The common thread of Andy Talley's post-game statements through much of the 2011 season was that the 'Cats needed more from the quarterback position. He used three different players at that position over the course of the season, switching starters every few games. Finally, he seemed to settle on true-freshman Chris Polony for the homestretch, and Polony turned in a couple of promising performances. He would be just under 200 yards passing in two of the last three games, and threw 6 touchdown passes in those games.
Against Delaware, however, Polony struggled, passing for only 139 yards, no touchdowns and 2 interceptions -- one of which effectively ended the game in the 4th quarter.
So in Spring practice and again in pre-season, the job appears to be wide open for the 'Cats, who will see three players (two with starting experience this season) battle for the job; Polony, Dustin Thomas and redshirt John Robertson. According to some reports, however, there may be a fourth option.
Villanova has reportedly emerged as an option for UVa quarterback Michael Strauss, who is planning to transfer to an FCS school in search of playing time. Strauss was a redshirt freshman this season with 3 years of eligibility left if he transfers to an FCS school. He has good accuracy and is comfortable working out of a spread offense, but falls short of being the true dual-threat that Villanova has preferred to employ in recent years.
Then again, the scouting report on Chris Polony reads about the same on his running skill, but he managed to exploit a few defensive holes to move the ball with his legs this season.
Strauss was the first player signed by former Richmond coach Mike London at UVa, but has not been able to earn playing time at the school and saw the writing on the wall with two more recruits committing at his position for next season. His opportunity to start at the ACC school would be limited. He will reportedly also consider Penn and Delaware.
Villanova's transfer policy has made it difficult for the football program to "reload" on an annual basis like other FCS powers do. Rarely can the Cats get any transfer players in and when they do, they are few (rarely more than one in a year) and are required to be academically-strong students. Strauss, as a candidate to join Penn, would likely meet the academic standards of the admissions office.
Villanova's administration is re-emphasizing football in hopes that doing so can keep the athletics department among the elite in the nation. That plan would be helped tremendously if the team can bounce-back from a 2-win season next year. Bringing in a transfer quarterback (or at other positions of need) could leave less to chance in that pursuit.
What about the current crop of quarterbacks? If Strauss were to come to the Main Line, Villanova would have three quarterbacks (all three-star recruits out of high school) in the sophomore class and one more as a redshirt freshman. That means that one or more of them could be shown the door after Spring practice.
Villanova football hasn't shied away from removing a problem child from the program in the past, but if one of the current crop of quarterbacks were asked to leave for football reasons, it would be a big departure from the program's general policy of developing players.
Of course, the coaching staff could also try to convert one or more of the quarterbacks to another position. John Robertson has already been used in practices as as a wildcat quarterback and with his speed and running ability could perhaps move to receiver or defensive back. Polony could perhaps move to Tight End with some work in the weight room.
Is this news the sign of a policy shift for Villanova football? So far, with only one academically-talented football player rumored to be on the transfer radar, it doesn't appear to be much of a change. If further transfer targets emerge, however, the Wildcats may be changing direction on the gridiron.