Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Villanova Football 2011 Preview Part Five: Secondary

This is part five of a multiple part season preview. Each one will focus on a different position group, and it will all wrap up with a preview of the game against Pennsylvania Government Waste (Temple) a day or two before the game.

Despite losing three very good players in John Dempsey, Martel Moody and Fred Maldonado to graduation, the defensive backfield looks to be one of the strengths of the 2011 Villanova football team.

Cornerback: Now beginning his third full season as a starter, senior captain James Pitts has little left to prove on the field. Pitts is by far the best returning player in the secondary. His superlative ball skills combined with his competence in run support have made him invaluable to the deep playoff runs of the last three seasons. Now if they would only let him play man coverage once in a while..

Sophomore Craig James will start at the other corner position. James mostly played on special teams last season, so what he brings to the table is largely a mystery to everyone except the coaches. One would hope that he's at least competent.

Backing up both Pitts and James and cornerback will be Leighton Dennis, a sophomore who saw spot duty last season

Safety: The starter at free safety will be junior Ronnie Akins. After playing strictly on special teams as a freshman in '09, Akins was given an opportunity to start last season, but wound up being overtaken by Martel Moody. With little or no experience on the depth chart, expect to see Akins hold on to his starting job.

At the weak safety position will be junior Eric Loper, a converted cornerback. I don't know the rationale behind switching Loper to safety, but cornerbacks aren't nearly as easy to come by as safeties, and unless Loper struggled in coverage last season, there seems to be little to no reason to make this move.

At strong safety will be redshirt freshman Shane Harris. A high school teammate of James Pitts at Montclair High School in New Jersey, Harris is a great unknown, but nothing I saw in practice gave me too much cause for concern.

This group could be the difference between a five win team and a nine win team. We'll have to wait and see.

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 2 is For Murle Sango

Wide Receiver- 1997-2001

I could have taken the easy route and chosen a Villanova player who played more recently like Darrel Young, or Fred Maldonado, but I decided to pick Murle Sango, a diminutive wide receiver from El Toro, California who is the best player on this list that nobody seems to mention (he also has one of the great names in Villanova history).  There is a simple explation for his lack of historical recognition:  he was in the same recruiting class as Brian Westbrook.

Sango's 98 receptions in 1999 (the year that Brian Westbrook blew out his knee) are a Villanova single season record, and his 236 career receptions are second in school history to Brian Finneran.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 3 is For Brandyn Harvey

Wide Receiver- 2005-2009

A big, talented wide receiver who flashed early on in his career, but really came on in his senior season.  Starting with a huge game against Temple in week one, Brandyn Harvey wound up having one of the finer seasons by a wide receiver in Villanova history in 2009.  While he didn't put up Brian Finneran like numbers, he did something that even Matt Szczur was never able to do, lead Villanova in receiving yards in a season.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 4 is For Matt Szczur

Wide Receiver, Running Back, Quarterback, Kick Returner, Messiah: 2007-2010

Prior to recently, when you would name the greatest players in Villanova history, names like Billy Joe, Al Atkinson, Mike Siani, Howie Long, Brian Finneran, Chris Boden, Brian Westbrook, Brett Gordon, and Raymond Ventrone would come up, but Matt Szczur did something that none of the previous players was able to do- lead The Wildcats to a National Championship.  Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 38th round out of Lower Cape May High School, and with several high level scholarship offers to play baseball under his belt, the fact that Matt Szczur came to Villanova in the first place is a bit of a blessing. 

Boy am I glad that he did come to Villanova.  In four years on the Main Line, Szczur finished his career with a stat line that doesn't adequately describe his true value to his team.  As far as I know, he holds few Villanova records, and he isn't even in the top ten in career receiving yards at the school.  One thing I do know about Matt Szczur: he is the single most versatile athlete that Villanova has ever had. 

One more time: All Hail Szczur!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 5 is For Antwon Young

Quarterback- 2005-2009

After seeing him start and play well at Maryland in 2007, I was convinced that Antwon Young was going to be a stud three year starter for Villanova.  A few weeks later against William & Mary, everything was thrown out the window.  In that game, Young suffered an ACL tear, Chris Whitney and the rest is history.  Young was still able to make an impact, including replacing an ineffective Whitney in a game against Penn in 2009, and a ridiculous 82 yard touchdown run against Towson in that same year.

Career Highlights:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Villanova Football 2011 Preview Part Four: Linebacker

Devon Bridges

On paper, the Villanova linebackers are by far the most decimated position group on the entire team. The top four players from last season, Terence Thomas, Marquis Kirkland, Anthony Johnson and Jacob Wade all graduated, leaving very little experience to be had amongst the returning players. That's not to say that there isn't talent amongst the players on the team now, because that's not true, but the linebackers in this scheme must be incredibly stout against the run due to the fact that there are five defensive backs on the field at all times, and they also must be able to cover and blitz with near equal proficiency. With a true freshman starttin in the middle, flanked by two players who have been in the program for at least two seasons, that should ease the adjustment, but it will still definitely be a transition.

Middle Linebacker: Based on what I saw from attending two practices, the starter at the MIKE linebacker is going to be true freshman Dillon Lucas. I never saw the first team defense take the field without Lucas playing in the middle. Lucas was a tackling machine in his four seasons at Shawnee High School in South Jersey, finishing as the school's all time leading tackler. He also demonstrated his toughness by playing through much of his senior season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. As someone with a brother who has torn his labrum twice, I should note that labrum tears have a tendency to reoccur, so it's something to keep a watch on.

Lining up with the second team the two days I was there was redshirt freshman Emeka Ndiche. The book on Ndiche is that he's apparently a very good athlete, but a bit smallish to play in the middle. We'll just have to wait and see.

Outside Linebacker: While he was originally slated to start in the middle, junior Devon Bridges appears to have moved to the outside with the emergence of Dillon Lucas. Bridges is the only returning linebacker to have played in every game last season, but almost all of that playing time was on special teams, where he should still have a very active role this season as he was particularly good there over the past two  seasons.

The presumptive starter at the other outside linebacker spot is senior Jeremy Rodriguez.  In his previous three seasons on the Main Line, Rodriguez has never been fully healthy, but when he has played, especially on special teams he has been quite effective. Despite only playing in seven games last season, Rodriguez is the leading returning tackling amongst the linebackers. Still though, his health will have to be monitored and it seems unlikely that he will play a full slate without getting injured.

The top backup at outside linebacker looks to be junior Patrick Haggerty, who was named the most improved defensive player after spring practice. Haggerty looked to have earned a starting spot until Dillon Lucas came along and pushed Devon Bridges over to the outside. Other reserves at the position who will push for playing time include junior Delano Ferguson, and redshirt freshman Tyrone Armstrong once (if?) he gets healthy.

