The Villanova Wildcats earned some serious street cred yesterday with a 50-6 dismantling of the Fordham Rams. It might be too early to say whether Fordham may have been overrated, but a 44-point home win over a fellow top 10 team is something that is going to put the CAA, and likely the rest of the country, on notice.
There was a lot of cheer about, and even Mother Nature couldn't slow this train down. Let's get to it.
Billy Crocker & the 'Nova Defense - Having not been able to watch the game, I was restricted to Brian and the rest of Twitter's commentary. And I'm not sure it'd be fair to point to any one player (though Don Cherry's 3 sacks certainly stand out). It was truly a team effort. Most of us figured this might turn in to an offensive shootout, but the Wildcats' defense was silly good. Michael Nebrich looked ordinary, completing his passes at just a 50% rate and getting picked off twice. The scariest part - the Rams carried the ball 27 times for 18 yards. Read that again. This defense is really friggan good. The game ball goes to these guys, without a doubt.
John Robertson - Quite simply, it's starting to feel like a certainty that Robertson is going to be dominant week-in and week-out. With Fordham daring Robertson to beat them through the air, he happily obliged with 216 yards (17-24) passing and 3 touchdowns. He 'only' recorded 61 yards rushing, but still added a touchdown. Just because.
Poppy Livers - There was a scary moment in the first half where Livers went down on a diving attempt in the end zone and appeared to hurt himself, but he was able to return after the weather delay and continue his strong play from the opening week. His 8 receptions for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns led the way. His story, while well-documented, is just incredible. I'm happy for all these guys, but especially for Poppy.
Austin Calitro - With such a deep and talented linebacker corps., it wasn't a huge surprise to see the Connecticut-native move over the the defensive line. After yesterday's highlight reel play, Joe Trainer must be licking his chops at Calitro's potential. Calitro read a swing pass perfectly, and effortlessly cut off his pass rush to step in to the passing lane and take the interception 35 yards to the house to break the game open.
Gary Underwood - The former high school quarterback's versatility has been a teasing prospect for a couple seasons, and we're finally starting to see the talent come in to the spotlight. 8 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown, plus a massive kickoff return to set up another touchdown drive. The more weapons Sam Venuto and John Robertson have, the better.
Matt Gudzak - The freshman running back made the most of his late-game chance, romping 61 yards for a touchdown. Rumble young man, rumble.
Steve Weyler - Let's just say the kicking game is still a major concern. Weyler missed his 35-yard attempt, spoiling great field position to open the game. Things only got worse though, as he missed not one, but two PATs. Chris Gough came in to relieve Weyler, and restored some confidence by nailing a 42-yard field goal and all of his PATs. It'd be a major shock if Gough didn't reclaim the starting job next week, but Andy Talley can't keep switching back and forth. One of these guys needs to step up.