Villanova aims for its first win against Penn

Villanova reserve QB Christian Culicerto , a redshirt senior who played well when pressed into service against Monmouth last week, will make his make his first career start this weekend.
Villanova reserve QB Christian Culicerto , a redshirt senior who played well when pressed into service against Monmouth last week, will make his make his first career start this weekend.
Posted: September 22, 2011

Villanova's football team is 0-3 going into its nonleague game against host Penn (0-1) Saturday night. And, no, the Wildcats have not played better than their record indicates.

After losing 12 starters from squads that won a Football Championship Subdivision national championship and then reached the final four, 'Nova is one of the youngest teams in coach Andy Talley's 27 years at the school.

"Obviously, we are a struggling football team right now," said Talley, whose team is winless after three games for only the third time in his tenure. "We're in a rebuilding stage right now, and we're not going to continue to talk about that. We're a young team that we hope gets better each week."

Villanova was upset, 20-9, in its home opener last week by Monmouth, an opponent the Wildcats had never met before.

In that game, redshirt senior Christian Culicerto took over at quarterback in the second quarter after true freshman Chris Polony started and struggled. Entering the year, redshirt freshman Dustin Thomas was the starter, but he suffered a separated shoulder when the Wildcats went down at Towson in their second game of the season.

Thomas is expected to be out four to six weeks. Culicerto will make his first career start against Penn after going 11 for 24 for 183 yards with an interception.

Villanova has been outscored, 93-26, and has failed to get points in the first half in each of its games.

"Christian did a nice job for us, but we were just trying to put some points on the board," Talley said. "We've struggled to put points on the board, and to challenge teams, and to put pressure and stress on teams. We have not been able to move the ball."

The quarterback situation is not the only one Talley is trying to straighten out. Villanova lacks depth at wide receiver and was dealt a terrible blow when all-Colonial Athletic Association pass-catcher Norman White was ruled out for the season with a foot injury before the first game.

The running back Talley was hoping to start against Penn, 5-foot-11, 190-pound freshman Austin Medley, has a back injury and may not play.

Talley said he asked his upperclassmen to make an effort to encourage their teammates.

"Our upperclassmen have had success," Talley said. "They won a championship, and now this. The freshmen we recruited who saw us win a championship, they're like, 'What is this? This is not what I bargained for.' The big thing for us is to make sure our players stay on their games and improve. For us to say all is well when we're 0-3 . . . we have a team that's not playing with urgency and swagger, and that's the rebuilding part."


Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com.

 

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