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Andy Talley press conference: Villanova football cautiously optimistic preparing for UConn

The Wildcats have had an up-and-down preseason, but Talley is ready to play.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Talley met with the media on Monday morning to discuss his team's preparation for their upcoming season opening game vs. the Connecticut Huskies on Thursday night. According the Wildcats' head coach, it's been somewhat of an up-and-down preseason.

"It's been a rocky preseason, some of the kids we felt would be valuable players are nicked up, " said Talley. "I'm hoping we can come out of this tailspin. Jake Prus has been called to donate for the bone marrow program. It's a blessing, but we lose a starting offensive tackle after the first game for 3 weeks. It's one of those preseasons that you're like wow, this has not been good for us. "

And despite his team's lofty ranking, Talley maintained that they have a lot to prove on the field.

"I think with 2 All-Americans, we've been a little overrated, " said the coach. "It's something we aspire to, but I'm not sure we have that kind of firepower. Defensively, I think we're going to be better. The kicking game is still a concern. We have a lot of things to clear up before we play. I think the only way to know is to get in a game and see how we do."

The defense in particular returns 9 starters, including All-American middle linebacker Don Cherry. While they were stout against the run last season, an FBS opponent always presents a challenge physically.

I think we're going to have to hang our hat on the defense, " said Talley. "With 9 starters back we'll be better, and we're faster. I'm concerned with how we hold up on the run, and I think UConn will test that early. I think the kids will rally around Robertson and we have some really good talent at running back and our wide receivers are okay. We have a really good game plan coming in. Hopefully we can execute it and stay away from turnovers."

Despite the preseason struggles, Talley is excited to be heading in to a new season. UConn in particular will bring back some memories from years past.

We had some great games with Connecticut over the years, and the longest game in 1-AA was a 6OT game which Villanova won, " recalled Talley. "Last time we were at UConn we won in 3OT. The games have been very competitive. I started out at Simsbury and have a lot of friends and colleagues still there, it's a bit of a homecoming for me."

The call ended with a couple of prank calls asking asking about the manhood of John Robertson and Don Cherry, but Talley shook it off with a laugh before discussing a heated topic - Villanova's failed move to the FBS.

"I think we could have used UConn as a model, " stated Talley. "They started out building great facilities. The stadium is phenomenal. We're getting a football operations building. The stadium is what limited us. We couldn't really find a place to play. UConn had state money and all the people interested in football. They did it right."