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Andy Talley press conference: Hard to compete with Bagnoli for the last time

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Injury troubles are a concern as the Wildcats prepare for Penn on Saturday.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Talley met with the media on Monday morning as part of the weekly CAA coaches teleconference and talked about how the Villanova Wildcats handled James Madison on Saturday and what it will be like facing Al Bagnoli one last time this week.

Talley wasn't sure how his Wildcats would look coming out of a bye weekend early in the season with an always-tough CAA challenge ahead of them. His team turned the ball over three times in the first half, which "caused our defense some problems," as they had to return to the field without an opportunity to catch their breath.

"Certainly, there was a lot of offense," he said, describing the game where both teams staged some long offensive drives down the field. "Defensively, we were able to get two turnovers and put 35 points on the board in the second half."

"Robertson almost pitched a perfect game," the head coach stated with mixed-metaphors, referring to the CAA Offensive Player of the Week, John Robertson. He went 22-of-27 on the day (81.5%), completing his first 15 passes and could have connected on a much higher percentage if the 'Cats had held on to some of the dropped passes that plagued them.

The real concern coming out of the weekend for Talley, however, was that his team was banged up. Defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon will be out with a knee injury, and the coach added tailback Austin Medley to the injured-list during the call -- projecting that he'd be out at least a 4-5 games.

"He has a high ankle sprain on his one leg, and an old-fashioned regular ankle sprain on his other leg," Talley reported. The injury happened late in the game.

That will put more pressure on Robertson to run the ball. Talley noted that they held their quarterback off for most of the game, both because of his broken left hand, but also because of a hip-stinger he suffered early in the first half.

"He has to hold the ball in his right hand, so the ball is always exposed," Talley explained, but getting him back on his feet in upcoming games will still be important. "He's your number-one running threat."

Robertson won't be without help in the running game, however. Even with Medley sidelined, the Wildcats still have a resurgent Kevin Monangai who rushed for a team-high 119 yards against JMU, including a 61-yard scoring play. Monangai showed up heavier last summer, and his bulking up has led to him adjusting his running style -- less lateral movement and more emphasis on strength and downhill speed.

"When he hits the hole full-speed, he has some breakaway speed," Talley noted.

Gary Underwood will be expected to take more snaps now, moving up the depth chart with Medley out. Underwood has played well so far this season, and has shown a great ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as carry the rock. The injury will also potentially benefit true-freshman Matt Gudzak, who reeled off a long touchdown run late in the game against Fordham.

"We have a true freshman named Matt Gudzak, who I think can come in and help us."

As for playing at Penn on Saturday, Talley noted that the Quakers have often been a good game for his team under retiring head coach Al Bagnoli. 2014 will be the last football season for Bagnoli, who has won 144 games at Penn since 1992 and nine Ivy League championships, as he announced his retirement this Summer. He also owns 230 total NCAA football wins, and is the only NCAA football coach to break the 200-win barrier without ever being involved in a tie game.

"It has been a really good game for both of us," Talley stated. Bagnoli is, "one of the greats to coach in the Ivy League.

"It will be hard to compete with him for the last time," he added. "He's a tribute to college football and a lot of people can learn from Al Bagnoli."