So you should be able to see that while this group lacks starting experience in the base defense, it does not lack promise. Constant improvement is the most important thing to look for throughout the length of the season.

Villanova Footbal Season Countdown: 6 is For Ronnie Akins

Safety- 2009-Present

If I was asked to identify a breakout candidate on the Villanova defense in 2011, I would pick Ronnie Akins because he has all of the requisite tools to be a stud at safety.

After establishing himself as a special teams stud in 2009 when he was a true freshman, Ronnie Akins played a more established role on defense in 2010, playing in all 14 games and finishing the season with 54 tackles, four tackles for loss, and two interceptions.  As the lone returning safety with starting experience on the Villanova roster, expect Akins to take a leadership role on the defensive unit. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Villanova Football 2011 Preview Part Three: Defensive Line

Antoine Lewis
This is part three of a multiple part season preview. Each one will focus on a different position group, and it will all wrap up with a preview of the game against Pennsylvania Government Waste (Temple) a day or two before the game.

The defensive group on the Villanova roster that returns the most is the defensive line. Two of the three starters from last season return, as does an opening day starter from last season who returns from a knee injury. For Villanova to compete next season, they will have to be solid on the defensive front, and with an inexperienced linebacker corps, the defensive line will need to get to take increased initiative to get after the ball. In the offseason, former Maryland line coach Dave Sollazzo was hired to coach the position, so there's another added dimension of change to a team in transition. While the starters are mostly back, this is still a position where the depth is very young (for the most part).

Defensive End: The starters at defensive at defensive end are firmly entrenched, and both have a full year of starting experience under their belts. Junior Marlon Johnson started the entire 2009 at defensive end and one game the next season, the opening game of the season in 2010, a game where he blew out his knee. Johnson has good size and the athleticism to drop back in coverage, but his pass rushing skills never really showed. It should be noted that he was a starter on the stingiest run defense in school history, so there is that. Starting at the other defensive end position should be sophomore Rakim Cox, who started 13 games a season ago. Cox is big and athletic, and definitely looks the part and he should improve on a solid, but not great performance his freshman year. It would be nice if he can build on his previous season and pair up with Johnson to get after the quarterback.

The primary backup to both defensive end spots will be sophomore Keelan Malone. In a bit role last season, Malone was decent. I wouldn't expect the starters to leave the field very often, and Malone may only get regular playing time in sub packages or in the case of injury. Behind Malone is a bunch of guys you probably don't want to see including true freshman including Jordan Hunter and Reggie Paris.

Nose Tackle: A revelation last season as a true freshman, Antoine Lewis will begin his sophomore season at nose tackle after starting all but one game last season at defensive end. This should be a good fit for Lewis as nose is his natural position. I suppose in a real pinch, he could move back to defensive end, but that's a scenario i do not want to think about.

Backing up Lewis will be a combination of junior Joe Makoid and freshman Pat Williams. Neither of them will see the field too much in the base defense unless there is a significant injury to another player on the line.


As you can see, this group could be quite good, but there is almost no room for injury. Luckily, there are only three defensive lineman in this scheme and not five, making an injury somewhat less likely

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 7 is For Dustin Thomas

Quarterback- 2010-Present

Much of the book on Dustin Thomas has yet to have been written.  The only certainty about him is that he has big shoes to fill.  I profiled Thomas back in March and I noted his obvious gifts and the fact that he has a huge leg up on the competition heading into fall practice.  When I went to a practice last summer, I thought that he looked quite athletic and threw a very nice ball, a sentiment that I was able to back up in my two trips to practice this season.

By all accounts, Thomas is faster and more elusive than Chris Whitney, and has a stronger arm so if he has the ball security and intangibles of Whitney, then he can be every bit the weapon. Thomas is in a unique position as he has an unimpeded opportunity to hold the starting spot at Villanova for a full four years, making him a prime candidate to break some records provided that he stays healthy. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

8/23 Villanova Football Practice Observations

This afternoon, I made another trip out to Villanova football practice. This was the final day of camp and the players were just wearing shoulder pads and helmets instead of full pads. Today was a better day, especially for the offensive line, but there were still some concerns.
  • Injury Report: Norman White still had a boot on and did not practice.. this could be a big problem. Also sidelined was Linebacker Tyrone Armstrong. Center Dan Shirey wasn't participating in contact drills. Austin Medley, Mikey Reynolds and Joe Price all spent time riding a bike on the sideline.
  • It seems like Jamal Abdur-Rahman is the starting kick returners. Ronnie Akins and Kevin Monangnai also took turns returning kicks.
  • Lawrence Doss has really strong looking legs.
  • Even though he's listed as a linebacker, true freshman Reggie Paris was working with the defensive linemen in practice.
  • Chris Polony has somewhat of a long windup. On the flipside, John Robertson gets rid of the ball very quickly, throws tight spirals and gets a surprising amount of zip on the ball.
  • The tight ends were having trouble catching the ball early on in the practices. It got better as the day went on.
  • Wide Receiver Corey Reeder beat tight coverage to make a great sideline grab on a dime from Dustin Thomas.
  • Josh Bucci was playing right guard today, and true freshman Vince Kowalski was playing right tackle. I don't really know what that's about.
  • Defensive Line coach Dave Sollazzo is incredibly intense. He's by far the most audible coach on the field. Andy Talley on the other hand is a quiet observer.
  • If I had to guess, Thomas and Robertson are the top two quarterbacks right now.
  • Clay Horne is my new favorite player to watch in practice. During live drills, he made a ridiculous one handed grab on a bullet from Dustin Thomas. He may have dropped the very next throw to him, but he still made the play of the practice in my opinion.
  • The offensive line today: Vogel, Wallace, Hall, Bucci, Kowalski.
That's it for today, and today was it for camp. There is very little time left until the Pennsylvania Government Waste (Temple) game.

Villanova Football 2011 Preview Part Two: Offensive Line

Dan Shirey
This is part two of a multiple part season preview. Each one will focus on a different position group, and it will all wrap up with a preview of the game against Pennsylvania Government Waste (Temple) a day or two before the game.

In one off-season, the offensive line has gone from Villanova's biggest strength, to its most glaring weakness. With the graduation and subsequent drafting of a four year starting left tackle, the graduation of a four year starter at left guard, and the injury to a projected starting tackle, this offensive line could be a complete mess, and based on what I saw in the practice i attended, it was startling clear that this line is not anywhere close to the standard of the past few seasons. Now it's time to take a look at an offensive line that looks as if it was strung together by MacGyver...

