#6 Villanova FCS Football 2014 Preview

George Hammond

Villanova Wildcats

Overall Rank: #6
#2 CAA

Villanova Team Page#6 Villanova FCS Football 2014 PreviewBuy Villanova Football Tickets

A furious fourth-quarter rally against Delaware in last year’s season finale enabled Villanova to finish with a winning record, but much more is expected in 2014 after a season filled with injuries sidetracked the Wildcats’ expectations in 2013. Fifteen starters return from that 6-5 team as Villanova is picked to finished second this season in the preseason CAA poll. Villanova started 0-2 last year, losing to Boston College in the opener and then fell to upstart Fordham when the Wildcats lost five fumbles. Five games were decided last year by four points or less as they loss to CAA powers New Hampshire, 29-28, and Maine, 37-35. But with junior quarterback John Robertson, who was named the preseason CAA Offensive Player of the Year, and several other key returnees, optimism is running high on Philly’s Main Line.

2013 Record: (6-5, 5-3)
2013 Postseason: No
Coach: Andy Talley (204-125-1 at Villanova, 232-143-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Sam Venuto
Defensive Coordinator: Billy Crocker

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: John Robertson, QB, 1,405 yards
Passing: John Robertson, QB, 1,957 yards
Receiving: Poppy Livers, 580 yards
Tackles: Don Cherry, LB, 99
Sacks: Pat Williams, LB, 2.5
Interceptions: Cameron McCurry, S, 4

Other Key Returnees: C Ross Hall, OT Vince Kowalski, RB Kevin Monangai, RB Austin Medley, WR Clay Horne, OL Kyle Wallace, OL Brad Seaton, TE Earnest Pettway, LB Joey Harmon, S Joe Sarnese, NG Pat Williams, DT Reggie Paris, LB Dillon Lucas, S Matt McCann, CB Jason Ceneus.

Key Losses: NG Antoine Lewis, OT Bill Vogel, OG Dan Shirey, OG Josh Bucci, DE Rakim Cox, CB Craig James, PK Mark Hamilton, LB Trey Johnson.

Robertson seems as if he’s been at Villanova for a long time, and he still has two more years to go. He gives Villanova a dual threat on offense with his passing and running. He set a school record last year with a completion rate of 68.4 percent and Robertson ranks fourth on the school’s all-time rushing list with 2,426 yards. In addition, he’s seventh on Villanova’s all-time passing list with 3,922 yards. “John is one of the premier players in all of FCS football. He is a true dual-threat quarterback who can beat you with his arm or on the ground in the run game,” Wildcats’ coach Andy Talley said. But Robertson’s not the only offensive threat. Running backs Kevin Monangai and speedy Austin Medley return, too. Monangai enters the season ranked ninth on the school’s all-time rushing list with 2,029 yards, including eight 100-yard games. He had a 4.9-yard average last year after leading the CAA in rushing in 2012. The Wildcats are strong in the passing game as senior co-captain Poppy Livers heads up a seven-man receiver rotation. Livers had 53 receptions for 580 yards last year. Senior tight end Earnest Pettway returns as well as a three-year starter. On defense, Villanova is well-stocked at linebacker where Joey Harmon is a four-year starter, all-CAA selection Don Cherry returns and junior Dillon Lucas is back after missing 2013 with an injury. Talley believes there’s most depth at linebacker than at any other position on defense. The safety position should be solid with the return of co-captain and four-year starter Joe Sarnese and Cameron McCurry, who led the team in interceptions last year.

Any time you lose two all-CAA performers on the defensive line there’s going to be concern. Villanova loses nose guard Antoine Lewis and defensive end Rakim Cox, who led the team in tackles-for-loss and sacks last year. There are questions at cornerback too, as Trey Johnson, an expected starter, will miss the season because of injury. The position likely will be manned by sophomores and freshmen. On the offensive line, three starters must be replaced, although preseason all-conference performers center Ross Hall and tackle Vince Kowalski return. Villanova must find a new punter and placekicker as Mark Hamilton, a three-year starter graduated. He was 33-of-42 in field goals and 130-133 of PATs during his career.

The Bottom Line:
In recent years, when Villanova is good, it’s usually really good, and this year might be one of those seasons. The CAA is loaded and the schedule is difficult, especially with away games at Syracuse, Maine, William & Mary, Richmond and Delaware, but the 2009 national champions are loaded. The first three games are difficult: at Syracuse, Fordham and James Madison, but if the Wildcats can emerge at least 2-1, look out. The Virginia swing with games at William & Mary and Richmond should be instrumental as well as the regular-season finale in Newark, Delaware, against a Blue Hen squad looking for revenge, but when you have Robertson and Monangai and an outstanding group of linebackers, good things are to be expected. This is a team that could still be playing around Christmas.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 252.75 (9th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 168.42 (97, 9)
Total Offense: 421.17 (27, 3)
Scoring Offense: 29.42 (36, 4)
Rushing Defense: 156.17 (56, 3)
Pass Defense: 185.58 (29, 8)
Total Defense: 341.75 (36, 7)
Scoring Defense: 20.92 (22, 4)
Turnover Margin: .33 (38, 6T)
Sacks: 2.25 (40, 8)
Sacks Allowed: 2.17 (67, 9)

Madness 2013 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#16 Rasaan Stewart
#116 Jeff Steeb


See All College Sports Madness Top 44 FCS Football Previews