Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Last year's Mayor's Cup served as a harsh
awakening for Villanova, as the program was forced to quickly accept just how
different the future would be without one of its most successful senior
Veteran coach Andy Talley would like to forget the 2011 season.
Throughout his illustrious career, which includes an overall coaching record
of 218-134-2 and a 2009 national championship, Talley never had a team win
fewer than three games. That was until last season's 2-9 campaign.
In fact, the Wildcats had become so accustomed to their winning ways under
Talley that from 2008-10 Villanova recorded 38 wins and nine losses, earning
three consecutive FCS playoff berths, (including the national title) and
registered back-to-back national semifinal appearances in 2009 and 2010.
The significant three-year run soon became overlooked due to the difficult
rebuilding process. It's a process that began immediately after last season's
42-7 Mayor's Cup loss versus Temple.
This year, with a new foundation, fresh start and a returning group of
underclassmen, many of whom were thrown into action as freshmen, Villanova
tried to take its next step moving forward.
On the other hand, crosstown rival Temple had other plans.
"It all adds up, if you play that way against a really good team, I think
you're going to see a score like you saw," Talley said after his team's 41-10
loss at Lincoln Financial Field. "We have been there before with a Division I
team, on a hot humid day; they are playing close to 60 kids and we are playing
32. It is a problem for you especially in the second half."
In the final addition of the Mayor's Cup, the Owls, who have made their return
to the Big East Conference this year, came away with a convincing win, but
they had to earn it first.
VU returned 20 starters from last year's youthful squad (six true freshmen
started the majority of games), 11 of whom were underclassmen. Despite
trailing, 7-3, after one quarter, The Wildcats outgained Temple 92 to 86 in
total yards and hung in well.
"All in all, they are a better football team," Talley said. "We have a long
way to go as a 1-AA team, but I think we saw enough good things that if we can
coach them up a little bit in the next couple of weeks, we will be a pretty
good football team. But we are not now and they were certainly better today."
Eventually, the Wildcats defense showed signs of inexperience and gave up
three huge plays. Temple scored on the ground with plays of 19, 56 and 38
"I was disappointed defensively, I thought we could run better than that,"
Talley said. "We looked really slow on defense and I really don't know why ...
I think they broke our back with the 54-yard run back in the second half. The
touchdown reception and interception was murder, so we never really got in a
Sophomore Chris Polony struggled under center for an offense that managed only
153 yards passing. Polony threw a costly interception in double-coverage to
senior wide receiver Norman White, which was picked off by Vaughn Carraway and
returned 48 yards for a score, giving Temple a 14-3 lead in the second
John Robertson, who did a lot with his feet, was a bright spot for the 'Nova
offense. The redshirt freshman signal-caller rushed for 78 yards and one
touchdown while passing for 135 yards.
"I was a little surprised. I knew we had a package going in for John
(Robertson) for the game," sophomore quarterback Chris Polony said, "He was
going to come in the game and run a couple of plays. He did really well and I
did not perform as well as I should have. They decided to go with him in the
Robertson capped off a seven-play, 69-yard drive with 1:04 left in the second
quarter, cutting Temple's lead to 11. But with 21 seconds left in the first
half, Temple running back Matt Brown changed the momentum of the game with a
highlight-reel, 56-yard touchdown, giving the Owls a 28-10 lead.
In the second half, Villanova didn't get anything going on both sides of the
ball. Talley's offense started seven sophomores, and it showed. Temple ran for
302 yards, while the Owls were led by Brown, who finished with 18 carries for
141 yards and one touchdown.
"Definitely a tough opponent in Temple ... I think we improved a lot from last
year's game," Polony said. "We're going to look at tape and correct mistakes.
There is definitely some motivation (after last year's 2-9 season) you know,
we see some of the national championship rings. We still have a couple of guys
back on the team that have won a title and were just looking to get back to
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