Center: The only returning starter on the Villanova offensive line who will not switch positions is junior center Dan Shirey. After breaking into the starting lineup at right guard early in his true freshman season, Shirey switched to center last season and was named third team All-CAA. Expectations are higher for him this season, as he was named preseason All-CAA first team. Shirey's health, and continued effective play is absolutely essential to this team, as he is the only player on the offensive line who has not experienced some sort of setting change from last year. As the most senior starter on the line, Shirey must be able to use his experience to take a leadership role and build this patchwork offensive line into a cohesive unit in which the whole is better than the sum of its parts.

Tackle: You do not replace a player like Ben Ijalana with an inexperience player it's simply not possible. Unfortunately, Villanova wil have to do exactly that after projected starting left tackle Chidozie Ekweozor blew out his knee during spring practice. So where does that leave Villanova at the most important position on the offensive line? Well, sophomore Josh Bucci will kick to right tackle, his natural position from right guard, where he saw the bulk of his playing time last season. Left tackle is a bit of a problem as there is a dearth of experience, and no clear incumbent. Based on what I saw last week, Billy Vogel, a junior transfer from Nebraska-Omaha has the inside edge at the position as he was taking most of the reps with the first team.

The battle for the reserve roles at tackle is where things get sketchy. The chief backup appears to be Donald Davis, a former defensive lineman. While Davis should be plenty athletic, he's undersized, (listed at 270 pounds, and maybe not even that much,) and he has never seen an offensive snap in his collegiate career. Another player who should vie for a reserve spot is Josh Polonio, a tree stump shaped redshirt freshman. In the Villanova media guide, Polonio is described as "a young player in need of experience," which sounds like code for "he's not ready to play right now," so hope it doesn't get to that. There are also some incoming freshmen who could battle for playing time at the position.

Guard: Like tackle, there are no incumbents at guard, because of Bucci's move to tackle, and the graduation of four year starter Brant Clouser, (who is currently in training camp with the New York Giants,) so it's very likely that both guard positions will be manned by freshmen. At left guard should be redshirt freshman Ross Hall, who is also the backup center. Hall was apparently impressive enough in preseason camp last season that he was making a serious push for playing time, but he hurt his foot and was granted a medical hardship and in turn missed the entire season. At right guard, true freshman Kyle Wallace looked to have the inside track when I visited practice. Andy Talley was also quoted at media day saying that Wallace looked to be one of the true freshmen who would see playing time this season. The coaching staff has no problem no problem with starting true freshmen on the line as they have done before with past players like Brian Brannigan, Clouser, Ijalana and Dan Shirey.

The backup situation at guard is much less desperate than at tackle. Based on what I saw at practice, another true freshman, Vince Kowalski was getting some reps at the position. Kowalski will probably be the backup at both guard positions, and behind him would be sophomores Derek Schatz and James O'Connor.

It's very hard to compete in football at any level without a competent offensive line. During this season, especially at the beginning, Villanova fans will witness what it's like to go from the greatest offensive line in school history to one that projects to be slightly above average in the very best circumstances, and more likely one that is thoroughly average or even below average. There is literally zero room for any additional injuries because the last thing Vilanova needs is tight ends and defensive ends (in addition to the defensive end already playing on the O-Line) playing on the offensive line. Offer a sacrifice to whichever deity that you worship, not only so that that this unit stays healthy, but also in the hope that one of these guys morphs into Bruce Matthews overnight.

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 8 is For Norman White

Wide Receiver: 2008-Present

Norman White enters his senior season on the heels of  a 2010 season where he had 69 catches for 886 and 11 touchdowns, a campaign that ranks as one of the most prolific by a wide receiver in Villanova history. A co-captain and two year starter, White will be counted on to be a security blanket for a young quarterback this season, whoever that may be. By all accounts, he's also a tremendous run blocker for a receiver. Here's hoping he's healthy and ready to go for the season opener.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Villanova Football 2011 Preview Part One: Quarterback, Backs, and Receivers

This is part one of a multiple part season preview. Each one will focus on a different position group, and it will all wrap up with a preview of the game against Pennsylvania Government Waste (Temple) a day or two before the game.

This is a year of great transition for the Villanova football team, especially on offense. Not since 2007 has there been such little turnover amongst the skill positions. Unlike 2007 though, the players who need to be replaced in these positions are amongst the greatest ever at their respective positions. Players like Matt Szczur, Chris Whitney, Aaron Ball, and Angelo Babbaro do not come along every year, and it's a very distinct possibility that Villanova may never find a player with Szczur's combination of versatility and playmaking ability ever again.  Now I'll get this started.

Quarterback: Heading into 2011, the quarterback duties are redshirt freshman Dustin Thomas' to lose. Even though he received a medical hardship waiver last season while dealing with mononucleosis, Thomas still has the distinct advantage of learning first hand from Whitney, the quarterback during the most prosperous three year stretch in school history. From a physical skills standpoint, Thomas blows Whitney out of the water; he has a stronger arm, he's faster on his feet, and he throws a much nicer ball; he does not possess the size or the physical strength of Whitney, but he is probably more developed as a passer than his predecessor was when he was handed over the reigns of the offense. If Dustin is able to keep the starting quarterback position to himself for a full four seasons, he will be the first quarterback since Kirk Schulz from 1986-1989 to hold onto the starting quarterback job throughout his four seasons of eligibility, so it's safe to say that some of Villanova's career records for quarterbacks could be under threat from Dustin if he is able to develop, stay healthy, and most importantly hold on to the starting job.

Behind Dustin Thomas is senior Christian Culicerto, true freshman Chris Polony, and true freshman John Robertson. When Thomas was hurt last season, Culicerto was unoffically-officially the backup to Chris Whitney, but I'm pretty certain that if Whitney got hurt, Villanova would essentially run the wildcat full time with Matt Szczur. My guess is that Culicerto would be take over as quarterback in the case that there was a mid-game injury to Thomas, but that's simply a guess. If there is an injury to Thomas that requires him to miss multiple games, one of the freshmen is likely to start. Based on going to a practice, it's basically a dead heat between Robertson and Polony, but if I had to guess, it would be Robertson who would get the nod since his ability to run the ball brings a dimension to the game (more than 2,000 yards his senior season) that Polony, who is more of a drop back passer simply cannot match.

Running Back: With the losses of Ball and Babbaro, Villanova lost its top two tailbacks from the last three seasons. Ball ended his career as the second leading rusher in school history, and Babbaro's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield was an invaluable skill that will be missed in 2011. The odds on favorite to take over as the feature back role is diminutive senior Lawrence Doss. In spot duty over his three seasons on the Main Line, Doss has averaged 4.5 yards per carry and has scored four touchdowns. Doss also has good hands and is a better than average receiver out of the backfield.

At fullback will be sophomore Ransford Quarrie, one of the most physically imposing collegiate running backs that I have ever seen in person. While Quarrie will see the occasional carry, his main job will be to open holes in the running game.

