#6 Villanova FCS Football 2013 Preview

George Hammond

Villanova Wildcats

Overall Rank: #6
#1 CAA

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Two years ago, Villanova went 2-9 and was outscored 326-189. Last season, Andy Talley’s team did an about-face, going 8-4 and earning a share of the CAA crown. The Wildcats’ season ended with a disappointing first-round playoff loss to Stony Brook, 20-10, but the foundation was laid for something special this year. At least the CAA thinks so as Villanova was the preseason pick to win this year’s championship. “To have a target on your back early in the season is always a rough thing, but I would rather play it this way than to be picked eighth in the league. This way, we are picked first, everyone knows that we have a good team and here we come,” said Talley, who needs just two victories for 200 career wins.

2012 Record: 8-4, 6-2
2012 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Andy Talley (198-120-1 at Villanova, 226-138-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Sam Venuto
Defensive Coordinator: Billy Crocker

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kevin Monangai, RB, 1,210 yards
Passing: John Robertson, QB, 1,965 yards
Receiving: Joe Price, WR, 616 yards
Tackles: Joe Sarnese, FS, 81
Sacks: Rakim Cox, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Joe Sarnese, FS, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB Austin Medley, WR Clay Horne, OL Dan Shirey, OL Josh Bucci, OL Vince Kowalski, OL Bill Vogel, OL Ross Hall, OL Kyle Wallace, NG Antoine Lewis, LB Pat Haggerty, CB Craig James, K Mark Hamilton, WR Poppy Livers.

Key Losses: WR Norman White, CB Eric Loper, S Ronnie Akins, DE Marlon Johnson.

Where to begin? There’s a reason Villanova is considered so highly this year – it has talent across the board. For starters, there’s sophomore quarterback John Robertson, who is a dual threat to run or pass. He earned the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the FCS last year. Robertson is complemented in the backfield by juniors Kevin Monangai (1,210 rushing yards last year) and Austin Medley (730 yards). Monangai had five 100-yard rushing games in 2012, including a career-high of 192 yards against Maine. The Wildcats’ backfield isn’t the only area of strength, the offensive line is big and experienced. Senior Dan Shirey (6-3, 300) returns after missing last season because of an Achilles injury. Before 2012, he had started 34 consecutive games and was first-team All-CAA in 2011. In addition, senior Josh Bucci (6-6, 350), junior Vince Kowalski and senior Bill Vogel also return. There’s talent on the defensive side, too, as senior nose guard Antoine Lewis (6-2, 290) and senior Rakim Cox, a three-year starter, anchor the line. Corner Craig James and safety Joe Sarnese are back in the secondary.

On paper, there don’t appear to be many weaknesses. The Wildcats didn’t have a particularly potent passing game last year finishing 97th in the nation, but they didn’t need to with their running attack. Still, they lose top wideout Norman White, who had 45 receptions for 550 yards in 2012. Other areas of concern are at linebacker where new faces will fill in there and in the secondary where Villanova must replace four-year starter Eric Loper.

The Bottom Line:
The Wildcats could be really good and are talented enough to knock off a suspect Boston College (2-10 last year) in the season opener. The Eagles are guided by former Temple head coach Steve Addazio, who has faced Villanova before. Still, there are a few caveats to consider. Last year, the schedule worked in the Wildcats’ favor. After falling to Addazio’s Temple team 41-10 in the opener, Villanova reeled off four consecutive victories against four of the easiest teams on its schedule. It built momentum and confidence during the span and though it lost to Richmond to end the win streak, it upset Old Dominion one week later. Two subsequent losses, however, are a concern: Towson walloped the Wildcats 49-35 and Stony Brook ended their season in the first round of the playoffs. Villanova rushed for just 132 yards against Towson and only 136 yards against Stony Brook. The BC game on August 31 is huge because a loss would take away Villanova’s margin for error, or at least reduce it, considering CAA contests with Towson, New Hampshire and James Madison are on the road. So consistency might be the key for Villanova and the continued development of Robertson.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 252.75 (9th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 168.42 (97, 9)
Total Offense: 421.17 (27, 4)
Scoring Offense: 29.42 (36, 5)
Rushing Defense: 156.17 (56, 5)
Pass Defense: 185.58 (29, 3)
Total Defense: 341.75 (36, 3)
Scoring Defense: 20.92 (22, 2)
Turnover Margin: .33 (38, 3)
Sacks: 2.25 (40, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.17 (67, 8)

Madness 2013 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#48 Wesley Smith
#49 Michael Williams
#59 Lincoln Collins
#68 Lorenzo Fertitta
#82 Thomas Plonski


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