Andy Talley Named CAA Coach of the Year; Robertson is Top Offensive Rookie
Nov. 19, 2012
RICHMOND, Va.--For the second time in the last four years head coach Andy Talley was named the CAA Coach of the Year by his peers and Villanova received two major awards on Monday morning when the league office announced its postseason all-conference squad. Redshirt freshman quarterback John Robertson (Paramus, N.J.) was named the CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Wildcats had a total of 12 players earn All-CAA recognition.
Talley is the CAA Coach of the Year for the third time in his career and the second time since 2009 after leading Villanova to an 8-3 regular season and an automatic bid to the Division I Football Championship. After winning just two games with a young team last season the Wildcats were predicted to finish eighth in the CAA this year in a preseason poll of league head coaches. Talley instead led Villanova to a share of the CAA title and the team's fourth playoff berth in the last five years.
During the season the Wildcats were 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, Villanova 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 the Wildcats 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.
This is the second straight season that a Villanova player has earned a Rookie of the Year award. Last year Dillon Lucas was chosen as the CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year, while this season Robertson becomes the first Wildcat ever to be the league's top offensive rookie.
The dozen all-conference picks from Villanova included four members of the All-CAA first team, three players on the second team and five third team picks. There was also a split of five offensive players, six defensive players and one special teams player among the 12 selections. Two of the Wildcats 12 all-conference honorees - junior nose guard Antoine Lewis (Somers Point, N.J.) and senior wide receiver Norman White (Hammonton, N.J.) - are earning All-CAA recognition for the second time in their careers. Each of the other 10 players garnered all-conference honors for the first time.
Lewis is a first team honoree and was joined from the Villanova defense by junior defensive end Rakim Cox (San Diego, Calif.) and senior cornerback Eric Loper (Sicklerville, N.J.). On the offensive side sophomore running back Kevin Monangai (Roseland, N.J.) is also a first team selection.
The three Wildcats on the All-CAA second team are junior right guard Josh Bucci (Beaver, Pa.), senior defensive end Marlon Johnson (Baltimore, Md.) and senior linebacker Devon Bridges (Upper Marlboro, Md.).
Robertson added to his Offensive Rookie of the Year Award a spot on the All-CAA third team, where he was joined by White, sophomore right tackle Vince Kowalski (Williamstown, N.J.), sophomore punt returner Poppy Livers (Seaside, Calif.) and sophomore free safety Joe Sarnese (Ventnor, N.J.).
Below, in alphabetical order, are profiles of each of the Villanova players to earn All-CAA accolades.
Devon Bridges (Senior, Linebacker, 6-0, 250, Upper Marlboro, Md. / Frederick Douglas)
In his second year as a starter Bridges has been the leading performer at a position that is always one of the Wildcats strengths on the defensive side of the ball. Bridges leads Villanova with 10.5 tackles for loss this season, while his 4.5 quarterback sacks are second on the squad and his total of 57 tackles rank third on the team.
Bridges also has two pass break-ups and one interception during the season. He registered his first career interception in a win over James Madison and has also established single-game career highs in tackles for loss (2.5 at Georgia State) and sacks (2.0 at Maine). For his career Bridges has played in 47 games and has registered 146 tackles (82 solo, 64 assisted) while making 19.5 tackles for loss and totaling 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three pass break-ups, one interception and one fumble recovery.
Josh Bucci (Junior, Right Guard, 6-6, 330, Beaver, Pa. / Beaver)
Bucci is in his third year as a starter and is part of a Wildcats offensive line which has enabled the team's skill players to have a banner season. Villanova averages 434.8 yards of total offense per game, including a CAA best 263.4 rushing yards per contest. The Wildcats have rushed for 2,897 yards on the season and the offensive line has allowed just 24 sacks by opposing defenses, including five games where the other team had zero or one sack in the contest.
Villanova is averaging 31.2 points per game and has surpassed 40 points twice during the season. In addition all eight of the Wildcats victories have come by a margin of at least 15 points. Bucci has played in 36 career games and has started the last 33 of them.