Doss's primary backup should be redshirt freshman Austin Medley, who was perhaps the best player from the recruiting class of 2010. If something were to happen to Medley, one of the two true freshmen Kevin Monangai and Jamal Abdur-Rahman would likely see a role in the offense, or it's possible that the offense could be retooled slightly with Ransford Quarrie getting increased touches. Ideally, both Monangai and Abdur-Rahman will redshirt and get a chance to learn the offense this season like Ball and Babbaro were able to do during their true freshman seasons.

Wide Receiver: Matt Szczur is a huge loss, but Norman White, if healthy could be the best returning wide receiver in FCS football. White was named first team All-CAA last season after catching 69 balls for 886 yards and 11 scores. At 6-3, 205 lbs, White is a big, physical wide receiver who is a terror in the red zone. A successful season from Norman White is an absolute necessity for this team to do well this season. The other starters in the base offense will be junior Dorian Wells and senior Mikey Reynolds.  Wells had a very good season until he ruptured his spleen against Stephen F. Austin, and Reynolds, a five foot six inch ball of fury will finally get an opportunity to have a full time role after three seasons as an understudy.

Sophomore Joe Price figures to be the flanker in four wide receiver packages, and he seems to be a favorite of  receiver coach Brian Flinn's based on his thursday twitter tradition of listing #JoePriceFacts. Behind Price will be a menagerie of players including junior Kenny Miles, redshirt freshman Corey Reeder, and possibly (possibly being the operative word) true freshman Clay Horne.

Tight End: Sophomore Brennan Erbeznik's job to lose. Erbeznik is big (six foot six, 240 lbs) and is a good receiver by all accounts. Behind him is a pair of true freshman in Morgan Craig and Earnest Pettway. Based on my observations from practice, Craig will be the second tight end in the two tight end package. Pettway is an undersized developmental prospect who seems to be more of the H-Back/"Move" tight end type.

That's it for this edition of the preview, tomorrow I will be back with doom and gloom my preview of the post Ijalana/Clouser era offensive line.

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 9 is For J.J. Outlaw

Wide Receiver: 2002-2005

Nicknamed "Hollywood" by his teammates for the relative ease in which operated with the media, J.J. Outlaw held essentially all the same responsibilities in the Villanova offense that Matt Szczur did. The son of a former NFL player turned NBA assistant coach, Outlaw led Villanova in receiving in each season from 2003-2005 and is currently fourth in school history in career receptions and sixth in career receiving yards.

Career Stats:
94 Rushing Attempts
754 Rushing Yards
199 Receptions
2,326 Receiving Yards
18 Total Touchdowns

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 10 is For Brett Gordon

Quarterback- 1998-2002

I like Chris Whitney, and Chris Boden was a great quarterback, but if Brett Gordon wasn't 5'10 (generously listed as such), there is no way in hell that he would have gone to Villanova. If Gordon were 6'2, he would have ended up at at a school like Miami or Penn State, and I'm convinced that he would be just as good. A dropback passer in every sense of the word, Brett Gordon was one criminally officiated game against McNeese State away from leading VU to Chattanooga in 2002. Gordon was great his first two years as a starter, but he proved his mettle in his his senior year; the year after Brian Westbrook graduated.  In 2002, Brett Gordon became the only Villanova quarterback to ever throw for over 4,000 yards in the act of carrying his team on his shoulders to the National Semifinals, but he was robbed of the Walter Payton Award by some chubby chaser from Eastern Illinois named Tony Romo.

If I have any trepidation about saying that Chris Whitney is the greatest quarterback in Villanova history, it is because I saw Brett Gordon at his best. I saw the player who torched Rutgers, and put up ungodly numbers against conference opponents.
Career Stats:
833 Completions
1246 Passing Attempts
9.639 Passing Yards
83 Touchdowns

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 11 is For Tom Colombo

Quarterback- 1989-1992

At 5'7 inches tall, Tom Colombo may have been the shortest quarterback in Villanova history, but he was also one of the best quarterbacks in school history.  A former walk-on, and nephew of heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano (who himself was diminutive,) Colombo started for three seasons at Villanova and is fifth on the school's passing list with over 5,000 career yards.  He was inducted into the Villanova Hall of Fame in 2010.

Friday, August 19, 2011

8/19 Villanova Football Practice Observations

Today I made the trek to Villanova football practice for the first time this season and tried my hardest to pay attention to the action. Below are some of my observations from the practice.
  • Injuries: Three of the top four receivers weren't practicing today. Norman White, Joe Price, and Dorian Wells were all sitting out. White was in a walking boot. Fullback Ransford Quarrie pulled up lame on one play and spent a little while on the training table with a lower leg (ankle?) injury, but after being taped up, he resumed practice. 
  • The first team defense appeared to be Rakim Cox, Antoine Lewis, Marlon Johnson, Jeremy Rodriguez, Dillon Lucas, James Pitts, Shane Harris, Ronnie Akins, Eric Loper and Craig James.
  • The offensive line was a complete clusterfuck. Hopefully this defensive line is outstanding, because the pass protection for the most part was abysmal.
  • Former starting kicker Nick Yako looked awfully sulky on the sidelines.
  • New defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo sounds like Tom Waits after smoking 100 cigarettes and having his vocal cords massaged with a cheese grater.
  • There is lots of concern about the linebackers apparently. After watching practice today, I think they'll be fine. There might be some teething problems, but everything looked good. I was especially impressed with senior Jeremy Rodriguez as he seemed to be extremely athletic and instinctive.
  • I noticed two true freshmen: Kyle Wallace and Vince Kowalski getting significant reps at guard. With one freshman possibly starting on the offensive line, and Dillon Lucas possiblystarting at mike linebacker, it's very possible that two true freshmen could start against Pennsylvania Government Waste (Temple) on opening day.
  • If I were to rank the quarterbacks on how much they impressed me from highest to lowest, the order would be 1. Dustin Thomas 2. John Robertson 3. Chris Polony 4. Christian Culicerto. I just felt like Thomas threw the nicest ball. It had the best velocity, and was the tightest spiral. Didn't see many deep throws today, so I can't really comment much on touch.
  • Six foot six inch wide receiver Clay Horne looks like he could end up a good player. He looked surprisingly fleet of foot for his height.
  • No trace of the wildcat at practice. Looks like that died when Matt Szczur left.
It was fun to go out to practice and watch some actual football after eight long months without it. Check the practice schedule, and try to make your way out to one before fall practice comes to a close.

