Villanova's offensive line still unsettled

Posted: August 20, 2014

IT'S NO secret that junior quarterback John Robertson is the key to Villanova's success. His coaches and teammates know it, and they'll tell you so. The rest of the Colonial Athletic Association knows it, which is why Robertson was voted the conference's preseason offensive player of the year. And even some Wildcats fans who hold basketball Saturdays as more sacrosanct than football Saturdays probably know it, too.

But a great quarterback needs a great offensive line to be at his best. If Robertson is to repeat the feats of his sophomore season - 1,957 passing yards, 1,405 rushing yards and a total of 33 touchdowns - he'll need help from the men in front of him.

Villanova lost three starting linemen to graduation in May, and coach Andy Talley hasn't made his final decisions yet on who will step in to replace them.

This much is certain: Two of the starters will be senior center Ross Hall and senior tackle Vince Kowalski (Williamstown, N.J./Williamstown High). After that, things start to get interesting.

The leading candidate to start at the tackle spot opposite Kowalski is sophomore Brad Seaton. He's a tremendous prospect, not the least because he stands 6-8 and 308 pounds.

The two guard spots are up for grabs among four players: seniors Kyle Wallace and Peter Sotiriou and sophomores Nico D'Angelo (Margate, N.J./Holy Spirit) and Jake Prus (Woodstown, N.J./Woodstown High).

Whoever gets the call will be thrown right into the fire. In addition to the always-stacked CAA slate, Villanova - No. 2 in the CAA preseason poll - opens its season playing a level up at Syracuse on Aug. 29.

"They're big, rough kids that are going to be on their maiden voyage," Talley said during yesterday's media day at Villanova Stadium. "They're just going to have to grow real fast."

But Talley won't be changing his playbook. That's no small thing, given Talley's love of offensive wizardry - and Robertson's ability to do anything and everything.

"We're going to call our offense the way it is," Talley said, "and just hope that these guys come along with the returning offensive linemen that we have."

Kowalski cracked a smile when the Daily News asked him how often he knew in advance when Robertson would take off on a trademark run.

"Less than half the time," Kowalski acknowledged.

And he's just fine with that.

"I enjoy it," he said. "From a lineman's perspective, the offense is not as hard as you would imagine. It's much simpler for us than for the backs, quarterback and wide receivers."

Talley acknowledged that Robertson might have to improvise more than usual early in the season as the new starters settle in.

"I think John is going to be on the run a little bit early," Talley said. "He's going to have to get us back on schedule a few times during the game, because some of those young guys might cut some people loose."

Talley has only 10 days to get his starting lineup settled. The race for the FCS playoffs will be on as soon as the opening kickoff goes up at the Carrier Dome, and no matter who's on the field, Villanova won't have much time to waste.


On Twitter: @pretzel_logic

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