Villanova wasn't expected to win the Temple game last night. Not against Steve Addazio's Owls, who have institutional support from the university and plenty of momentum heading into the Big East. Even in an uphill battle, though, the Wildcats expected a certain level of production from the quarterback spot — production that they didn't get from Chris Polony.
They did get production from back-up quarterback John Robertson though, and that raised some questions about where the Wildcats will go from here.
"We have to look at that now," head coach Andy Talley said of his quarterback situation. "You can certainly see that [Robertson] is gifted at running the ball. He does not see as much in the passing game as Chris [Polony] does. So we will start to look at it. I don't like to play two [quarterbacks], I really don't. Like I said we were pretty sett on Chris but some things didn't happen to him today, he was pressured a lot, so we went with John.
"So we will evaluate it this week."
Starter Chris Polony, didn't have much time in the pocket to work and as a result he seemed to develop Norm White tunnel vision instead of looking for his second and third option on plays. He completed just 2-of-7 passes for 18 yards and an interception in the game. When he felt hurried, he tried to make plays with his feet, but his speed wasn't enough to break away from Temple, allowing him to gain just an average of 1.2 yards in his 5 attempts.
Robertson came in in the first quarter to run some plays out of the wildcat package, which lead to the 'Cats hitting a field goal. He came back into the game with three minutes left in the first half and promptly drove the offense down the field and ran the ball in for the 'Cats only touchdown.
Polony never came back off of the sideline.
Robertson completed 53% of his passes (9-of-17) for 135 yards and ran 15 times for a gain of 107 yards and a touchdown. He did not throw an interception, but he was sacked three times. Passes were completed to five receivers not named Norman White in the second half (and at least one completed to White as well).
Now the Wildcats go into the Fordham game with a question about their identity.
Are they going to be a pocket passing team? In which case, Polony is the guy the an arm that can make all of the passes, but he will need to improve his reads and maybe accuracy. The offensive line will also have to buy him more time to work.
They could also go back to their roots as a running team. In that case, Robertson is the quarterback going forward. Having a quarterback that can make plays with his feet will only help the Wildcats to establish their attack. Robertson can still make some throws, but he isn't the guy to bomb the ball downfield so much as he will take advantage of shorter routes.
Robertson is fast though, that is for sure, and taking snaps in the second half, he was able to advance the ball with his feet more often than not against a Temple defense that had plenty of speed itself.
Villanova hasn't started a true pocket passer since Frank Jankowski's ill-fated stint under-center in 2005. Both before and after that, the Villanova offense has generally been headed up by a dual-threat, which makes Robertson and intriguing option going forward, but his passing will have to improve.
Robertson needs to find open receivers and will need to be able to get the ball to fifth-year senior Norman White, who is looking for a showcase season before trying his hand in the NFL draft this spring. If Robertson can get him the ball, and make plays with his feet, the coaching staff will be hard-pressed to go in a different direction.