against the Wildcats. Flacco is off to a hot start in the 2019 season, as through three games he has a 5:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Flacco isn’t the only signal caller in this matchup with an impressive start to the season. Villanova quarterback, Daniel Smith, has thrown nine touchdowns in his first three starts for the Wildcats. While Smith might be the one scoring the touchdowns, the offensive has relied on captain running back Justin Covington to move the ball down the field. Covington has averaged a shade over 120 rushing yards per game in the first three games of the season. Covington might only have one touchdown to show for his efforts, but he has broken out for a 64-yard run in each ‘Nova’s last two games.

Villanova’s conference opener on the road carries a bit more weight this season. Not only are both teams undefeated, there are postseason implications on the line, even this early in the season. Villanova will be trying to avoid a repeat of last time they visited a top five ranked team, when they lost 30-8 at James Madison in 2017. Towson is stout on the defensive side of the ball as they stymied Maine’s rushing attack to only 68 yards on 19 carries last week. If Towson’s defense can repeat their performance against Covington and company, Nova's success will rely upon how efficiently they can move the ball through the air with Smith at the helm. If Villanova can make enough plays on offense, they have the opportunity to shock the world and put themselves in the conversation of CAA title contention.