By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Hopes are high on the Main Line as the Villanova Wildcats look to be one of the top teams in one of the top conferences in all of FCS, the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Wildcats are coming off an 8-4 season which saw them return to the playoffs and head coach Andy Talley says it has been a productive summer.
“We had a great camp, not much injury,” Talley tells KYW Newsradio. “Players worked very hard, of course the weather was great, it cooperated, so we didn’t take a lot of them. We’re where we want to be right now, pretty good shape and not many injuries.”
Villanova is led by an incredibly talented quarterback in sophomore John Robertson. Last season, he did not open the season as the starter, but quickly grabbed the job and eventually threw for 1,965 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 1,021 yards and an additional 14 touchdowns.
“We have one of the better quarterbacks in the country in John Robertson,” Talley says. “It makes a big difference, last year it was a little cloudy at quarterback and John came on and took the job and ended up being the Jerry Rice Award winner (as) the best freshman in the country. So this is a big deal for us to have a guy who is ready to play.”
Talley says Robertson has a lot of talent surrounding him on offense.
“(Junior) Kevin Monangai returns,” Talley says. “He’s a 1,000 yard rusher from last year. (Junior) Austin Medley right behind him. Two really good running backs. We return the whole offensive line from last year, (senior offensive lineman) Danny Shirey is back after an (Achilles) injury last year. So we have five or six, seven guys up front that have played a lot that are pretty good. (Senior) Joe Price at wide receiver. (Sophomore) Jamal Abdur-Rahman is back at running back. We have a lot of weapons and I’m looking forward to working with this group.”
On the other side of the ball, Villanova allowed just under 21 points a game last season.
“(Senior) Rakim Cox, our defensive end, and (senior) Antoine Lewis are two of the better defensive lineman in the country,” Talley says. “I really like our defense, we return seven starters. All in all, we have a lot of depth at linebacker. So this is a fairly experienced defense that is coming back looking to be a little better than they were last year.”
Villanova opens the season on the road, stepping up a level to play Boston College of the Football Bowl Subdivision. Boston College went just 2-10 last season, but they have a new coach in former Temple head man Steve Addazio.
“Big challenge, obviously,” Talley says. “BC is an ACC football team and we know Addazio from Temple, they’re going to run the ball. Ryan Day is his offensive coordinator, so they are going to do the same stuff they did at Temple, I’m pretty sure of that. Don Brown is their defensive coordinator and we knew Don when he was head coach at UMass and he’ll come after us on defense. We’re going to get five and six man blitzes. Very aggressive defensive football team. And of course they’ve got a lot of talent at BC and with a new coaching staff and attitude, we expect a really tough game.”
Villanova’s season opener with Boston College kicks off at high noon on Saturday.
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