Andy Talley was as candid as any coach could expect to be. Following Saturday’s 37-14 loss to visiting Old Dominion that dropped his team to 1-7, the Villanova coach assessed the immediate situation and there weren’t many encouraging signs.
Redshirt freshman Dustin Thomas was pulled for true freshman Chris Polony after a third-quarter interception led to ODU’s final score. Thomas also had two fumbles that led to two Monarch touchdowns.
“We will try to figure it out and get it right in the quarterback slot,” Talley said. “This is a difficult road to hoe and we are playing three teams the next three weeks that are better than the team we played.”
Wow, that is saying something because ODU is 6-2 and looked impressive.
The final three games are Saturday at home against Maine; Nov. 5 at Massachusetts and Nov. 19 against Delaware at PPL Park.
We know that Villanova played 18 freshmen in the game against ODU, which had a true freshman quarterback, Taylor Heinicke, look like a senior field general.
Regardless, there are more problems than the quarterback position, but that is where everything begins for a football team on any level.
“We need a quarterback to settle down so we have an offense and defense to feed off each other,” Talley said. “It’s difficult when your defense gives up big plays in the first half and your offense is turning it over. That puts your defense back on its heels.”
ODU coach Bobby Wilder echoed how important it is to have top-flight play at quarterback.
“I think Villanova kids played hard, but they are not getting consistent play at quarterback,” Wilder said.
Wilder added that it’s tough for Thomas, who was making his second start since missing the previous four games with a shoulder injury.
So it’s obvious that quarterback remains the No.1 priority, but even if that situation is righted, and it likely won’t happen until next year, there are other issues.
The offensive line wasn’t doing either quarterback any favors. The defense allowed 204 yards passing, and 177 yards rushing.
Right now the Wildcats appear shell-shocked, especially with all the success this program has enjoyed as recently as say, last year, when they advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals after winning the national title the previous year.
Talley said after the game he certainly expected more, even with some key injuries.
It hasn’t happened and now the next three weeks will be a true character test.
The players insist that they will keep working hard, fighting through this season of frustration.
The next three weeks will tell a lot. Most of all it will determine if something positive can be salvaged from the type of season that nobody really saw coming.