Rakim Cox (Junior, Defensive End, 6-4, 265, San Diego, Calif. / San Diego)
A three-year starter, Cox has blossomed into a playmaker on the Villanova defensive line. This season he is leading the team with 5.5 quarterback sacks while amassing a total of seven tackles for loss. Overall forth season Cox has tallied 24 tackles, four pass break-ups and a blocked kick.
Thanks to the season that Cox is having the Wildcats rank third in the CAA in sacks and fourth in pass defense, while Cox is tied for second individually with his 5.5 sacks. In 36 games Cox has career totals of 75 tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss, nine sacks, 13 pass break-ups, three forced fumbles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick.
Marlon Johnson (Senior, Defensive End, 6-3, 260, Baltimore, Md. / St. Mary's)
Johnson is one of the most experienced players on the Villanova defense and is enjoying another strong season. He has registered 34 tackles (22 solo, 12 assisted) for the season while making 6.5 tackles for loss and recording four quarterback sacks. Johnson also has one fumble recovery for the year.
This is the third season in a starting role for Johnson, who missed most of the 2010 season with an injury but has nonetheless started all 38 of his career appearances. He has registered 101 career tackles with 14.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one interception.
Vince Kowalski (Sophomore, Right Tackle, 6-4, 290, Williamstown, N.J. / Williamstown)
Kowalski is part of a big sophomore class for the Wildcats that gained significant experience last season and has now led Villanova to a share of the CAA title this season. Kowalski has started all 22 games the past two seasons and this year is part of an offensive line that has allowed the Wildcats to average 434.8 yards of total offense per game, including a CAA best 263.4 rushing yards per contest.
Villanova has rushed for 2,897 yards on the season and the offensive line has allowed just 24 sacks by opposing defenses, including five games where the other team had zero or one sack in the contest. The Wildcats are averaging 31.2 points per game and have surpassed 40 points twice during the season. In addition all eight of the team's victories have come by a margin of at least 15 points.
Antoine Lewis (Junior, Nose Guard, 6-2, 290, Somers Point, N.J. / Mainland)
Lewis previously earned third team All-CAA honors as a freshman in 2010 and earns his second all-conference selection this season with a first team nod. He is one of five Villanova players this season with at least 50 tackles and his totals for the season include 50 tackles (29 solo, 21 assisted), 8.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one fumble recovery and one pass break-up.
This season Lewis was named a preseason All-CAA pick and followed up that recognition with a strong year for a Wildcats defense which is allowing only 21.0 points per game. For his career Lewis has played in 36 games and registered 142 tackles (76 solo, 66 assisted) while accumulating 16.0 tackles for loss, four sacks, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, one pass break-up and one blocked kick.
Poppy Livers (Sophomore, Wide Receiver/Punt Returner, 5-6, 165, Seaside, Calif. / St. Francis)
One of the most exciting moments of the 2012 season was provided by Livers in a game at Georgia State when he returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown. He is the first player in Talley's tenure at Villanova to return a punt for a touchdown and became the first Wildcat to achieve the feat since the 1980 season. Livers is the only Villanova player to return a punt this season and in his 10 returns he has racked up 168 yards (16.8 yards per return) with the one score. He has two returns of 50 yards or longer and the Wildcats lead the CAA in punt return average.
In addition to his punt return duties Livers has also recorded two kickoff returns and has made contributions to the Villanova receiving corps. He has 17 receptions for 191 yards on the year, averaging 11.2 yards per catch with a long reception of 63 yards. Livers has also tallied three rushes for 68 yards. After his punt return for a touchdown at Georgia State, Livers was named the CAA Special Teams Player of the Week.
Eric Loper (Senior, Cornerback, 5-11, 190, Sicklerville, N.J. / Timber Creek)
With his 42-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the game against Delaware, Loper became the first Wildcat since 1989 to return two interceptions for a touchdown in a single season. He also had a pick-six in a win over Georgia State earlier in the year. Loper is tied for the team lead with four interceptions on the season and he leads the Villanova defense with 13 pass break-ups. Loper also has one fumble recovery and ranks fourth on the team with 51 total tackles (38 solo, 13 assisted).
