"We're trying to get some of our younger players playing time and experience," said Talley, whose squad qualified for the postseason in each of the last three years while going 33-9. "Just trying to get our younger players to play hard, which they have been doing. That's all we can ask right now."
The countdown on 'Nova's season begins on Saturday with the Wildcats hosting Old Dominion (5-2, 2-2) on homecoming day. The Monarchs, who are 20th in the Football Championship Subdivision, are the fourth ranked opponent for 'Nova in as many weeks.
In a year in which Villanova was without the class that led the Wildcats to the 2009 FCS title as juniors and an appearance in the national semifinals as seniors last year, injuries have thwarted any hopes the team may have had of being a factor in the CAA race.
'Nova lost all-league senior wide receiver Norman White to a foot injury before the season started. And when the Wildcats went down at Towson in the second game of the season, so did quarterback Dustin Thomas (shoulder) and sophomore wide receiver Joe Price (ribs), who suffered injuries that kept them out in recent weeks.
Thomas returned to play against James Madison, and the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Price will suit up against ODU. White, 6-3, 205 pounds, will return next season after sitting out this year on a medical redshirt, and 'Nova will also have back offensive lineman Chidozie Ekweozor, who was the only returning starter up front.
"I thought we would be better," said Talley, whose squad is averaging 14.1 points per game. "When we lost Norman White and Joe Price, that took away our playmaking ability. And then we lost the quarterback. That really, really hurt our chances of doing more offensively. Because we've been low-scoring, we've stuck our defense on the field a lot longer. So a young defense has ended up having to play too many plays."
The key to 'Nova's future may be Thomas, a redshirt freshman who needs some experience.
"The quarterback getting injured early didn't allow him to progress," Talley said. "Now we're trying to get him back in the mix, keep him healthy, get him some reps. Have him see the field in preparation for next year."
Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or email@example.com.