Using Advanced Stats To Dig Deeper Into Isaiah Armwood's Departure

Yesterday, I opined that the worst thing about losing Isaiah Armwood would be more playing time for Maurice Sutton. Well, this morning I decided to look at Ken Pomeroy's tempo-free statistics for Villanova from this past season, and I came to the alarming conclusion that Armwood was actually less effective than Sutton in the 2010-2011, yet he was still being given around twice the minutes. The numbers were especially alarming due to the fact that the Armwood's metrics indicated little improvement from his freshman to sophomore year, and suggest that he may have even regressed. Sutton on the other hand, made a noticable improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons. Is this a function of Sutton's extra year in the program? I don't know. What I do know is that it's alarming to see how little improvement Armwood made, and somewhat encouraging to see what Sutton was able to do.

Comparing Sutton and Armwood in 2011 using advanced statistics:

%Min: 21.5-41.1 
ORtg: 97.6-95.4
%Poss: 14.7-10.8
%Shots: 10.0-7.4
eFG%: 53.8- 49.1
TS%: 56.9-53.4
OR%: 8.4-9.2
DR%: 17.2-15.5
ARate: 4.0-3.3
TORate: 25.6-28.4
Blk%: 11.2-5.0
FC/40: 7.4-4.0
FD/40: 4.3-2.6
FTRate: 102.6-72.7 
glossary of terms here and here

As you can see from the numbers, Sutton has the edge in all but a few categories. The numbers clearly demonstrate that Isaiah Armwood not Maurice Sutton was the worst player on the team, and that Sutton was also better on defense. Armwood was still probably the second best post defender on the 2010-2011 team, and that's where his departure will sting the most, but it doesn't look like he will ever be a starting caliber player on a Big East team. In such a guard oriented offense, a post player at Villanova must have some offensive ability, and it doesn't seem like Armwood was able to fit that bill.

This doesn't make me think that Maurice Sutton should see more meaningful minutes against good teams unless he shows something to earn those minutes, but it alters my perception (and should alter the perceptions of others) that he was the worst offensive player on the floor last season. His year to year improvement on the offensive end also gives hope that he could perhaps be a useful rotation player down the line.

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 12 is For Kirk Schulz

Quarterback 1986-1989

A 6-3 190 pound four year starter, Kirk Schulz was the second quarterback in the Andy Talley era, the first quarterback to lead Villanova onto the field against exclusively 1-AA competition, and the first quarterback to start a playoff game.

Schulz currently sits at second all-time in career passing yards at Villanova with 9,676, third all time in touchdowns with 74, and third in career total offense with 9,261 yards.  Schulz also holds the single season and career interception marks with his 22 picks in 1989 and the 73 he threw in his career.  At the time of his graduation, he held just about every conceivable passing record in school history (then Chris Boden came along and broke just about all of them).

Most importantly, he's on this list because he was teammate of my uncle. Pseudo-nepotism FTW.

Career Stats:
793 Completions
1330 Passing Attempts
9,676 Passing Yards
74 Touchdowns
73 Interceptions

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Isaiah Armwood Is Transferring.. For Real This Time

I logged onto my blog today and noticed that I was getting wayy more hits than normal, I wondered why, only to realize that Isaiah Armwood is transferring, and most of the hits were to my April Fools post.

Isaiah Armwood on his decision to transfer:
"I love Villanova - the school and the team - but I want to find a program that fits my style of play better."
Jay Wright:
"Isaiah is a great young man. His hard work and commitment to the values of our program made him a leader of our team. We'll miss him but the most important thing is his happiness and we support him in his quest to find a new home."
I'm extremely indifferent about this. I thought Zeke did some good things, but I always felt like he was an offensive liability. Over on VUHoops.com, there's a post opining that his departure is an upgrade, but I'm not too sure about that. In the very best scenario, this has little or no effect on the team, but if injuries were to happen, this could be a very bad thing, since it opens up an additional lane for Maurice Sutton to gain playing time. It's time to pray for no injuries in the front

New Year, Same Georgetown

In an exhibition game with the Bayi Rockets, a Chinese professional team, the Georgetown basketball team decided to take a trip back to their roots. In case you needed more proof that John Thompson III is nothing like his (scary) father, he pulled his team off the court.

I guess this puts an end to any talk of this being a "goodwill tour"

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 13 is For Martel Moody

Safety- 2006-2010

I'm not going to lie, I thought that Martel Moody was going to be a superstar who would end up in the league after his tremendous redshirt freshman season in 2007. That season, he led the team in interceptions, and looked like a genuine ballhawk. The next two seasons, Moody simply disappeared as he garnered sporadic playing time. He finally came back strong and started again this past season and recovered the fumble against Delaware that got Villanova into the playoffs (above), but it leaves me to wonder what he could have been had he developed from where he was as a freshman.

Career Stats:
99 Tackles
6 Tackles For Loss
1.5 Sacks
17 Pass Deflections
7 Interceptions
1 Forced Fumble
1 Defensive Touchdown

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 14 is For Ross Ventrone

Safety- 2007-2009

As the younger brother of former Villanova super stud and current Cleveland Browns safety Ray Ventrone, it is only natural that Ross Ventrone ended up on the Main Line.  After playing at Pitt for two seasons as a walk-on and earning little playing time, Ventrone decided to head east to his brother's alma mater in 2007 where he was offered a scholarship and was able to garner immediate playing time.  In his three years as a starter, he was one of the key cogs in a defense that ultimately led Villanova to its first ever national championship.

Although undersized, Ross Ventrone was a strong hitter, an instinctual cover man, and very good in run support.

Career Stats:
198 Tackles
7 Tackles For Loss
3 Sacks
7 Interceptions
1 Defensive Touchdown

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Proper Reaction For The Villanova Law School Censuring

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 15 is For Frank Jankowski

Quarterback: 2003-2005

A highly touted recruit, Frank Jankowski was expected to do big things at Villanova. Unfortunately for him, he had Marvin Burroughs directly in front of him in line for the starting quarterback job. If you read A Season In Purgatory, you will find that Jankowski's relationship with the coaching staff was contentious, as he felt that he wasn't given the opportunity to compete with Burroughs like he felt he was promised. In the 2005 season, when Burroughs got hurt in the opening game, Jankowski stepped into the starting role and performed admirably given his lack of first team reps for him beforehand. Unfortunately, the 2005 team was collectively terrible and Jankowski feuded with the coaches, and he left the football team after that season.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 16 is For Joe Casamento

Quarterback: 2001-2004

One usually does not have a career as long as Andy Talley has if they make a lot of mistakes, and for the most part, Andy Talley's tenure at Villanova has been largely without glaring mistakes. The rush to promote Marvin Burroughs to the starting quarterback job in 2004 when he already had Joe Casamento, perfectly capable in his own right may just qualify as one of them. Casamento had proved that he was more than capable in 2003, setting a school record by completing 68.2% of his passes. The fact is that he always had Burroughs breathing down his neck from the moment he took his first snap as Villanova's starter.