Loper leads all active players on the Wildcats defense with 51 career games played and his career totals include 234 tackles (159 solo, 75 assisted), 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, 30 pass break-ups, eight interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Earlier this season he was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Week on October 14 after he had a fumble recovery, an interception, two pass break-ups and four tackles in a 38-14 win at then-No. 3 Old Dominion.
Kevin Monangai (Sophomore, Running Back, 5-8, 200, Roseland, N.J. / Seton Hall Prep)
The biggest factor in Villanova's offensive success this season has been the team's dominant running game and Monangai is the leader of the Wildcats ground game. He is the fourth Villanova player ever to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single season and his 1,190 yards to date are already the third-highest one-year total in school history. Monangai leads the CAA in rushing yards and rushing yards per game (108.2) and has reached his impressive season total thanks to seven games with 100 yards or more.
Monangai has 11 rushing touchdowns for the season and has produced three runs of 40 yards or longer. His seven 100-yard games are tied for second most in school history with former Wildcat great Brian Westbrook. Monangai and Westbrook are the only two players in Villanova history to have six or more 100-yard games in a season, while Monangai's career total of seven games with at least 100 rushing yards ranks in the top five in the Wildcats record book. In addition to his running totals Monangai has also registered 11 receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
John Robertson (Redshirt Freshman, Quarterback, 6-1, 210, Paramus, N.J. / Paramus)
Villanova would not be where it is this season without the production of Robertson, who was named the CAA Rookie of the Week five times in 11 weeks during the season and also garnered one National Freshman of the Week honor. Robertson came off the bench in the season opener at Temple and has started every game since for the Wildcats, who are 8-2 with Robertson starting under center. In a game against Richmond earlier this season Robertson became the first player in school history to pass for over 300 yards and run for over 100 yards in the same game. He racked up 425 yards of total offense (308 passing, 117 rushing) in the game against Richmond, which is the fourth-highest single-game total in the Villanova record book.
Robertson leads the Wildcats with 13 rushing touchdowns this season and his 936 rushing yards are the second-highest total for a quarterback in Villanova history. He has run 174 times and averages 5.4 yards per carry with a per-game average of 85.1 yards. Robertson has surpassed 100 yards on the ground three times during the season, including a 189-yard performance at Old Dominion which is the 10th-highest single game total in Wildcats history.
As a passer Robertson is 137-of-222 (61.7 percent) for 1,830 yards with 14 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He has an efficiency rating of 147.26 which is third-best in the CAA, while he ranks fifth in the league in total passing yards.
Joe Sarnese (Sophomore, Free Safety, 6-0, 200, Ventnor, N.J. / Holy Spirit)
Sarnese is a big playmaker for the Villanova defense who has started 18 consecutive games dating back to last season. He leads the team with 69 tackles (51 solo, 18 assisted) this year and is also tied for the Wildcats lead with four interceptions. Sarnese has registered 2.5 tackles for loss and three pass break-ups for the season. In addition to his defensive production Sarnese also has returned nine kickoffs for a team-high average of 26.0 yards per return. He registered an 85-yard kickoff return against Fordham earlier in the year.
In his two seasons at Villanova, Sarnese has registered 131 tackles (92 solo, 39 assisted) and has four interceptions, four pass break-ups, 3.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble. He also has tallied 16 kickoff returns for 382 yards with an average of 23.9 yards per return.
Norman White (Senior, Wide Receiver, 6-4, 220, Hammonton, N.J. / St. Joseph's)
White missed the 2011 season with an injury after earning first team All-CAA honors in 2010. He has returned in a big way for the Wildcats this season and leads the team with 38 receptions and six receiving touchdowns. White has 489 receiving yards on the year and averages 12.9 yards per catch. Prior to the season he was selected as a Sports Network preseason second team All-American.
White's 53 career games played are the most of any current Villanova player. His career receiving totals include 132 catches for 1,720 yards and 19 touchdowns. He ranks 12th in school history in career receiving yards and 11th for most career receptions. White also needs just one more touchdown of any kind to become the 24th player in school history with at least 20 touchdowns.