Nov. 19, 2012
PHILADELPHIA, Pa.--Villanova (8-3, 6-2 CAA) won a share of the CAA title and is headed to the playoffs as the league's automatic bid to the Division I Football Championship. Now the postseason honors will start to pour in for the Wildcats, whose six-game regular season turnaround from last year's 2-9 mark was the best of any FCS team this season.
Head coach Andy Talley and redshirt freshman quarterback John Robertson were named finalists for top national awards by the Sports Network today. Talley is one of 20 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award given to the top FCS coach in the nation and Robertson is one of 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award which goes to the top FCS freshman.
Talley and Robertson were named as the CAA Coach of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year earlier on Monday in a release of the CAA postseason award winners and All-CAA teams. Robertson earned a spot on the all-conference third team and Talley was named Coach of the Year for the second time in the past four seasons.
Villanova is headed to the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five seasons and the 10th time during Talley's tenure. Talley led his charges to an 8-3 regular season and the CAA automatic bid after the Wildcats were predicted to finish eighth in the CAA in a preseason poll of league head coaches.
During the season Villanova was the only team in the CAA to defeat Old Dominion, which had a 7-1 league record and is the No. 4 overall seed in the FCS playoffs. In fact, the Wildcats played two teams ranked in the top-10 of the national rankings during the regular season (No. 3 Old Dominion, No. 9 James Madison) and Villanova won those two games by a combined 39 points.
Robertson is one of the biggest reasons that Villanova is enjoying such a special year. Inserted into a starting role following the first week of the season, he has gone 8-2 in his first 10 career starts while proving to be a threat with both his arm and his legs. Robertson has thrown for 1,830 yards and 14 touchdowns with just five interceptions while completing 61.7 percent of his passes (137-of-222).
He is also the second leading rusher for a Wildcats team which leads the CAA in rushing offense. Robertson has run for 936 yards on 174 carries (5.4 yards per carry) and has a team-high 13 rushing touchdowns. He has gone over the 100-yard rushing mark in three games this season and also became the first player in school history to pass for run for over 100 yards while also passing for over 300 yards in the same game.
Voting for both the Eddie Robinson Award and the Jerry Rice Award will be conducted amongst a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcaster, writers and other dignitaries this week, and presented at the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation on Monday, December 17 in Philadelphia. Voting closes prior to the start of the playoffs this weekend and each award is based only on regular season accomplishments.
The Eddie Robinson Award is presented to the national coach of the year at the FCS level and Talley is a previous recipient of the award. The other finalists this year are, in alphabetical order: Dino Babers (Eastern Illinois), Beau Baldwin (Eastern Washington), Dick Biddle (Colgate), Craig Bohl (North Dakota State), Monte Coleman (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Clint Conque (Central Arkansas), Walt Hameline (Wagner), Kevin Higgins (The Citadel), Brian Jenkins (Bethune-Cookman), Joe Moglia (Coastal Carolina), Joe Moorhead (Fordham), Karl Morgan (Mississippi Valley State), Chuck Priore (Stony Brook), Danny Rocco (Richmond), Jason Simpson (Tennessee-Martin), Brock Spack (Illinois State), Bob Surace (Princeton), Jeff Voris (Butler) and Tim Walsh (Cal Poly).
The Jerry Rice Award is in its second year of existence and was awarded to Terrance West of Towson last season. It is named for legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice, who was a two-time first team All-American in the FCS at Mississippi Valley State. The other finalists in addition to Robertson, in alphabetical order, are: Vernon Adams (Eastern Washington, quarterback); Zak Browning (Southern Utah, linebacker); Terrick Colston (Delaware State, safety); James Cowser (Southern Utah, defensive end); Luke Hagy (Cornell, running back); Reese Hannon (Furman, quarterback); Jacob Huesman (Chattanooga, quarterback); Jake Hutson (Valparaiso, running back); Jameer Jackson (North Dakota, wide receiver); Sawyer Kollmorgen (Northern Iowa, quarterback); T.J. Lally (South Dakota State, linebacker); Scott Lathrop (Southeast Missouri State, quarterback); Kieran McDonagh (Portland State, quarterback); Sean Price (Appalachian State, wide receiver); J.J. Raffelson (Western Illinois, linebacker); Luke Rhodes (William & Mary, linebacker); Elandon Roberts (Morgan State, linebacker); Jeff Williams (Delaware, linebacker); and Josh Woodrum (Liberty, quarterback).