Friday, December 19, 2014

Villanova-Penn aftermath

Both teams came away from Franklin Field with questions to consider.

Villanova-Penn aftermath

Okay, so I'm way late with this, but I had a bunch of other stuff to do last night and I had to to work during the Eagles game today. So here are my thoughts about Saturday's game.

1. As Joe Juliano wrote in this morning's Inquirer, Villanova has a quarterback controversy on its hands. Andy Talley spent a good portion of his postgame press conference discussing this, as you'll hear in the player below.

It tells you just how much the game meant to Talley that he decided to forsake Chris Whitney's redshirt year in order to get the win. And it tells you just what kind of a coach Talley is that when Antwon Young told him late in the fourth quarter he would go out there and win the game, Talley gave him the chance.

But Young threw an interception, and now there's going to be a serious competition to see who starts against Richmond next week.

2. Al Bagnoli does not have a quarterback controversy, however, as Robert Irvin played the best game I've seen from him in a Penn uniform. He completed some strong passes, including a 19-yarder over the middle to David Wurst and the 29-yard touchdown to Matt Reinert.

Irvin's best play of the day, though, might well have been handing the ball off to Michael DiMaggio while getting thumped to the turf by the Villanova defense. I haven't seen a replay yet but a lot of people in the press box really did think he got sacked.

On the other side of the ball, if Penn's defense plays as well in the Ivy League as it did Saturday, the Quakers will give title favorites Harvard and Yale more trouble than we might have expected them to. I was impressed with the way Penn handled Villanova's spread, and they won't face a system like that in conference play - not to mention the caliber of athletes the Wildcats have.

3. Having said that, Penn had what I thought were two of the best chances it's had to beat Villanova since the series resumed in 2002, but was not able to capitalize on either.

Penn's first chance to win the game was definitely the more controversial of the two: the last possession in regulation, in which Al Bagnoli chose to run out the last 1:34 on the clock.

Bagnoli said after the game that he was playing to avoid making a mistake that would give Villanova the ball back with two timeouts and enough time on the clock to get into field goal range.

But I thought that there was enough time for Penn to try to get into field goal range at the other end. And even if there was a turnover, the defense was playing well enough that I might have been willing to send them out there one more time.

Penn's second chance to win the game was more straightforward: the overtime possession after the blocked extra point.

I don't know if any football coaches read this blog, but I definitely know I'm not one and I don't think I could be one. As such, I can't help thinking that calling for a direct snap to Bradford Blackmon is the kind of play that looks smart if it works and not so smart if it doesn't.

Then again, Blackmon didn't fumble the ball until after he had turned the corner and started running downfield. So make of it what you will, but if he'd held onto the ball much of this blog post would never have been written.

There were a few Penn fans in the chat Saturday and we discussed the play-calling at the end of regulation. But we didn't have a chance to discuss the overtime possession because I had to get out of the press box right at the end of the game. So please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

And I'd like to hear from Villanova fans as well about who you think the starting quarterback should be. I've done a poll about it, so vote and leave your thoughts in the comments.

Who should start at quarterback for Villanova this week?
Chris Whitney
 
  29 (55.8%)
Antwon Young
 
  23 (44.2%)
Total votes = 52


Jonathan Tannenwald Sports Producer
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald Sports Producer
Andrew Albert Sports Producer
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