An extra year of Joe Casamento starting may have stabilized the program, and prevented it from going into the tail spin it did for two and a half seasons, but we'll never know what the effects of such a decision would have been, and the program has obviously recovered since then.

Career Stats:
325 Passing Attempts
216 Completions
2,121 Passing Yards
14 Touchdowns
12 Interceptions

Matt Szczur Rides The Bus: Needz Moar Walkz Edition

The last time I checked in with an update on former Villanova football and baseball star Matt Szczur, I was underwhelmed by his lack of production since his promotion to Daytona. Ten games later, my feelings are much of the same. The walks are not nearly plentiful enough (4.2%), he's striking out a bit too much (12.6%) to justify showing as little power as he has, and the pitching will only get better as he climbs through the minor league ladder, so without adjustments, he'll more than likely strike out more and walk less. In the last ten games, Szczur hit .190/.227/.238, which drops his overall Florida State League line to .237/.269/377.

Right now, I'm somewhat bearish on a rapid advancement for Szczur, and It's worth noting that there are dozens of players drafted in the first round of the MLB draft that never made it to the show. I'm not making any predictions or trying to be a downer, but sometimes expectations need to be managed. The good news about all of this is that he still has three or four years to develop before he is forced into any sort of numbers game.

Daytona Stats:
119 PA
.237 BA
.269 OBP
.377 SLG
2 HR
10 RBI
6 SB
.305 wOBA

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Villanova Blown Out By Georgia (A Country)

Joseph Stalin: just about the only famous person from Georgia

Today, Villanova wrapped up a European trip in which they seemed to be completely in over their heads (I don't know for sure because I didn't watch the games). Before this game, I had no idea that they even played basketball in Georgia (the country) and I was fairly sure that they sucked at it. Well they do, and I hope they don't suck, because they beat Villanova 87-54, yes a full 33 points.

At this point, I'm quite bearish about Villanova's chances to compete for the Big East title this season, but like everyone, I enjoy pleasant surprises.

Recruiting: Villanova Gets Tenth Football Verbal (Highlights)

On Friday, Bryan Osei, a defensive end from Abington High School in Abington, PA became the tenth player to commit to the Villanova football team for the class of 2012. Osei, whose brother will be the starting center at Rutgers this year also carried offers from Pennsylvania Government Waste (Temple) and Kent State.

2012 Commits:
Nico D'Angelo OL Holy Spirit HS, NJ
Jake Prus OL Woodstown HS, NJ
Austin Calitro LB Danbury HS, CT
Mark Clements DB Oakcrest HS, NJ
Stacey Bedell  RB William Floyd HS, NY
Javon White RB Souderton Area HS, PA
Aaron Wells RB River Hill HS, MD
Tanoh Kpassagnon DL Wissahickon HS, PA
Michael Burke WR Columbia JSHS, PA
Bryan Osei DE Abington HS, PA

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 17 is For Chris Whitney

Quarterback- 2007-2010

Chris Whitney does not hold many Villanova records;  He was not the best athlete to play quarterback at VU; he didn't have the strongest arm; what you can say about Chris Whitney is that he is perhaps the toughest SOB ever to put on a Villanova uniform in any sport. Usually overshadowed by his more famous teammate Matt Szczur, and never given enough credit for what he could do on his own, Whitney managed to win 34 games, including Villanova's only national championship while losing only ten.  From the moment he stepped in for an injured Antwon Young, all Chris Whitney did was win.

Whoever will be his successor this season has enormous shoes to fill

Mazel tov Chris Whitney

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Villanova-Netherlands Highlights

Part two after the jump

Villanova Loses to The Netherlands 75-63

Mouphtaou Yarou had 15 points and 9 boards, Maalik Wayns had 15 points, shot poorly and had four turnovers, and Villanova lost to a team from a country where speed skating is more popular than basketball.

Contrary to rumors (and his nickname) Rik Smits did not play.

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 18 is For Chris Boden

Quarterback- 1996-1999

In 1997, Villanova quarterback Chris Boden had what is quite simply the greatest statistical season by a Villanova quarterback in the of the program.  In that magical season, Boden threw for over 3,700 yards and a school record 42 touchdowns for a team that went undefeated in the regular season and wound up finishing 12-1 after a heartbreaking loss to Youngstown State.

Chris Boden's Villanova career passing records
  • 10, 146 passing yards
  • 99 passing touchdowns
  • 1,412 passing attempts
  • 868 career touchdowns

Friday, August 12, 2011

Villanova-Israel Highlights

Part two after the jump

Some Quick Villanova Track Notes

Track news doesn't bring in the page views like basketball or recruiting, but I cover it anyway because Villanova is good at it and it makes me feel good. There has been some pretty big news over the past week or so in the world of VU track.
 I'll have a World Championships result post, maybe a preview as well as they approach. Be sure to check out the Villanova Running Blog, a fantastic source of info on all things Villanova track, historically and present day.

כיפת הסלע: וילאנובה תבוסות ישראל 94-92

After Israel missed a potential game winning buzzer beater, Villanova was able to defeat Israel 94-92. Defeating Israel is big, especially since they were widely considered to be the best team Villanova would face in this trip even though they were missing Omri Casspi of the Cleveland Cavaliers, their best player.

Dominic Cheek finished with 34 points on a nearly impossible to replicate 15-19 shooting, and Mouphtaou Yarou scored 22 points and grabbed 12 boards.

For Israel, Lior Eliyahu had 20 points, and David Blu scored 18

Jay Wright's comments on the performance:
"It sounds crazy to say this in August, but that was a great basketball game and a great win for us. I thought our young guys did a tremendous job against a tough, veteran team that spreads you out defensively."
 It's nice to get a win against a team like Israel that is probably better than VU, but you can't help but think that some things about this game (like shooting 64% from the field) are not sustainable for a long period of time so improvement must be made. Shooting 65% from the line is also unacceptable, even though the team seemed to make them during crunch time. Luckily, there is still time, and Maurice Sutton is only garnering limited minutes!

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 19 is For Kalise Cook

Defensive Back- 2004-2007 
The last decent player to wear 19 at Villanova was defensive back Kalise Cook.  After taking over for the injured Ray Ventrone in 2004, Cook would start 22 games at cornerback and safety over three seasons on the main line until injuries ultimately derailed his career. 
Career Stats:
102 Tackles
3 Tackles For Loss
1 Sack
2 Interceptions
4 Pass Break Ups

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Music Thursday: Awesome Guitar Solo Edition

I know I usually do this on tuesday, but I was busy when I would usually write it, so I was unable to publish it on time so bear with me.

