"It's definitely a confidence boost," Polony said. "Last year, everyone was competing in training camp, but this year it's my team. It's my offense, so I can feel more comfortable telling everybody what to do and what my expectations are for them."
Entering his second year at the helm of the Villanova offense, Polony considers himself to be a completely different quarterback. Through his rigorous offseason workouts with his receiving corps, Polony has worked to develop the necessary skills to live up to his new role as the full-time starter.
"My accuracy and arm strength have improved over the past year. I've been getting in the weight room to get a lot bigger, faster and stronger. That's helped to give me confidence," Polony said.
Though Polony managed just 713 passing yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions while appearing in seven games last season, the quarterback has taken all of the first-team reps at training camp. Now that it finally have some consistency at the quarterback position, the Wildcats' offense, which topped 20 points just three times last season, is starting to gel.
"We've just needed to get on the same page and I think that's definitely what we're starting to do right now. With all the receivers, we're just getting on the same page and I need to know where they're going to be. Even offensive lineman, too," Polony said. "Everyone is a year older and a year smarter, so I think we're going to be a lot better this year."
The Wildcats will be more experienced as they head into the 2012 campaign, but more importantly, they will be healthy. For the first time in his Villanova career, Polony will have the Wildcats' biggest offensive weapon at his disposal, as wide receiver Norman White returns to action. After missing the entire 2011 season with a Lisfranc injury of his left foot, White, named a preseason second-team All-America by The Sports Network, will look to return to his dominant ways in his senior season.
In 2010, White was named first-team all-CAA when he caught 69 passes for 886 yards and 11 touchdowns. Polony is grateful to have his top target back on the field, and the two have spent the entire summer developing chemistry that will serve them well on Saturdays.
"Polony and I have been here all summer together. Every time we've worked out, we throw together. We have a pretty good connection going on. He's going to be a really good quarterback," White said. "He's young, but now he's more experienced. I think he's got a bright future ahead of him. He's a lot more mature now."
White isn't the only new weapon Polony will have at his disposal. Last season, Dustin Thomas started the season opener and played six games in what was a revolving door at quarterback for the Wildcats. This year, instead of throwing passes to Villanova receivers, he will be catching them from Polony. In a bold move, seasoned head coach Andy Talley decided to switch Thomas to wide receiver during the offseason, assuring his team there would be no quarterback controversy. Polony is their guy.
While another run at a national title seems unlikely this season, there is little doubt that Villanova will be an improved team this year. Having the same man under center each week with his top weapon at his side could go a long way for the Wildcats.
As Polony and the Wildcats get set to open their season against Temple in the Mayor's Cup at Lincoln Financial Field, Talley is confident that his signal caller is headed in the right direction, but still has much room to grow. With a year under his belt, the strides Polony is set to make this year will likely have more to do with his mental processing of the game and less to do with his physical abilities.
"The thing we're trying to do with Chris right now is eliminate bad decisions," Talley said. "We're asking him to stay with his reads and not turn it over. His arm is real strong and he's a very cool customer. With Chris, it's just a matter of getting more reps in real games."
Contact Daniel Carp at email@example.com.