Villanova Wildcats head coach Andy Talley met with the press this morning, and talked about 'Nova's victory over Towson, the performance John Robertson, and the difficulty of keeping a team motivated through success. You can listen to the CAA coaches coaches call here. Andy Talley's transcript follows:
Moderator: Okay, now welcome Villanova head coach Andy Talley onto the call. The Wildcats snapped Towson’s 10-game winning streak, with a 45-35 victory this past weekend. They’ll now travel up to Durham to take on New Hampshire, this Saturday at noon. That game can be seen live on Comcast SportsNet. Coach Talley, how are you this morning?
Talley: I’m good Zach, thanks.
Moderator: Coach, your fourth straight win now, which was a pretty big one. Would you talk about Saturday’s game down at Towson?
Talley: Well, I think it was one of the more bizarre games we’ve ever been in. I can’t remember one like that. In the first half, I think we had the ball for 50 plays, and I think they only had it for 9, which is really quite amazing. I think the turnover factor early in the game really hurt Towson. They had 3 turnovers in the first half, and we were able to convert that to 21 points, so I would say in the first half we were very, very opportunistic and were able to take advantage of the turnovers that Towson had.
But it was a great game day atmosphere, you know, it was an NBC game. There was a big crowd, lots of electricity in the air and I think both teams came prepared to play. But I think the early turnovers were certainly unfortunate for Towson and good for us. But they’re a great team, and they just kept coming, which I knew they would. Rob had them all stoked up in the second half and then the rain came and it was one of those games where you couldn’t have enough points. Every time I looked up at the clock we were ahead by 14, but I kept thinking we need to be ahead by 21. And so, you know, in the second half of the game they came on very strong.
I think the big lead that we took helped keep Terrance West away from running the ball, because they were forced to throw the ball a lot more and their game is really run the ball with Terrance West, and then go to play-action passes off of that. So, they had to get into a drop-back mode a little more which helped us. You know, we picked off three passes and our defense stepped up when they had to. But there was a lot of ebb and flow in the game. They blocked one of our punts, and that was a concern. They ran a kick back for a touchdown. I mean if you watch the game on TV it really had everything you want from a fan perspective, but from a coaching perspective it was a little rocky, obviously (laughs).
But we felt it was going to be important to put stress on Towson for four quarters and that’s what we tried to do. We’ve played enough big games to know you’re going to have that stress and you’ve got to roll with it. So that’s what we tried to do from that first quarter to the fourth quarter, and that's what we did. But they’re a great team. They’re very talented – lots of speed, very physical, they play with an attitude now. We stepped up and met that toe to toe and we were fortunate to get as many turnovers as we did early to get up and maintain the lead and knock them out of their game plan.
Harry Coyne, CBS Radio Sports: You’d spoken earlier about a meeting you had with John Robertson where he asked to run the football. Obviously he’s done that, but it looks like his leadership led your football team to another level. Could you talk about what he’s done, and the leadership that caused?
Talley: Well John of course is one of those dual-threat quarterbacks as we know, and we tried to protect him a little early in the season, but he came back to us and said he needs to run the ball more to feel comfortable. That’s what he did, and we hold our breath all the time but you know he was a real force on Saturday. I think he was the player of the week in the CAA, and he ran the ball great and threw the ball well. He was 17-18 throwing the ball and just had a great day running the ball. He’s a real force.
Harry Coyne, CBS Radio Sports: What about your club? Obviously, it appears they’ve hit their stride which as you said in the Media Day they could. What is the mood of your club right now?
Talley: Well winning four in a row gives you a certain amount of momentum. But you come off a win against the number 2 or 3 in the country, and now you’ve got to go to New Hampshire, which is not a great place to play. It’s very difficult to win up there, and they are one of the best teams in the country. Then we’ve got Maine here, and we’ve still got to go to JMU. So we’ve got a few hurdles to get over, but I think we’re in the best position. We’ve lost a few players for the season – 4 to be exact – and we’ve overcome that but we are real thin in certain spots, and we’ve got to keep the quarterback healthy. I think we’re probably playing as well as we can play right now.
Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer: With Robertson’s performance the other night - I know you’ve had Westbrook and some others – but can you think of any individual performances that were as impressive as that?
Talley: Well, you know a lot of the years get cloudy after so many years here, but I’ve got to tell you that it’s probably up there with the best one or two performances we have ever had by a quarterback. I think what made it so excellent was the fact that he did it against a really, really good football team. I mean this was not – this was an outfit that could win a national championship. He played great. He was very physical in the game, he was perfect throwing the ball. If it wasn’t number one, it would be very tough to remember who was better in a particular gameday performance.
Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer: It’s never easy going to New Hampshire. Do you fear any kind of letdown just because of how big the Towson win was?
Talley: It always worries you, but we try to play pretty even throughout the season and never spike one way too much in one particular game. I’m hoping we still have something left in the tank to play up there because we are going to get their best game. Sean’s a great coach, that staff really knows how to play, and they are a terrific team. We have our work cut out for us. We have a week off this week – there is no class here. We need to rest, because we just came through final exams, and that’s a killer. We always struggle during finals week. I think we’ve got a mature team, they’re a bit older, and they know the pitfalls of a big game and the backup game right after it. But we’re in the CAA. We’re going to play a great team the week after New Hampshire, so you’ve just got to keep on trucking. As we say, tap the rock, you’ve got to keep tapping the rock.
Terry Toohey, Delco Times: You alluded to the maturity of this team. Does that keep this team even keeled? You didn’t seem to get too down or press too much when you were 0-2, and you didn’t seem to panic when they started coming back on Saturday night at Towson.
Talley: Yeah, I think that’s a byproduct of the older guys that we have in the program. You know we’ve been in a lot of big games, and you understand that the win over Towson was really fantastic but you’ve got so many hurdles left to overcome and you can get taken out in a heartbeat by any of the teams we have left on our schedule. I think that maturity level is very, very, very important to understand hey, it’s just another tough game.
Terry Toohey, Delco Times: Talk a little bit about Cameron McCurry. He seems to be a playmaker over there on defense for you.
Talley: He was our most outstanding player in the spring, and we really appreciate his growth. He and Joe Sarnese do a great job in the safety spots for us. He’s a real good tackler, he’s a smart guy. If you look at him, I took him and John Robertson into the press conference and neither of them shave. They’ve got these baby faces, I mean, they look like they should be choir boys (laughs) – both of them. But they can play with anyone when they put the pads on. I really like Cameron.
Moderator: Alright coach, that looks like it’ll do it for our time.