Villanova exacts revenge against Coker-less Stony Brook
It is never a good feeling to have a must-win in your third game of the season, but that was exactly where the Villanova Wildcats found themselves after tough road losses at Boston College and Fordham. The 'Cats played close games against both opponents, but turnovers and mistakes killed their chances. Today, they had Stony Brook awaiting, the school that knocked them out of the playoffs at the end of last season.
Now, however, it was a conference game, and the 'Cats were ready for SBU. The score was 21-0 at halftime and Nova managed to pitch a shutout through the third quarter, with the Seawolves being held scoreless until there was just 5:45 left in the fourth quarter, when SBU quarterback Lyle Negron was finally able to find an open receiver, Malcolm Eugene, on a low-thrown ball in the endzone.
The ensuing extra point, however, was blocked by Villanova's Rakim Cox, who seemed to be well recovered from the concussion injury that saw him pulled against Fordham. That was the end of scoring for Stony Brook, allowing the Wildcats to take home a 35-6 victory and go to 1-0 in the CAA conference.
"I think that hurt them a little bit. We, on the other hand had the week off, we tried to lick our wounds and figure out how we could execute better. One of the things we wanted to do, we know we could do it, and hoped we could, was to run the quarterback a little more, because he felt that he was more comfortable in a game that he gets a chance to run more.
"We've been trying to hold him back a bit to save him from getting beat up too much."
SBU was without star running back Marcus Coker today, after it was announced that he would be out for the remainder of the season. Coker transferred to Stony Brook last season after being the second leading rusher in the Big Ten at Iowa the season prior. The star rusher gained over 100 yards on the ground against Villanova in last season's playoff matchup.
John Robertson led the Villanova offense with 140 yards passing and 115 yards on the ground, as well as two touchdowns. The first score, however, was put up by Villanova's third-string quarterback Cody Pittman on a trick play pass to Gary Underwood. The second score of the game also came on a trick play, with Robertson handing the ball off and receiving it again after two laterals to throw it downfield to Clay Horne for a 47 yard score.
"We had a couple of easy touchdowns, I think the trick play is always good when it works, and it did.
The one mistake Villanova made — if you could call it that — was taking a chance on a 51-yard field goal with back-up placekicker Chris Gough with 9:48 left in the third quarter. The attempt ended up more than a little-wide right, but the 'Cats thought the chance was worth it on fourth down.
The biggest difference from the first two games though? No turnovers.
The 'Cats kept the ball under control on offense, and according to Robertson, the 'Cats spent much of their off-week preparation running ball-control drills.
"With the bye week, I think that really helped us," he said. "We focused on holding on to the ball; we did 'don't get stripped' ball control drills. That was a big emphasis, don't turn the ball over, and we can't really the rest of the season."
Interceptions were cut down to zero as well, but the WIldcats didn't take too many chances in the air. Robertson threw just 12 times, completing nine. The Wildcats produced most of their 410 yards of offense on the ground, running 42 times (76.4% of offensive plays). Robertson carried the ball himself on 20 of those runs. Jamal Abdur-Rahman was the second-best runner on the field, picking up 65 yards on 11 carries, while Austin Medley picked up 60 on just three tries, including one 57 yard breakaway.
Defensively, the Wildcats switched things up, going to a 4-3 base defense, using some defensive line depth to put more pressure up-front, allowing the big defensive ends like Rakim Cox more freedom to make plays, while requiring the secondary to do a better job sticking with their assignments.
The switch wasn't a big surprise to Stony Brook's Chuck Priore, who noted, "they did it to us last year too."
They gave up just 87 yards on the ground to Stony Brook, but Lyle Negron managed to pass for 279 yards and a touchdown. Of those, 184 of those yards were on receptions by SBU's top target, Malcolm Eugene.
"I think our defense tackled well, except on their tremendous receiver, Malcolm Eugene, I mean, we couldn't tackle him, he was really exceptional," Talley stated.
"I wanted to beat somebody that was pretty good, and I really think they were pretty good," Talley said of his take-awy from the game. "The spread was three points, you know, it was a toss-up game, so what I take from it is, now this is the way that you can play. You need to be reaching for that plateau because [Towson, New Hampshire and William & Mary], we're going to have to play that well, and here comes the Ivy League champion, Penn won that six-seven years and they're always tough against us."
We finally played Villanova football! Our staff did a great job! Team win for sure. Happy parents weekend.— Andy Talley (@Coach_Talley) September 22, 2013
Villanova reported a crowd of 11,617 for the game, which was Andy Talley's 199th victory on the Main Line. The coach will go for win number 200 next week against Penn.
This article originally appeared on SBNation.Click here for the full article »