Aug. 6, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - In the first of a two-part season preview the Villanova football offense is profiled. The team opened preseason camp this week and will kick off the 2013 season on August 31 at Boston College. The second part of the season preview, featuring the Wildcats defense and kicking game, ran on Wednesday afternoon.
Expectations are high for the Villanova football team as the Wildcats prepare for the 2013 season. Villanova returns 16 starters and 35 letterwinners from last year's team that went 8-4 overall and 6-2 in CAA play to grab a share of the conference title and earn the program's fourth playoff appearance in the last five seasons.
In addition to being ranked in the top 10 in a number of national polls, the Wildcats are picked to win the CAA championship in the 2013 preseason predicted order of finish.
The Wildcats will play an 11-game schedule in 2013, including eight CAA games and three non conference contests. Villanova will kickoff the season on August 31 at ACC member Boston College. The other two non conference games will be against Fordham and Penn. Villanova's eight CAA games will be home contests versus Stony Brook, William & Mary, Maine and Delaware and four road games at Towson, New Hampshire, James Madison and Rhode Island.
Villanova has one of the top playmakers in all of FCS football in sophomore dual threat quarterback John Robertson (6-1, 210). As a redshirt freshman last year, Robertson earned the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS football, in addition to winning both the CAA and ECAC Offensive Rookie of the Year Awards. He was also named third team All-CAA. Robertson started 11 of 12 games a season ago and completed 152-of-253 for 1,965 yards and 14 touchdowns to go with 189 carries for 1,021 yards and 14 rushing scores.
Robertson will be backed-up by junior Chris Polony (6-3, 210) who has started five of the 12 career games he has played in. Polony possesses a strong, accurate throwing arm and is more than capable of leading the Wildcats if called upon. Sophomore Cody Pittman (5-9, 180) enters preseason practice third on the depth chart. Pittman possesses outstanding football instincts with a good understanding of the Wildcat offensive scheme.
The Wildcats have a dynamic one-two punch in the backfield with the junior tandem of Kevin Monangai (5-8, 210) and Austin Medley (5-11, 205). Monangai led the CAA in rushing last year with 1,210 yards on 212 carries (5.7 avg.) and 11 touchdowns. He also registered five 100-yard rushing games in 2012, including a career-high 192 yards against Maine. For his efforts last year, Monangai was a first team All-CAA selection.
Medley provides the team with big play capability. In nine games last year, he ran for 730 yards on 137 carries and one touchdown. He has averaged 5.3 yards per rush in his first two seasons.
Two other backs who should see playing time this season are sophomores Gary Underwood (6-0, 215) and Javon White (6-0, 185). Underwood is a quality blocker and a good runner who can also be a receiving threat out of the backfield. As a true freshman in 2012, he tallied 15 carries for 66 yards (4.4 avg.) and 12 catches for 106 yards. White is a speedster who carried 16 times for 63 yards a season ago.
Even though Villanova must replace its top receiver in Norman White who has been lost to graduation, the Wildcats look to have a capable group of wideouts to fill the receiving spots. The team's go-to receiver will be senior Joe Price (6-3, 200) who had a breakout season in 2012. Price started all 12 games last year and recorded 30 receptions for 616 yards for an average of 20.5 yards per catch. He also hauled in three touchdown receptions.
The receiver who had the best spring season was junior Clay Horne (6-6, 220) who earned the 2013 Spring Ball Most Improved Offensive Player Award. Horne, who will provide a big target at widoeut, looks poised for a breakout year. Sophomore Mike Burke (6-2, 210) is also expected to be a regular in the wide receiver rotation. Burke is a good route runner with good hands. He should use the experience he gained last year playing in eight games to be a contributor in the passing game in 2013. Sophomore Kevin Gulyas (5-11, 190) should also be in the mix for playing time at wide receiver. Gulyas saw time in six games last season and had three catches for 34 yards.
Villanova possesses three talented players at the slot position in junior Poppy Livers (5-6, 165), sophomore Aaron Wells (5-8, 185) and sophomore Jamal Abdur-Rahman (5-9, 175). Livers has shown great improvement throughout his Wildcat career. Livers will also serve as the team's punt returner. Wells, who possesses good speed and athleticism, has the ability to be a threat in both the running and passing games. Abdul-Rahman returns to the field after redshirting last season. As a true freshman in 2011, he tallied 21 catches for 218 yards and one touchdown to go with 38 carries for 293 yards (7.7 avg.) and two scores.
The position on the team where the Wildcats look to have the most depth is along the offensive line. Villanova has nine linemen who are ready to contribute, including three who have garnered All-CAA honors in their careers.
Senior Dan Shirey (6-3, 300) returns to action this year after missing all of the 2012 campaign with an achilles injury. Before missing all of last season, Shirey had started 34 straight games. As a junior in 2011, he was a first team All-CAA performer. Shirey is expected to start at either center or guard.
Senior Josh Bucci (6-6, 350) was named preseason first team All-CAA and is slated as the starter at guard. He has started 33 consecutive games for the Wildcats, including all 12 last year, en route to being named second team All-CAA. As a junior last season, Bucci helped anchor a Villanova offensive line that was instrumental in the Wildcats leading the CAA in rushing with an average of 252.8 yards per game.
Both tackles also return in 2013. Junior Vince Kowalski (6-4, 300), who was named third team All-CAA last year, has started all 23 games of his Villanova career. Kowalski has the potential to be a first team All-CAA performer. Senior Bill Vogel (6-4, 285) returns for his third year as a starter. Since transferring from Nebraska-Omaha, Vogel has made 23 consecutive starts at tackle.
Two other starters who return along the line are junior center Ross Hall (6-4, 290) and junior guard Kyle Wallace (6-2, 285). Hall filled in for the injured Shirey last year and made every start. He also has the ability to play guard. Wallace is a hard-nosed player who started at guard last season.
Redshirt freshman Jake Prus (6-6, 265) had an outstanding spring season and will fight for a starting spot along the offensive line. Other linemen who will battle for playing time include redshirt freshmen Brad Seaton (6-8, 280) and Jonathan Green (6-2, 305), along with juniors Pete Sotiriou (6-1, 295), Doug Turrell (6-4, 285) and Josh Polonio (6-3, 315).
Villanova is looking for big things from junior tight end Earnest Pettway (6-3, 250) who has the ability to be an offensive weapon due to his pass catching skills. Pettway made 13 catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns last season.
Junior Morgan Craig (6-2, 260) will also see playing time at tight end. Craig is a good run blocker who can also be a factor in the passing game.