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Andy Talley press conference: "No-name defense has been superb"

Poppy Livers also drew praise, while John Robertson will wear a cast on Saturday.

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Andy Talley met with the media on Monday morning as part of the weekly CAA coaches teleconference and talked about what the Villanova Wildcats have worked on during the bye week, and how they plan to attack the James Madison Dukes this weekend.

In years past, Talley has seen his team suffer some serious injuries in the opening weeks of the season, but with a (mostly) clean bill of health and some great play in September, Talley wasn't exactly thrilled with the early bye week in 2014.

"We're just trying to reinforce the fundamentals and take a little bit of a look at James Madison and prepared sort of a preliminary deal on offense and deal. We worked on our special teams. Just trying to balance up a little bit and hope that you can continue the momentum. It's really a difficult task when you have an open date this early."

John Robertson broke a bond in his hand against Fordham, so the bye week came at a nice time for the star quarterback. Talley said he's progressing, but he will definitely be in a soft cast on Saturday. The head coach said he didn't anticipate any issues, unless rain was in the forecast.

Talley does plan to protect Robertson a bit more than usual, and referenced his stable of running backs as an ideal way to attack the Dukes on the ground while minimizing the risk of injuring Robertson further.

"We have three running backs that we really like, and I really can't tell a difference, " said Talley. "Austin Medley is healthy, he's great 1-2 punch with Kevin (Monangai). Gary Underwood has done a great job, too. If you asked who's 1, 2 and 3, they're all even. We're fortunate to have 3 guys that can run and catch the football. I haven't had this much depth in a long time."

Talley praised the James Madison defense as one of the most athletic in the conference, but confirmed that he wasn't going to go out there and "wing the ball all over the place," instead sticking with the ground-and-pound approach that has been so successful the last few years.

Talley also heaped praise on his "no-name" defense, but expects a new challenge when the 'Cats take on Georgia Tech transfer Vad Lee this weekend.

"I watched the Lehigh game. He presents the same problems that John (Robertson) does, "said Talley. "You have to really take care of his responsibility as a runner first. He's faster than most defenses, and that's the problem. It's a problem any time you go up against a guy that can run and throw."

Talley finished by heaping praise on senior WR Poppy Livers, who he mistakenly thought had maxed out as a football player last season. Livers has continued to prove the doubters wrong, becoming one of the best slot receivers in college football, and a guy that Talley claimed defenses must account on every snap because of his playmaking ability.