Oct. 8, 2013
Villanova head coach Andy Talley...
Opening statement: I'm obviously very pleased that we're able to win a game against a team that always gives us fits. I think we played two complete halves. The penalties were very disconcerting. I'll have a look at the tape and see, but we had some things going out there. We wanted to shut the door in the second half and we just couldn't get that next touchdown to maybe get it out of reach. That kind of slowed us down in the third quarter, but I think when it came down to it, John [Robertson] had a terrific game, both throwing and running. Defensively, I think we came up with four turnovers, three interceptions and a fumble recovery. It's really tough, I think, to beat anybody when you turn the ball over like that. I think we had a pretty good read on their defense. For the first time in a long time, we were able to come out and run the ball against them. When you can do that, obviously you've got a good chance to win. I'm really pleased with the effort.
We had problems up front. We lost our center, Ross Hall, and we had to move Danny Shirey, who's injured, from guard to center. We put Pete Sotiriou in, who never plays. And then we had to take Danny Shirey out because his back was killing him, and then we really were depleted in the offensive line. We had one of our guards out with a concussion; he's been out for two weeks. We're just a beat-up team right now. I loved the effort. I think we played hard and beat a good team. Penn, it's their second game, our fourth game, so that's always a bit of an advantage for us.
On the team's sense of urgency: I think they know we have a really tough road coming up. Unless we can go out and play the way we played the last two weeks, we don't really have a shot. We've got William & Mary coming in, and then we have to go on the road at Towson and JMU and New Hampshire. The hits just keep on coming. But I think we have a good football team. If we can stay healthy and not get any more guys hurt, we can line up and beat anybody.
On the blocked field goal run for a touchdown: I think that was really big. I think in every game, there's probably three plays that define the game, and that was one. I think the interception was another one, and I think John's run, darting up the middle and scoring - I'd put that in the top three of the game. When you have a drive, you feel like you earned something, and then to have it completely wiped out and the other team scores against you - it's like opening the game up and having a kickoff returned against you. Eighty percent of the time you lose the game. That kind of thing really deflates the team.
On junior wide receiver Poppy Livers: He's the epitome of the guy who comes into the program and is a talented little guy, but you sort of go, OK, just hang over there on the scout team. He's like that fly that keeps buzzing around you that you just can't swat him, and you just realize that he's 100 percent all football. He lives, breaths and dies for it. It's a perfect example of a guy who's hungry. He needed a scholarship to stay here. I'm sorry to say, but I think at times he went looking for a place to eat before he was on scholarship. We tried to help him in so many different ways and then finally, he just won a scholarship. You could not hold him back. He's just a dynamic player. He keeps Jamal Abdur-Rahman on the bench half the time, and he's one of the great recruits we've had. He hasn't come into his own yet, but we can't get Jamal on the field as much as we'd like because Poppy is so good.
Sophomore quarterback John Robertson...
On the team's sense of urgency: We're definitely going into every game thinking - I mean, we started 0-2, so we're trying to climb back up to where we felt we should've been. Just going into every game not taking anything for granted, and it starts with practicing. I think we've been practicing great leading up to these games, and we have to keep doing that.
On junior running back Kevin Monangai: I think it's great getting in another dimension of our offense. He runs hard every time, he gives it all he's got. I feel it's good he got over 100 yards running today, just good for his morale. He knows his position on our team, and we're going to need him.
On junior wide receiver Poppy Livers: Me and Poppy have a great connection. All summer we went out and through routes together, it was just a matter of time before we clicked on field during games. I think it's great that we got a couple touchdowns today.
Junior safety Joe Sarnese...
On his interceptions: The play previous to the two interceptions I made, I made a bad play. The first one I missed a tackle and the second one I got beat deep down the hash. We always talk about it, having a short memory and getting over it quick. I guess I just had that opportunity and took it.
On the blocked field goal turning into a touchdown: Rakim [Cox] is great. He's been getting a lot of push and I don't think anyone has been able to stop him yet. I'm so happy for Craig [James], he's been due for a touchdown, and he got one on 73 yards.
Junior Wide Receiver Poppy Livers...
On his game: It felt great. Before every game, John comes up to me and says, `I trust you.' I was like, find me, I'll be open. It felt great to do it at home, it felt great to do it for Coach Talley's 200th career win. I would've have done it without my teammates. They were out there blocking for me. It goes down to the coaches too, trusting me to do this.
Penn head coach Al Bagnoli...
On the team's mistakes: I'm disappointed not with our effort, because I thought we played hard, but with our execution. Our margin of error was great. We had a blocked field goal for a touchdown, two turnovers in the end zone. They made big plays all over the place. We were erratic in the kicking area. It just was not anywhere near as polished as I hoped we'd be. Obviously some of it was caused by them. That's a really good football team with speed all over the place. I have to give Villanova credit, but I just didn't think we played at the level we're capable of playing at, or anywhere near the level we wanted to play this game. From that perspective, I think we still have the makings of a pretty good football team.
On throwing the ball more: We did some good things in front of the ball, but if we're going in front of it, we didn't want to throw the ball 50 times. That's unfortunately how the game unfolded. We were trying somewhat to keep it close. We have confidence in [wide receiver] Conner [Scott]; we have confidence in [quarterback] Billy [Ragone] and the rest of our receivers. Against some pretty good pass rushers we did manage to gain some yards but we really did not finish the drives as well as we're capable of finishing them. As I said, we threw two interceptions in the end zone when we had opportunities to go down deep. We had a field goal blocked, and you can't do that against a team that's as good as Villanova is. It's a recipe for disaster.
On Villanova's sense of urgency: I think they're not holding back very much. I think they get that their margin of error in the long term may not be as great as it could've been. I think they're playing with a sense of desperation. They've really involved the quarterback now, running with the football more than in week one or week two, and I think he's responded. He's really a gifted kid and was playing at a speed that we just don't see. We really had our hands full trying to corral him, our hands full trying to tackle him in space and our hands full trying to contain him on all those outside plays.