#10 Villanova FCS Football 2015 Preview

George Hammond

Villanova Wildcats

Overall Rank: #10
#2 CAA

Villanova Team Page#10 Villanova FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy Villanova Football Tickets

The Wildcats advanced to the FCS quarterfinal playoff round last year before losing to Sam Houston State 34-31 in a game where standout quarterback John Robertson didn’t play because of a knee injury suffered in practice. Villanova’s two regular-season losses came by a total of two points. It lost a 27-26 double-overtime thriller to Syracuse and lost to Richmond 10-9 that cost it a share of the CAA crown. Veteran coach Andy Talley begins his 31st year at Villanova and the Wildcats are poised for another banner year. They were picked to win this season’s CAA race in the league’s preseason poll and return 14 starters.

2014 Record: 11-3, 7-1
2014 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Andy Talley (215-128-1 at Villanova and 243-146-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Sam Venuto
Defensive Coordinator: Billy Crocker

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: John Robertson, QB, RB, 1,078 yards
Passing: John Robertson, QB, 2,846 yards
Receiving: Kevin Gulyas, WR, 677 yards
Tackles: Don Cherry, LB, 134
Sacks: Don Cherry, LB, 10
Interceptions: Jason Ceneus, CB, 5

Other Key Returnees: OL Brad Seaton, OL Kyle Wallace, OL Jake Prus, DE Reggie Paris, DE Noble Ajakaiye, LB Austin Calitro, CB Malik Reaves, S Cameron McCurry, S Matt McCain

Key Losses: QB Chris Polony, RB Kevin Monangai, WR Poppy Livers, C Ross Hall, OT Vince Kowalski, S Joe Sarnese, NG Pat Williams

With the preseason CAA Offensive Player of the Year John Robertson and the CAA Defensive player of the Year Don Cherry back this fall, it’s not difficult to see why the Wildcats are the CAA favorites. Robertson, who was injured the week leading up to the FCS quarterfinal against Sam Houston State and didn’t play in the loss, threw for 2,846 yards and 35 touchdowns last year. Plus, he rushed for 1,078 yards and 11 scores. Along with former Villanova great Brian Westbrook, Robertson is the only other Wildcat to have three 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Meanwhile, Cherry had 134 tackles last year, including 16 in the loss to Sam Houston State. The Wildcats return eight starters on defense so Talley is looking for better results. Villanova returns two of its top three receivers as well as most of the offensive line.

The big concern is the void left by running back Kevin Monangai and leading receiver Poppy Livers. Monangai rushed for 1,138 yards last season and had 12 touchdowns. Livers caught 67 passes, more than the next three receivers combined. While the rushing defense was outstanding, the pass defense was disappointing and the Wildcats lost safety Joe Sarnese. Villanova was 95th in the nation against the pass last year and 12th in the CAA.

The Bottom Line:
Someone other than Robertson and Cherry are going to have to step up. Those two can’t do it alone and with Monangai and Livers gone, one gets the feeling Robertson might have to on the offensive side. That said, the schedule is doable. Villanova opens at Connecticut in a contest it should probably win. Then comes Fordham without quarterback Michael Nebrich. Villanova doesn’t meet New Hampshire or Stony Brook this season so the CAA slate isn’t as tough as it could be – although it’s still plenty tough. The Wildcats finish at home against Richmond, then at James Madison so that could be a big one concerning the CAA title and possible playoff implications.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 242.9 (8th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 227.5 (45, 4)
Total Offense: 470.4 (14, 2)
Scoring Offense: 37.7 (12, 1)  
Rushing Defense: 106.7 (8, 1)
Pass Defense: 248.6 (95, 12)
Total Defense: 355.4 (36, 4)
Scoring Defense: 22.1 (29, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.50 (25, 5)
Sacks: 2.36 (41, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.57 (9, 11)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#17 Andrew Wiley
#61 Keegan Sheedy
#131 Adeyemi Da Silva
#164 Jarrett McClenton


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