If I were to write this three years ago, it would probably be all Van Halen and Guns N' Roses, but luckily for you the reader, my musical palate has become more refined. Now the chances are that you have probably heard all five of these songs, and if you haven't heard all of them, then I have served some sort of purpose. Below will be the songs in chronological order beginning with the earliest, in no particular order otherwise. This is by no means my favorite five guitar solos, but it's five of my favorite top 50.

First is Foreplay/Long Time, a song off of Boston's self titled debut album. Boston was founded by guitarist Tom Scholz, an engineer with a degree from MIT who manufactured his own sound equipment, which explains why this song sounds so clean despite being 35 years old, and why the band had a reputation as a very underwhelming (to say it kindly) live band.

Is Former Georgetown Star Victor Page A Pirate?

This, ladies and gentlemen is a recent mugshot of former Georgetown standout guard Victor Page. Back when he was at Georgetown, I used to think of him and his teammates (especially Allen Iverson) as the epitome of all that is evil in the world, partially because Villanova had the hardest of hard times in beating John Thompson's teams in his latter years, and partially because I was young and not very exposed to "the brothers". That was naivete on my part, but it turns out that Page hasn't helped himself too much in the years since he left Georgetown.

I know this is America, and we love the redemption story, but if you get shot in the eye and don't realize that it's time to make a change, you're probably going to end up in the clink, or six feet under.

Maybe this is time for Big John to step in and try to help his former charge, but if Fred Brown was telling the truth, JT2 isn't all that compassionate to players unless they found success in the NBA.

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 20 is For Brian Westbrook

Running  Back: 1997-2001

By stats or intuition, Brian Westbrook is simply the greatest player Villanova has ever had. He is the school's career rushing leader by a good margin, ended his collegiate career as the NCAA career leader in all purpose yards, was the first (and to this point only) player in NCAA history to gain 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season, and has more than double the touchdowns as the second person on the Villanova career list. It also doesn't hurt his cause that he has had an NFL career in which he was a two time All-Pro for the Philadelphia Eagles. After a senior season in which he gained 2,823 total yards and scored 29 touchdowns in only 11 games, Westbrook became the second player in school history to win the Walter Payton Award, after Brian Finneran won the award just four years earlier.

Let me just add that he achieved everything he did in college on one knee

Career Stats:
725 Carries
4,298 Rushing Yards
219 Receptions
2,582 Receiving Yards
2,289 Return Yards
84 Total Touchdowns

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Villanova Impuissant perd au Sénégal

Merde. That is the best word to describe losing twice in two days to a tiny West African country whose greatest contribution to the sporting world is DeSagana Diop. After losing a close game yesterday, it wasn't close today, as Villanova lost by 14 points, 79-65.

Maalik Wayns did what Maalik Wayns does, taking a lot of shots, making a small percentage of them, but still ending up with 15 points. Mouphtaou Yarou ended up with nine points and 11 rebounds on the night. In the good news department, Darrun Hilliard ended up with nine points by converting three times on three pointers.

Still though, merde.

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 21 is For John Dempsey

Safety: 2007-2010

A speedy safety who turned down offers from much bigger schools, John Dempsey went on to be a key contributor to the success of Villanova over the last four seasons. While Dempsey was adept in pass coverage, he excelled against the run and when he blitzed, as evidenced by his six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in the national championship season of 2009. Recently, Dempsey signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Rams, and is currently in their training camp.

Career Stats:
242 Tackles
26 Tackles For Loss
10 Sacks
5 Interceptions
19 Pass Breakups
1 Defensive Touchdown

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ross Ventrone Cut By Patriots, Darrel Young Starting For 'Skins

Just a couple of things that I didn't add to my Villanova link roundup because the information wasn't available yet.
That's it for tonight, I'll be back tomorrow with the countdown and some more.

Villanova Link Roundup For 8/9/2011

Today's pretty slow, so I'm going to run down some news of recent.
 The old school hip hop song for today is Nuthin But A G Thang by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, the seminal track off of Dre's 1992 LP The Chronic.

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 22 is For Angelo Babbaro

Running Back: 2006-2010

Babbaro was equally adept at running, receiving, and special teams which made him far more valuable than his career ending statistical line. Originally a backup to Matt Dicken and Aaron Ball respectively, he earned his way onto the field more and more as his career wound on, eventually garnering a virtual 50/50 split between himself and Ball by his senior year. His ability to be a safety valve for quarterbacks will be extremely missed this season.

Career Stats:
1365 Rushing Yards
745 Receiving Yards
22 Touchdowns

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday Practice Highlights

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 23 is For Osayi Osunde

Linebacker: 2005-2009

After beginning his career as a defensive lineman and playing sparingly, Osayi Osunde was switched to linebacker prior to his sophomore season and immediately became a difference maker at that position. Osunde led Villanova in tackles in the 2007 and 2008 seasons with 82 and 75 respectively before finishing second to Terence Thomas in 2009 with 82, which matched his his career high. Osunde was one of the two captains for the 2009 national championship winning team.

Career Stats:
242 Tackles
18.5 Tackles For Loss
5 Sacks
3 Forced Fumbles
2 Interceptions
1 Defensive Touchdown

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Savon Goodman May Be Reclassifying To 2013, Yet I Don't Care

I just got a text message from someone I trust that said 2012 Villanova commitment Savon Goodman from Academy of the New Church may be reclassifying to the class of 2013.  Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com is saying that Goodman himself is telling him it isn't true.

At this point, who really knows, and stupid rumors and "developments" like this are the main reason that I am so hesitant to cover recruiting in general. Until I see these kids on campus with my own eyes, I don't believe anything because I've lived through some hyped prospects who didn't amount to shit.  Savon Goodman, Daniel Ochefu and Ryan Arcidiacono still have a year left until they're officially on the roster.

So my advice is to calm the fuck down and not pin your hopes on the grades/decisions of 16 and 17 year olds.

Villanova Basketball itinéraire de la tournée européenne

The schedule for the Villanova basketball team's Tour de Europe has been set, with games in both Paris and The Netherlands. Regardless of the hype, anything less than wins is unacceptable to me, I don't care if Dan Gadzuric is playing for The Nethelands.

The Slate is as follows:
  • August 9, 2011 at 7:00pm – vs. Senegal
  • August 10, 2011 at 5:00pm – vs. Senegal
  • August 12, 2011 at 6:00pm – vs. Israel
  • August 13, 2011 at 8:00pm – vs. Netherlands
  • August 14, 2011 at 3:00pm – vs. Georgia
Qui veut Mouphtaou sexe?

