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Bye Week Blues: What Villanova Football needs to fix on the week off

It's hard to find fault with a team that took an FBS opponent to two overtimes and walloped Fordham last week, but we will...

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

This is the only weekend of the Fall season where Villanova's Wildcats won't set foot on the gridiron donning their blue and white. This was the only week they will have to sew up any holes in their game as well. While they looked rather impressive in weeks one and two, perfection is something rarely achieved in sports.

So, it's time to nitpick.

"We're still trying to get our kicking game together," Talley said during a press conference. The Wildcats tried freshman Steve Weyler early in the game, but the young kicker wasn't ready yet. Chris Gough came back to make all of his extra points and a long field goal, so the coach wants to, "see if we can get more consistent," during the break.

That "lets see" approach is about all you can do in a week off. Kicking is a skill that takes time to develop, and while both Weyler and Gough have executed on kicks in the past, they won't get significantly better at the technical/mechanical aspects of it in a week. What can improve is their comfort level and confidence with executing on kicks from any distance.

So, the 'Cats need Gough to put in work with his longsnapper and holder -- and Weyler too -- to kick from various distances, spots between the hash marks and get comfortable. They need to make it routine, something they don't even need to think about.

The Wildcats will be looking for Gough to return from the break with more consistency, ready to nail the routine field goals and extra points the rest of the way.

Special teams has other issues too, however. Late in the Fordham game, kickoff coverage allowed the Rams return man to slice-and-dice through their coverage and get to the endzone. The play was called back due to a hold early in the return, but the second, and third, lines of defense on kickoffs also need to be able to make a tackle.

The kickoff team wasn't allowing huge returns all game, so the adjustment is likely something that can be made in practice over a bye-week.

A good way to think about these type of special teams plays is in the context of a "string." As former Wildcats' special teams coach Roc Bellantoni described for us, the kick returner has an imaginary "string" between himself and the return man, the coverage team's job is to break that string -- getting between the blocker and the return man, however they need to. Once the blocker has engaged a man on the cover team, it is too late. If every blocker successfully engages their cover man, the returner has just one defender to elude to go all the way.

Defensively, things have looked good so far. Fordham did some damage yardage-wise in the passing game, but they weren't able to get anything consistent going all afternoon. If any changes need to be made, it would be for the defense to try and lock down receivers a little better, but even that is a luxury, as the current coverage schemes do a good job of limiting damage and creating big turnover plays.

The Offense, meanwhile, has looked absolutely brilliant over two games. John Robertson's broken hand, however, is a concern and much of their planning and game-preparation over the bye week should revolve around scheming to avoid causing further damage when he takes the field against James Madison.

In sports, there is always room for improvement. This bye week is another opportunity for the Wildcats to take a step back and look at themselves to fine-tune their game plans and preparation for next weekend.