Mark Ferrante may be in his first year as the head coach of the Villanova Wildcats football program, but he stressed continuity and consistency during his first weekly call with the press on Monday morning.
“I think they are super excited to get started again with as many people as we have coming back to try to strive for that consistency across the board for four quarters in every game.”
Ferrante will take over a team that boasted the best defense in the country a year ago, and returns starters all over the field. They’re rightfully ranked in the Top-10 entering this season and will be expected to challenge for both the CAA and National Championships.
While the defense is once again expected to be the backbone of the team - led by All-American safety Rob Rolle - Ferrante needs his offense show up on a more consistent basis this year.
That falls primarily on quarterback Zach Bednarczyk. While Ferrante needs to replace some starters on the offensive line, expectations will raised for a high-powered offense given the amount of weapons at Bednarczyk’s disposal.
“We have Taurus Phillips and Jarrett McClenton coming back as well along with Aaron Forbes and Matt Gudzak in the backfield so I am not sure there is anybody there that is going to surprise anybody because they have all played significant snaps...”
As the Wildcats prepare for their trip to Lehigh this weekend, Ferrante took a page out of Andy Talley’s book and heaped praise on the Mountain Hawks.
Ferrante cited Lehigh’s returning talent on the offensive side of the ball in his assessment. Despite playing in the Patriot League, Lehigh is a team that can put up points in a hurry and is bringing back their star players as well.
“The key is going to be to try to slow down that explosive offense that they have. They have all of their top play-makers back. They are Top 10 in just about every offensive category that I looked up from a year ago.”
While the Mountain Hawks do pose a threat on offense, Villanova will feel confident in what they’re returning on defense. The Wildcats are replacing just 4 starters - though 2 of those are now playing in the NFL (Tanoh Kpassagnon and Austin Calitro).
Rob Rolle will be joined by Malik Reaves, Trey Johnson and Rasaan Stewart to form a deep and talented secondary, and leading tacklers Ed Shockley and Jeff Steeb are back to man the linebacker spots.
Defensive line has the biggest holes to fill, but Bryan White and Ricky Young are back in the middle, and Jafonta Johnson and Aaron Seigle have reps under their belt. Expect the Wiley brothers - Jeff at defensive end and Drew at linebacker - to make an impact as well.
With less than a week to go until GameDay, Ferrante is excited to get going. He knows that his team needs to play with more consistency if they’re going to reach the heights they’re capable of, and it all starts with a tough opponent in week 1.
“That has been the theme – to go out there and play consistently and finish the game. Hopefully we can do that. I know they have a lot of guys back on defense as well up there at Lehigh. It should be a fairly closely contested game with our strengths matching up against each other – meaning, their experienced wide receivers to our experienced secondary.”