STONY BROOK, NY -- It was shortly after the season-ending 20-10 loss at Stony Brook in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs that Villanova coach Andy Talley quickly looked toward the future.
And Talley, who guided his team to a dramatic turnaround from 2-9 last season to 8-4 this year, certainly liked the view.
“We’re going for a national championship,” he said about his goal for next year. “We have (almost) everybody back and feel we will be a real factor next year nationally.”
Of the 22 starters on offense and defense in the game against Stony Brook, 15 will be coming back, including nine on offense, led by current redshirt freshman John Robertson, who became the first quarterback in school history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
Villanova earned the Colonial Athletic Association’s automatic playoff bid, winning a four-way tiebreaker with teams that were 6-2 in the conference.
Old Dominion was 7-1 in the conference, but was ineligible for the title since it will be leaving the CAA after this season for Conference USA.
This year marked the fourth time in the last five years that Villanova earned a playoff berth. The Wildcats were FCS national champions in 2009 and semifinalists in 2010.
“I couldn’t be happier with this team,” Talley said. “They overachieved and to gotten to the second round (of the playoffs) would have been fantastic.”
Still, Talley, who completed his 28th season at Villanova, said the key was keeping everything in perspective, and appreciating what this year’s team accomplished.
“When you have been around as long as I have, you feel fortunate to do this,” he said. “It was the best turnaround (this year) in the country so these guys are my heroes.”
Contact Marc Narducci at firstname.lastname@example.org or @sjnard on Twitter.