Wildcats should remain optimistic following loss to Penn



Frank Scicchitano

The football team will not take the field again until Oct. 10 when it hosts William & Mary following the bye week.  For the Wildcats, this long break from action could not have come at a better time.

Head Coach Andy Talley acknowledged a handful of players who were playing in different positions last Thursday in the team’s loss to Penn. This included a tight end playing left tackle and a guard moving to center on the offensive line.

The shuffling of the offensive line was untimely as redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Bednarczyk was called upon to make his first career start in place of injured All-American John Robertson. As a result, he and the offense struggled in the first half against the Quakers.  

Talley also cited the toll that the team’s first three games took on his defense. After a physical loss to Connecticut, a stout performance against Fordham, and a comeback against Delaware, the Wildcats were vulnerable.  Penn, on the other hand, had only played one game this season – a loss at Lehigh.  The Quakers’ plan to keep ’Nova’s tired defense on the field for two-thirds of the game was the perfect recipe to pull off the upset.

Combine the makeshift offensive line, new quarterback, and worn down defense with the short week Villanova had going into its Thursday night matchup with Penn, and one can see how things went poorly for the Wildcats.

This column is not to make excuses for the team’s loss last week. Instead, it is to keep Villanova football fans from pressing the panic button and giving up postseason hopes.  

After the bye week, all seven of Villanova’s remaining games will be against conference opponents.  

The Wildcats are already 1-0 in the CAA after beating Delaware two weeks ago, so they are off to a strong start in league play despite their overall record of 2-2.

The team will host three of its tougher opponents – William & Mary, Maine and Richmond – at Villanova Stadium while going on the road against Albany, Towson, and Rhode Island.  

The three road contests are favorable for the Wildcats before they head to Harrisonburg, Va. for their season finale against James Madison.  This is easily the toughest of the Wildcats’ remaining opponents, as the Dukes have looked like National Championship contenders through their first four games.

The biggest priorities for the Wildcats heading into this stretch are to rehabilitate numerous injured players and to fully integrate Bednarczyk into the role of starting quarterback. Robertson’s return to the field is still in the very distant future, so the offense will need to make a full transition and find a rhythm with Bednarczyk running the show.

Realistically, it is unlikely that Villanova will run the table and finish with an unblemished conference record.  

In 2012-13, the Wildcats found themselves in the FCS Playoffs with a record of 8-4, including a 6-2 mark in the CAA. This year’s team is more than capable of battling its way to at least six conference wins and a chance to return to the playoffs for a second straight season.