Sept. 3, 2009
Villanova head coach Andy Talley...
Opening statement: Opening statement: Obviously our game plan was just about the way you saw it. We hoped we could get Temple into the fourth quarter and that we could stay close. It was an uphill battle all day because they are very good and their defense is really excellent.
Our players made some first game mistakes which I wasn't sure we could overcame. We needed to try to stay close because I really felt that if we got into a fourth quarter or overtime situation that we had won enough and we would be able to figure out a way to win. It came down to that.
It was an extremely hard-hitting, physical, well-played game for a first game, for both teams. Temple is very good. It is a tough game for them to take. It is a hard game whenever you play a level down and are expected to win.
Temple was playing a pretty good team in Villanova and they let us hang in the game. That's the key. If you can hang in the game then from a Villanova standpoint I think we always have a chance to win. That was the critical factor for us. You can talk about the passing and the running and the tackling, etc., but it came down to us finding a way to stay into the fourth quarter, to keep it close and find a way to win at the end. We were pretty fortunate because if John Dempsey hadn't fallen after making the interception he would have maybe scored and won it right there. I was happy that with a freshman kicker we were able to get a big kick and win at the end.
On the difference between this game and the game Villanova won against Temple in 2003: This is equally as exciting as in 2003. This was a better Temple team and a better-coached football team. There were a lot of stakes and things on the link with this game for them. Now they have to play Penn State and Buffalo. Temple had to be ready for us and they knew from history that we won a few years ago and had the ability to do it. Whether or not they thought we could do it tonight I don't know, but there were huge stakes in this game and it is a huge win for Villanova.
On Chris Whitney's play in the second half: One of the things we were looking for from Chris as he continues to improve was for him to be able to throw downfield in third down situations. Last year he would just pull it down and run and we knew can't get where we want to get to if he does that. He probably would get hurt doing that but we need to be able to pass on third down and Chris was able to execute in those situations tonight. He managed the game well against a very strong pass rush from Temple. They are a difficult team defensively to deal with. Chris had to scramble at times and make plays on the run but sometimes he just stood in there and made throws on time and that was good to see.
On the significance of the game to the rest of the season: It is a big motivator for us because it was a critical game. Our league is so tough right now and we are going to face some difficult teams. If you lose to your FBS opponent, you can only lose two more because if you lose another one you are out of the playoff system. We want to be in the playoff system so it was a big plus to beat a team when we weren't predicted to win.
On scoring the last four possessions after not scoring the first eight possessions: I think the familiarity with what we were seeing was the difference. We knew what they were going to do because we had seen it in the first half. We were able to make some adjustments and get into a rhythm and decide what we could do and what we couldn't do. That was the big thing in the second half, that we dialed in some plays that we knew could be successful. We got plays off quickly and manufactured points that way but it was an ugly run. Temple's defense is just so good.
On the physical nature of the game: I think it was precisely the problem that we hadn't had enough hard work [contact]. When you have limited numbers and with a good team you don't want to bring them into the first game banged up. We didn't have a lot of rhythm in the first half but as the game unfolded we started to become the team I think we can become.
On how playing in the CAA prepares Villanova for a game like this: Our league is a great primer for a game like this. In our playoff system you are playing mid-level FBS teams. When you look at the top 14-16 FCS teams, you are taking teams that can play at the FBS level. When you have that experience and play against the top teams in our league during the season then your primer for a game like this is all set for you. We were well prepared for a difficult battle and you just develop a will. It comes down to whether they will break our will or we will break theirs. That's what it came down to tonight and I think we broke their will.
On college football in Philadelphia: I have a lot of respect for Temple's program. They put in a lot of hard work and have a lot of energy. They have a great coach and they are going to be there. If you take Temple along with Villanova, Penn and Delaware, those are four outstanding college football teams. We suffer from Hollywood and from the NFL and the Eagles because in the newspaper you have to turn to page 5 before you see anything about college football. I think the NFL Network and the NFL itself are so powerful that they dwarf all of us so much.
All of you at the game today saw a great game. You watched kids that do great community work. Al Golden and I work together on the bone marrow program. We tested over 8,000 people this year. Temple is a big factor in that. We do great things day in and day out and put a good product on the field. Our kids do well and they graduate. Philadelphia is missing college football. I have been here 25 years and the city is missing a great game. I don't know what the answer is but a game like this helps it. The people who came here tonight are going to want to come back and see those teams play here. I hope it gets better but it is a real uphill battle.
On converting a 4th-and-5 play on the first Villanova drive in fourth quarter: We were pretty sure on that drive that we wouldn't give up the football and that we weren't going to punt the football. We needed to keep that drive going and go for the first down because if we have them the football we probably weren't going to see it again.
On Ross Ventrone: Ross is the glue to our secondary. He is a great story out of Pittsburgh, a kid that was not recruited at all. He was just a small skinny kid. Ross is a very important player for us. He has developed into a tremendous free safety who holds everything together for us and makes big plays. The play where he picked up the ball on the fumble and ran it in for a touchdown was why we were still in the game at the end.
On the five turnovers by Temple: Turnovers can be hard to figure out sometimes. There was a lot of physicality in the game tonight and I think that had a lot to do with it. On a couple of the interceptions they threw it right to us. Sometimes you are in the right place and other times not.
Redshirt freshman kicker Nick Yako...
On the game-winning field goal: Coach Talley just told me to keep by head down and just kick the ball. That's what I did. I was doing my job. Sean Morrissey did his job on the snap and Marlon Calbi did a great job on the hold. The line blocked very well. Everyone did their job. It's a great feeling. I am very happy. I had a kick [at the end of a game] in high school. Coach Talley came out before I kicked and said to have fun. That relaxed me a little bit.
On his approach to the last field goal: I just wanted to keep my head down and do my job. I know what I have to do. On the first field goal it came off my foot wrong and still went in. The timeout disrupted me a little bit.
On making the game-winning kick: Every kicker dreams of kicking that game-winning field goal. Tonight that was the reality.
Junior strong safety John Dempsey...
On his late interception: I think the 35-yard line got me. I was just too anxious and I stumbled. The defensive line did an unbelievable job forcing the pocket. He was going to throw the other way but the other side was totally covered. I was covering the back side and I saw the ball flying at me at the last second. I wanted to catch it first but when I caught it I looked up.
Junior wide receiver Brandyn Harvey...
On the way he played: Late in the game we had to go down and score and I just wanted to make sure I didn't fumble like I did earlier. On the touchdown I found a hole in the defense. I don't know what I was thinking in the first half. My coaches told me that great receivers find a way to come back and forget about what happened. I want to be great so I forgot about the first half, as you were able to see.
Junior quarterback Chris Whitney...
On his play in the first half and second half: I was mad at myself but you have to let it go and forget about it. The coaches kept encouraging me but that's something you kind of have to do yourself. There is nothing you can do about the past so you have to get past it and just look forward.
Junior wide receiver Matt Szczur...
On the comeback win: It isn't about how your start, it's how you finish. Every game last season was such a grind for us. We are kind of used to that, not used to losing but used to being in touch situations. There wasn't a lot of pressure for us. We stayed calm and poised and did okay because we came out with a win.
On the meaning of the win: It is hard to explain. It is definitely satisfying because all the hard work put in during the summer and in camp definitely paid off.