Villanova fell to 0-1 on the season with a 20-15 road loss to Connecticut last night. That feels more frustrating than it really is because the bookmakers had the Wildcats as nearly a touchdown favorite. But the differences in depth at the FBS and FCS levels shone through as the game wore on, and the Huskies held on for a win in front of the home fans.
Here are 3 lessons we learned last night about the 2015 Villanova football team.
John Robertson may not be running as much this year
Yes, he led the team in both carries (18) and yards (66), but there was a noticeable drop in designed running plays for the QB, and on several occasions Robertson rolled out of the pocket and opted to get rid of the ball (a good decision) instead of taking off upfield and trying to make something happen.
Robertson will get his fair share of carries, and his number will definitely be called on short do-or-die downs, but after last season's concussion it looks like Talley may opt to lean more on Robertson's arm than in years past. The might be okay, but he's going to need some help. Speaking of that...
The offensive supporting cast has a ways to go
Andy Talley wasn't really mincing words when he questioned every area of his offense sans-Robertson. Gary Underwood's status will be the hot topic all week. He looked good before he left with a chest injury and there's been no word yet on how bad it is. Javon White and Matt Gudzak both looked good in reserve, but didn't get their number called as much.
As the field got tighter, Villanova's ability to pass dipped. Kevin Gulyas was a breakout star a year ago when he had Poppy Livers next to him, but he may find it tougher to get open downfield this year. Taurus Phillips and Aaron Wells both looked okay in the slot, but there were obvious gaps in the roles vacated by Mike Burke (injured) and Earnest Pettway (graduated). Alex Padovani and the triumverate of Doug Turrell, Ryan Bell and Ryan Morris will need to step up. And where was Lincoln Collins?
Finally, the offensive line wasn't great, and Jake Prus leaving for 3 weeks isn't going to help. Time will tell if the unit struggled with a very good Husky defensive line, or if there's more work to be done.
The defense may very well carry this team
Maybe he was nervous in front of the hometown fans, but Don Cherry noticeably had a pretty rough game. He'll be fine, so don't worry about that. The defense as a whole understandably wore down as the game went on but looked excellent for the majority of the night.
Tanoh Kpassagnon was unblockable and manhandled whoever the Huskies through at him. Eric Drains and Ricky Young did their job in the middle to hold UConn to just 105 yards on 39 carries (2.7 ypc). The linebackers should start to shine in the coming weeks as that DL gels more.
Most encouraging was the secondary, who save for a blown coverage on a 69-yard completion and some missed tackles on both touchdown passes, looked very strong. Having Trey Johnson back helped a ton and Cameron McCurry and Matt McCann made some big plays. Shutting down a very good WR in Noel Thomas is something to be proud of.
Until the offense develops some playmakers, the defense is going to need to hold opponents d