Talley going with Culicerto against Penn

After watching true freshman Chris Polony struggle mightily against Monmouth on Saturday in the first game of his collegiate career, Villanova coach Andy Talley said on Monday that redshirt senior Christian Culicerto will take the reins this week against Penn at Franklin Field.

In the Wildcats' 20-9 loss to visting Monmouth, Polony started and lasted until about midway through the second quarter before being relieved by Culicerto.

Polony had thrown for only 12 yards on 2 of 8 passing.

``A fan may have said we put him in there too early," said Talley. ``He looked good in practice and I was shocked that he wasn't ready. The game was actually too fast for him. He dropped four snaps right from center. We have two quarterbacks, and we felt we needed to make a change."

Culicerto came on to go 11 for 24 passing for 183 yards, and added 55 yards on the ground with 12 carries.

Neither Polony nor Culicerto were being counted on this season before redshirt freshman Dustin Thomas suffered a shoulder injury in the team's loss at Towson on Sept. 10 in the team's second game of the season.

Thomas  sat out last year after coming down with mononucleosis, and was named the starter this fall after making one brief appearance in '10.

Including Temple's victory over 'Nova to open the season, the Wildcats are 0-3 for only the third time Talley's 27 years at the helm. The last time was in 2002, when 'Nova finished 6-5.

`We're stuck quarterback-wise right now when it hard to execute on offense," Talley said.  ``We thought we'd make progress with Dustin, and now we're starting from scratch. I thought we'd be a different team as the season was unfolding."

Talley gave the 5-11, 190-pound Culicerto praise for the way he handled his sudden insertion against Monmouth. Culicerto, who had a 49-yarder among his completions, had played little or none in his previous three years in uniform.

``He did a great job," Talley said. ``He gave us an opportunity to win. If we can get some momentum with him, we have a chance. I think that Christian does have a concept of the offense. And he has a nice arm and knows where to go with the ball."

As for the 6-3, 210-pound Polony, Talley said he's done not with him.

``We'll start the senior and may use Chris during the game every third or fourth series," Talley said. ``I had high hopes of bringing him along. We're playing better defense, and I hopefully want to see growth on both side of the ball. But right now, we have to play defense and keep it close, and that's not how want to play."