By Matt Leon
The Villanova Wildcats will play their home opener on Saturday as they welcome rival Delaware to Villanova Stadium.READ MORE: SEPTA Transit Police Chief Retires, Insp. Charles Lawson Named Acting Transit Police Chief
Now the Villanova/Delaware match-up is usually the regular season finale for both teams but, for reasons associated with the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia, the game instead will be played Saturday this time around.
The Wildcats are 1-1 here in the early going. They followed up that tough 20-15 loss to FBS UConn with an impressive 14-7 road win last week over Fordham up in the Bronx.
“It was a gritty, hard fought game for sure,” Villanova head coach Andy Talley tells KYW Newsradio. “I knew that Fordham would bring their best game, which they really did.”
Listen to the entire interview with Villanova’s Andy Talley:
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Villanova did not have starting running back Gary Underwood against Fordham because of a chest injury, but despite his absence, the running game did not miss a beat. The Wildcats piled up 239 yards on the ground against the Rams, averaging 4.5 yards a carry.
“(Junior running back) Javon White had a tremendous game,” Talley says. “He rushed for (143) yards and is really coming into his own as a tailback. He gives us that breakaway threat that you’re looking for. Gary Underwood is back this week and he’s really more of an all-purpose running back, he can catch the ball, he’s a really good blocker and definitely makes us stronger at the running back spot. So it’s great to have Gary back and now with Javon White having the game under his belt that he had, we feel we have a terrific one-two punch. And then we still have (sophomore) Matt Gudzak, who is a terrific running back as well. It’s just hard to get them all on the field.”
Villanova’s offense grabs the headlines thanks to the presence of their outstanding senior quarterback John Robertson and that running game. But so far this season, it has been the Villanova defense turning heads. The Wildcats have allowed a total of 27 points in their two games, a total made even more impressive when you consider their opponents have been an FBS school in UConn and a Fordham team that hung 37 on the board the previous week against FBS Army and averaged 40.6 points a game last season.
“I’m really hoping that this defense is as good as I think they can be,” Talley says. “We haven’t had defenses like this since the late 90’s. So, for us, I think we can hang our hat, and we are hanging our hat, on our defense right now, that’s what we’re doing until our offense comes alive. But the good news is that John Robertson is playing like John Robertson now and I think we can get our offense where we need to get to.”
The Villanova/Delaware match-up is almost always a good one and Talley is ready for this year’s installment.
“This rivalry has gone back many years,” Talley says. “Of course, sometimes it’s the last team that has the football that wins the game. I recall last year going out 21-0 and next thing you know we had to win the game on the last drive of the game. It’s everything that a rivalry should be, lots of guys from the local area, from the Delaware Valley, they all played against each other in high school.”
Saturday’s game at Villanova Stadium will kickoff at noon.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney Fed Up With City's Gun Violence Problem, Says He'll Be Happy When He's Not Mayor
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.