Christian Culicerto's career as a Villanova starter was always going to be short-lived. The senior walk-on earned the job after an injury to Dustin Thomas sidelined the redshirt freshman and Chris Polony, a true freshman, was not ready for the speed of the game. Culicerto will be starting his third straight game against New Hampshire this weekend.
He is 1-1 in his two starts so far, with a win against Pennsylvania and a loss last week against William & Mary. In his two starts, he threw for 138 and 132 yards, respectively, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Thomas wasn't dramatically better in his two starts (though only one full game), but he is viewed as the future of the program, and even last season, he was given as many repetitions in practice as possible, while Culicerto was not given many in prior seasons.
"Dustin has one more year in the program as far as actual practicing, and he brings a little more savvy to the table as well," Andy Talley told SuperNova. "What we have in Dustin is a guy with a stronger arm, and he's fast. When things break down, he can take off and make some big plays with his feet."
Thomas, who was suffering from a separated shoulder, finally got out of his arm sling last Friday and has been able to return to practice. He won't be ready for Saturday's game at New Hampshire, and the training staff isn't expecting him to be ready for the team's road trip to James Madison the week after.
"I was hoping he'd be ready for James Madison," Talley said. "But right now, it looks like it'll be the Old Dominion game."
The Old Dominion game on October 22nd will be Villanova's homecoming game, a showcase event for thousands of visiting alumni — or at least for the ones who make it inside the game. Old Dominion is off to a fast start, getting out to a 4-1 record with a conference loss to Delaware and a win over UMass, following up two winning seasons at the start of program history.
Villanova may need a big performance from it's quarterback to win then.
Ijalana Injured — Season Over?
Ben Ijalana got the chance of a lifetime. When starting Indianapolis Colts left tackle (and Boston College grad) Anthony Castonzo was carted off the field during Monday Night Football, Ijalana was given his first taste of the NFL on it's biggest stage.
According to the Indianapolis Star, however, the second-round pick out of Villanova was also banged up in the game. Their source claims that he damaged the ACL in his left knee during the fourth quarter, an injury that could see his rookie season ended prematurely. Update (noon): Adam Schefter of ESPN now reports that Ijalana has been placed on injured reserve, ending his season.
The extent of the injury and it's effect on his playing time has not been confirmed by the Colts organization.
(h/t Fact on Villanova Sports)
Depth Chart Alterations
Ross Hall redshirted as a freshman, but the big kid was expected to start this season on a depleted offensive line. Before the opener, however, he was sidelined with a shoulder injury that forced the coaching staff to start true-freshman, Kyle Wallace at left guard.
Hall is feeling much better now and according to coach Talley, he will replace Wallace in the starting offense. That move gives the 'Cats a bit more size at left guard (Hall is close to 300 pounds), and a year more experience.
Talley also plans to swap Morgan Craig and Earnest Pettway on the depth chart at tight end. Rated either two or three stars by recruiting services, Craig was one of the better prospects signed last spring. Pettway is a former two-sport athlete from California who the coaching staff thinks will provide a little more as a receiver for the 'Cats.
Marlon Johnson should also be back at defensive end this week after suffering with a knee injury.