Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante…
Opening statement: Obviously you guys saw the game, a lot of big plays on both sides of the ball. We had a little adversity in some of the tipped passes they got, and the long play. We had pretty good defense on some of their wideouts, but on a few of the plays they came up with the catch. We kept persevering and hanging in there, and we were able to finish the game down at the end. I’m real proud of our team and it feels really good to get my first head coaching win.
On whether he was nervous before the game: I would be lying to you if I didn’t say I was nervous coming in. A lot of emotions going into the first one obviously. It [hadn’t] really felt that different, as long as I have been as this school, with the transition through last season to spring ball, to summer conditioning and all that. It felt a little different taking the field today, so that’s probably the most different I felt is taking the field. It was my first pre-game talk to the team, first halftime talk to the team, first post-game talk to the team, so I’m glad I got those out of the way because hopefully I’ll improve in those areas as well.
On his family ties in Bethlehem: My wife is from Bethlehem, and we had 40 family members on her side and obviously on my side people came down from Syracuse and Connecticut as well. I didn’t see any of them yet. I’m kind of glad; the only person I saw was my brother and my niece pre-game. I think if I saw all 40 it might have gotten a little emotional, but I’ll wait to see them afterwards.
On whether he felt the game could be slipping away at times late in the game: I don’t know if I felt it was slipping away, but I never felt that we were going away with it either. I always felt that we almost couldn’t do enough to get them to go away. Again, to our guys’ credit, we just kept working through the adversity and persevering. That’s our motto, that’s the whole tap the rock theory that we’re just going to keep grinding as much as we can. Fortunately we ended up on the positive side of things here today.
On starting the season with an FCS opponent (first time since 2004): We always play the FBS game, and the guys here sitting with me today, this is the first time we haven’t played an FBS opener in their career. We usually start out 0-1 unfortunately, with that opponent and with a bigger school. I was glad we played a more level opponent, an FCS opponent in Lehigh, although they’re a really strong opponent as we all know. We knew we had a challenge ahead of us. We approach every game the same way, and that’s really going to be my philosophy. Let’s not worry as much about what the opponent is doing. Let’s focus on how we’re executing on both sides of the ball and our special teams. Let’s focus on what we’re doing as opposed to who we’re playing. Let’s talk about how we’re playing.
On getting his first win: Mark Jackson, our athletic director, just presented me with a game ball at the end of the game because it is my first head coaching victory. That was great, but I just said in the locker room that it’s not my win. It’s Villanova’s win. It’s Villanova football’s win, it’s our win. It’s the team, the coaching staff, the support staff. It’s everybody that had the confidence and faith in allowing me to be the head coach here first of all. So we’re going to have that ball painted up and everyone is going to sign it. It’s not going to just have the Lehigh score, victory number one, it’s going to have everyone’s signature on it because it belongs to everybody.
On playing an FBS game against Temple next week: We’ll take a deep breath. We’ll enjoy this one for probably less than 24 hours, and then we’ll be back in the office preparing for the next one.
Senior running back Matt Gudzak…
On having a career-high 142 rushing yards and two touchdowns: It feels great. It feels like forever since I have been able to play in the first game with my teammates. Personally, I’m healthy, I feel great and I’m just happy to be out there in the season opener to do what I can and provide for this team. I can only do so much. I can only give so much credit to myself; moreover, I give the credit to the linemen for busting their butts each down and creating those holes for me. Without them these yards or touchdowns wouldn’t mean anything.
Junior right guard Louie Csaszar…
On playing near home: It was exciting for me. I had a lot of family come to this game and I knew that Lehigh was a tough first opponent. Usually we start off with a 1-A team, and coming into this week we didn’t change our thoughts coming into it. We didn’t overlook [Lehigh] going into Temple, and we came out, played hard-nosed football and got the win.
On what he thought on the final drive when Villanova sealed the game with a first down: The only thing going through my head was I can’t whiff here. He lowered his shoulder, I lowered mine and put him on his back. That opened up a hole for the running back to get through and keep the drive going.
On the offense’s mind set getting the ball back with a three-point lead and four-plus minutes to play: The only thought process we had was get the first down, get the first down. We weren’t looking to do anything else. Punting was not a thought process in our head, we were just worried about getting the first down.
Senior linebacker Ed Shockley…
On getting ready to play in what was Coach Ferrante’s first game as a head coach: I wouldn’t tell you it was too hard. We definitely wanted to go out there and get this win for Coach Ferrante, but for ourselves it has been a long time since we’ve started up – I know since I’ve been here – we haven’t started off 1-0. We usually play a single-A opponent and Lehigh is not much different, they’re a high-powered offense, they’re very well-coached. We really wanted to stay focused and get this win for ourselves and for Coach Ferrante.