Coming off the thrilling, yet heartbreaking 27-26 loss to the Syracuse Orange in the Carrier Dome on Friday night, Andy Talley met with the media on Monday morning as part of the CAA Football weekly coaches teleconference. With multiple CAA teams facing FBS opposition in week 1, several coaches weighed in on the talent disparity between the two sub-divisions.
Rhode Island head coach Jim Fleming, speaking right before Talley, made it clear that he feels the gap is closing, and that FCS teams can easily compete with their big brothers in the FBS. Andy Talley took a firm stance, disagreeing with that notion - in the process heaping praise on his team for their performance.
"Look, there's a big difference - 22 additional scholarships at that level, so they're playing 50 guys in a game and we're playing 30," said Talley. "We were fortunate to play extremely well, and also play a rebuilding team in Syracuse. We dominated time of possession and all the other stats, but if that's LSU or somebody else, it's a completely different story."
Special teams played a huge factor in the outcome, with Poppy Livers returning a punt for a touchdown while Chris Gough missed multiple field goals. As expected, Talley defended his decision to go for the win in double overtime.
"At that point, we were just gassed having given so much effort. We had managed to stay healthy - last season we lost 3 starters vs. Boston College," Talley said. "And with some of the things that had happened in the kicking game I didn't want this going to a third overtime. Obviously it's a horrendous loss, coming so close to putting your program on the map and gaining some huge momentum this early in the year. We need to find a way to keep the spirit high."
Despite the clear pain that Talley suffered coming so close to a marquee win, it was evident that he's over the moon for the prospects of his team the rest of the way - particularly with quarterback John Robertson leading the way.
As as been the case throughout his career, Talley knows he needs to find a way to rally his troops. With nationally-ranked Fordham coming to town on Saturday, there's no time to dwell on what could have been.
"They (Fordham) are a good team, I think they're ranked higher than us right now. Their quarterback is a UCONN-transfer, and he can run and throw," said Talley. "Obviously they beat us last year - I think we turned it over five times. So hopefully we'll be motivated to come out and perform better at home."
Traditionally Talley has not relied on motivational gimmicks to get his team up for a game, but with so many returning players from the team that narrowly lost to Fordham last year, the revenge factor could be just what this team needs to ride the emotional wave from the opening week in to a massive out-of-conference game.
Quotes and Tweets
- "We dominated the game in terms of possession time and yardage."
- "You have to have a good team [to beat an FCS opponent]; we have a good team..."
- "The punt return was really all Poppy," he slipped past the first three guys, and then the field is a lot more open.
- Mistakes made in the kicking game "were due to the speed," of the game that Villanova wasn't ready for early on. "You have to play hard and take some chances" against FBS teams. Trying to block a punt early against Syracuse was a mistake that hurt them.
- Against Fordham it will be, "Important for us to corral their quarterback," who did a lot of damage for them last season. "Keeping him contained is a difficult assignment."
Villanova football coach Andy Talley says it's unrealistic to think gap is closing between FBS and #FCS. FCS was 2-44 in Week 1 meettings.— Craig Haley (@CraigHaley) September 1, 2014
I'm big on Villanova in #CAAFB this year. IMO they've got the best player (Robertson) & best coach (Andy Talley). Towson lost too much— Joe Suhoski (@VaBeachRep) September 1, 2014