Kern: With starter out, Villanova backup QB DaSilva must step up

Wildcats quarterback Adeyemi DaSilva.

IT WASN'T as if Adeyemi DaSilva hadn't played before. Villanova's sophomore backup quarterback got onto the field in four of the first six games. He also missed one with a concussion. Yet as he found out last week, there's a difference between taking snaps here and there and being the man. A rather large one. It's something most young QBs have to go through.

Even the guy he took over for, fellow sophomore Zach Bednarzcyk, who went out in the first half at Richmond with a concussion, experienced a few rough moments last season after John Robertson was lost with a knee injury in Week 2.

"It wasn't anything new to me," DaSilva said. "But my nerves were kicking in a little bit."

The Wildcats (5-2, 3-1 Colonial Athletic Association), ranked 16th in FCS, were already down 10-0 when he took over late in the second quarter against the No. 6 Spiders (6-1, 3-1). Your final was 23-0, after a needless, last-second touchdown. It was the first time they'd been shut out in 12 years.

There was plenty of fault to go around. But it didn't help that DaSilva went 6-for-14 for 62 yards and rushed for minus-8 yards on seven carries. And nobody gets that more than him.

"You've got to be ready for anything," he said. "(Bednarczyk getting hurt) was really unexpected. It just happened. After we watched the film, I have to be able to learn from my mistakes. I know they shouldn't be made. It could cost us the game."

On Saturday 'Nova hosts No. 23 Albany (4-2, 1-2), which has lost two straight. One was at home to Richmond in triple overtime. Bednarczyk currently is going through the concussion protocol. So the Wildcats might not know who their starter is until late this week. And even then, the next guy up is always just one play away from going in.

"Our game plan is going to be our game plan (no matter who plays), which is to win the game," said DaSilva. "We're expected to execute, at every position, whatever's given to us.

"As a quarterback, it's always about being consistent. I expect to (play better)."

He has to. Or else Villanova's season suddenly could be in jeopardy.

"I think it's hard to scale down the offense for Adeyemi," said coach Andy Talley. "We have to emphasize the things he can do easier. It just goes to show when you're a rookie, you're a rookie, especially in a (situation) like that. Now he has no choice. The expectations are high.

"You tell him when you're recruiting him, you're coming here to play in big games. You want to be that quarterback. Well, that was a big game, and he wasn't up to it. But we didn't help him as much as we could have, either. He has to figure it out . . .

"We want to get this right, so we can make a run. It would be so disappointing if we can't be a playoff team. But you know what? It's going to be close."

The Wildcats still have to play No. 8 James Madison (6-1, 4-0) here on Nov. 12. Next week they have their bye, followed by a plane ride to Maine (3-3, 2-1), which beat Albany last week by four. And, of course, there's the finale at Delaware (2-4), which just fired its coach. The Wildcats have beaten the Hens four straight and nine of the last 10, which seems impossible for such a rivalry.

"If we get this one, it can make our season," Talley insisted. "We have to have it . . . We'll see."

Ready or not.