Whitney plays complete game against Dukes

Nathan McGann

Junior quarterback Chris Whitney likes contact. Head Coach Andy Talley not so much. As ‘Nova fans have grown accustomed to watching Whitney scramble, break tackles and throw lead blocks, Talley continues to wonder what would happen to his team should his field general fall victim to the injury bug.

Talley has taken precautions. Reserve quarterback Antwon Young has run the offense for at least one series in every game this season by design in order to keep Whitney upright. And the head coach has not been afraid to sit Whitney for Young when he showed signs of struggling. In Villanova’s 27-0 drubbing of No. 16 James Madison, struggles were an afterthought.

“Chris was playing well, and had a very good feel for the game,” Talley said on Monday. “I felt like I have been giving Antwon enough time to play to keep him sharp, and I really wanted to give Chris this whole game and manage it well to keep continuity in the offense.”

Whitney matched a career high with three touchdown passes on an efficient day through the air. He finished with 93 yards on 11 of 16 passes and added an additional 97 yards rushing on 18 carries. Rebounding from a poor second half against New Hampshire which resulted in his benching, Whitney played a full 60 minutes for the first time all season.

“He managed the game extremely well,” Talley said. “I think the fact that he had four quarters to play in really helped, as opposed to against New Hampshire where he only had two quarters really.”

For Whitney and the entire team, the victory over James Madison was more than just a nice conference road win over a ranked opponent. Whitney was looking to prove, despite his playing style, that he can stand up to the pressures of an entire game.

The team sought vengeance. The Dukes had won 5 of the last 6 matches against Villanova prior to Saturday, including the infamous “Hail Mary” game at Villanova Stadium and the quarterfinal contest in last year’s playoffs. The Wildcats got their revenge in a big way since this JMU loss all but eliminates any chance the Dukes had at garnering a postseason berth.

His numbers werent huge, but Whitney played arguably his most balanced game of the season. He incorporated both the running and passing attacks and spread the ball around to five different receivers. The offense never turned the ball over. Needless to say, Talley was pleased with his quarterback.

“He was very accurate throwing the ball,” he said. “He put the two nice balls to Szczur right on the money. He also did a great job running the ball.”