Villanova football dominates thanks to offensive line

Andy Talley and the Villanova Wildcats won the FCS National Championship in 2009. Credit: Getty Images Andy Talley and the Villanova Wildcats won the FCS National Championship in 2009. Credit: Getty Images

After the quarterback has a big day throwing the ball or the running back goes over 100 yards with a couple of touchdowns, it’s not unusual for him to say, “The line did a great job for me today.’”

While it sounds sincere, it’s kind of like the Oscar winner thanking his publicist or the guy behind the camera. Nobody’s really paying attention.

But for those who did pay attention to Villanova’s 41-7 blowout of Penn last Saturday at venerable Franklin Field to foil Al Bagnoli’s final chance to beat his good buddy, Andy Talley, the Wildcats’ offensive line was remarkable. While most will point to Villanova quarterback John Robertson’s 230 yards and four touchdowns to go with Gary Underwood’s 93 yards and two scores rushing, here’s the most telling stat: Villanova amassed 265 yards in the first quarter alone, 417 by the half and was in such command most of the starters didn’t even play after intermission.

“We were clicking,”said senior right tackle Vince Kowalski.

In reality, the 3-1 Wildcats have been virtually unstoppable since Day One. Since losing in double overtime at Syracuse after missing a chip shot field goal at the end of regulation, they’ve outscored opponents 140-44.. Going into the season Talley knew he had weapons at the skill positions. He just didn’t know what to expect from a line replacing three starters.

“Mark Ferrante, who’s been with me 28 years, had a bit of a down year last year with our o-line,” explained Talley. “He came in foaming at the mouth this year determined to get our guys ready.We thought we had enough weapons this year to be a really good team. If we could just solve that problem it would go a long way towards developing the offense. And it has.”

Since incorporating junior Kyle Wallace and redshirt sophomores Brad Seaton and Jake Prus alongside holdovers Kowalski and center Ross Hall, the Wildcats have roared.

“Vince and I took it upon ourselves to bring these young guys up,” said Hall, like Kowalski, a pre-season CAA first team pick. “Get them to mesh with us right away.I think the first four games we’ve done that real well. It’s tricky to put different people in different places, but I think now all the pieces are in place.”

The new guys appreciate it.

“They’ve made it so much easier for me,’’ said Seaton, a big boy at 6-foot-8, 305 pounds. “They communicate well and have done a great job bringing us along.”

The overmatched Quakers learned that the hard way Saturday. Now it’s time for Villanova to show the rest of the CAA.

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