By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Just about everything that could have gone wrong last year for the Villanova football team did go wrong.  A combination of youth, injuries and bad breaks combined to devastate the perennial Colonial Athletic Association power, as they stumbled to a 2-9 mark.

However, hopes are high on the Main Line that the Wildcats will be able to return to top of one of the nation’s most competitive leagues here in 2012.  Head coach Andy Talley thinks his team has come along way from their struggles a year ago.

“You can tell the boys are no longer boys and the men have arrived.  We have offensive lineman that were 265 (pounds) last year, that are 295 now.  A year of experience with our running backs.  Our quarterback, Chris Polony, and John Robertson both look so much better, they are more comfortable with the offense.  So I think a year can make a big difference and we want to get back to our winning ways quickly, so we’re going to have to get out of the box early in the season.”

Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Andy Talley:

Last year, the Wildcats had three different players (including Polony) see significant time under center, and all had their ups and downs.   But Talley thinks that Polony is now ready to really lead the offense.

“Chris has come along very nicely.  He’s a very quiet guy, and he lets his actions speak for him.  He’s got a really terrific arm and he’s a good runner and has a better command of our offense.  Chris is going to have to have a really good season for us to have a good year.”

Polony was 69 of 122 for 713 yards last season.  He threw seven touchdowns and six interceptions.

Villanova has had some injury problems on offense already in 2012.  Starting wide receivers Dorian Wells and Kenny Miles each have a broken foot, both most likely will be out a couple of months.  Back in the spring, center Dan Shirey suffered an Achilles injury and he will miss significant time.

On the other side of the football, Talley likes what he sees.

“I think the strength of our team probably is on defense.  We do return ten starters.  On the defensive line we have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football.  All our linebackers are back, most of our secondary is back.  So those guys have all been on the field and I think that we are going to be on pretty good shape on the defensive side of the ball.”

Villanova allowed 30.5 points a game last season, but probably played better than the numbers would indicated last season.

The Wildcats will open the 2012 campaign on Friday at the Linc in the annual Mayor’s Cup match-up against Temple.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.

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