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 24 is For Ducarmel Augustin

Running Back: 1997-2000

On any other Villanova team, Ducarmel "Duc" Augustin would have been without question the primary running threat on the roster. Unfortunately for Augustin, he came to Villanova in the same class as Brian Westbrook. When Westbrook missed the 1999 season because of a serious knee injury, Augustin was forced to be the feature back, and he made the most of it, with 136 carries for 680 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with 25 catches for 267 yards and a touchdown. Even though he was relegated to mostly a receiving role as a senior, he was still the second leading rusher on the team and scored eight total touchdowns. Born in Montreal of Haitian descent, but raised in Florida, Augustin had a brief career in the CFL after he was finished at Villanova.

Career Stats:
237 Rushing Attempts
1,151 Rushing Yards
107 Receptions
1,206 Receiving Yards
26 Total Touchdowns

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 25 is For Brian Finneran

Wide Receiver: 1994-1997

If you use statistics as a basis, Brian Finneran is quite simply the greatest pure wide receiver in Villanova history. 14 years after his graduation, Finneran is still atop the Villanova career list in career receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. In his senior season of 1997, he caught 96 passes for 1,389 yards and 17 touchdowns, (the latter two of which are still school records) en route to being the first, and as of this writing only wide receiver to ever win the 1997 Walter Payton Award as the best player in I-AA football. After he left Villanova,  he spent some time in NFL Europe, and then with the Seahawks and Eagles before settling on the Falcons, for which he played for ten seasons until he was not re-signed earlier this season.

Career Stats:
265 Receptions
3,872 Yards
34 Touchdowns

Friday, August 5, 2011


As you can tell, I'm pretty starved for football, and here are the highlights from the first Villanova football practice of the season.

Villanova Football Season Countdown: 26 is For Allyn Bacchus

Safety: 2003-2006

Allyn Bacchus is one of the rare players who doesn't redshirt, yet is still able to start every game of his collegiate career. A six foot safety from Hampton Virginia, a city that produces some of the best athletic talent per capita as any other part of America, Bacchus was a tackling machine in the defensive backfield, a leader on the field, and a central figure in the amazing turnaround Villanova underwent at the end of the 2006 season, leading the team in tackles with 103 and interceptions with two to help the team finish over .500 after an abysmal start to their season.

Career Stats:
374 Tackles
8 Tackles For Loss
1.5 Sacks
3 Interceptions
13 Pass Break Ups
3 Forced Fumbles
3 Fumble Recoveries

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Highlights: 2012 Villanova Football Commitment Michael Burke

Michael Burke, a wide receiver from Columbia High School in Lancaster Country PA has become the ninth player to make a (non-binding) verbal commitment to Villanova for the recruiting class of 2012. Burke (6'3 196 lbs) had 72 receptions for 1,185 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2010.

2012 Commits:
Nico D'Angelo OL Holy Spirit HS, NJ
Jake Prus OL Woodstown HS, NJ
Austin Calitro LB Danbury HS, CT
Mark Clements DB Oakcrest HS, NJ
Stacey Bedell  RB William Floyd HS, NY
Javon White RB Souderton Area HS, PA
Aaron Wells RB River Hill HS, MD
Tanoh Kpassagnon DL Wissahickon HS, PA
Michael Burke WR Columbia JSHS, PA


Villanova Football Season Countdown: 27 is For Terry Butler

Running Back- 2001-2004

After backing up Brian Westbrook during his freshman season, Terry Butler took over as a sophomore and became the feature back for Villanova's 2002 national semifinal run. During the 2002 season, Butler ran for 868 rushing yards on 202 carries and scored 12 touchdowns. As his career wound on, he began to share the load more and more with Moe Gibson, but he still ranks fourth all time in school history in career rushing yards with 2,220 yards, and scored as many total touchdowns in his career as Matt Szczur. After his Villanova career was over, Butler spent the 2005 season in the NFL with the New York Jets.

Career Stats:
498 Carries
2,220 Rushing Yards
30 Total Touchdowns

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Matt Szczur Rides The Bus: 17 Games In Daytona Edition

After 17 games for the Daytona Cubs of the Hi-A Florida State League, former Villanova baseball and football star Matt Szczur is having a mixed bag of results. On the one hand, his slugging percentage (.458) has risen, and he's hitting extra base hits at a sizably higher clip than he was in Peoria before his promotion, but he is also walking less and striking out more which have contributed to to his batting average and on base percentage being far too low (.264 and .293 respectively.) His relatively pedestrian batting average has been driven by a .288 BABIP (batting average for balls in play) which is particularly low for a player of his speed, so his batting average is probably due to rise eventually as he'll probably have better luck. He'll still need to walk more and try to strike out less, but the uptick in extra bases is very welcome for a player who doesn't have a ton of pop. All in all a very decent debut, and keep in mind that we're still working on a very small sample size.


Villanova Football Season Countdown: 28 is For Ray Ventrone

Safety: 2001-2004

Rarely do you hear about coaches wanting players to be less physical in practice, but if Ray Ventrone went all out in practice, he would have knocked out every Villanova skill position player possible, because he hit that hard. Before getting injured against Penn during his senior year of 2004, Villanova had arguably the best defense in school history, but his injury absolutely devastated the team. Ventrone recovered from his injury, and looked good enough that he was signed by the New England Patriots, where he spent a few years on the practice squad before eventually making the active roster, including being active for Super Bowl XLII and making what looked at the time to be a game saving tackle on a kickoff. Ray's brother Ross later came to Villanova, and was a starter at safety. on the 2009 National Championship team. Ray currently plays for the Cleveland Browns.

Career Stats:
251 Tackles
19 Tackles For Loss
2 Sacks
11 Pass Breakups 
1 Interception
5 Forced Fumbles
4 Fumble Recoveries

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Modest Trade-Off

Len Robbins of the New York Post reported today that Seton Hall, Marquette, and possibly a couple other non-football schools could possibly be casualties of a new Big East TV deal. In my opinion, neither of those moves would be terrible moves, and even though I enjoy playing against Marquette in basketball, getting there (and to DePaul for that matter) is just way too far to travel when weighed against their overall value to the conference. As far as I'm concerned, those schools could go away, with the negative consequences being fewer seats at the boardroom table for schools like Villanova, St. John's, Providence (I really could live without Providence, but the Big East would split before Providence is kicked out due to their strange clout in the conference offices,) and Georgetown.

I have a modest proposal that would allow the catholic schools to be represented at the conference table, while purging the conference of some undesirables. The proposal is to allow Villanova into the fold as a football member, and allow the conference to purge a couple schools. The only other option if the conference drop a few schools would be a split, which could spell disastrous to the future of the Big East, because basketball is just as much of a moneymaker for the conference as football is, and Villanova and Georgetown are two of the conference's most valuable basketball commodities.

The Big East would be best served if they can keep some of the catholic schools, and the best way to guarantee that is to accept Villanova's bid to play Big East football, period.