Villanova Football enters 2014 at number 14 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 6-5 (5-3) Colonial Athletic Association
2013 was a tale of two teams for Villanova football. They opened the season with two road-losses to Boston College of the FBS and Fordham, both by less than ten points. Then they returned for a three game homestand against Stony Brook, Penn, and William & Mary, and won all three. So going into week six, they were 0-2 on the road and 3-0 at home. Except for an upset of Towson (45-35) on the road, a two point home-loss to Maine, and a 45-0 demolition of Rhode Island, the Wildcats stuck to the pattern of home wins and road losses all season. They finished 4-1 at home and a disappointing 2-4 on the road.
-Josh Bucci OG – Second team All-Conference
-Bill Vogel OT – Three year starter
-Dan Shirey OG – Captain, former first team and third team All-Conference
-Rakim Cox DL – First team All-Conference, 30 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 9 sacks, 1 FF, 3 BKs
-Antoine Lewis DL – Second team All-Conference, 56 tackles, 3 TFL
-Craig James DB – Second team All-Conference, 63 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 8 pass defences, 1 BK
-Mark Hamilton P/PK – Third team All-Conference, 8/9 FGs (88.9%), long of 35, 44 punts, 41.7 yard average
What to Watch For
Quarterback – For his work during his 2012 freshman season, quarterback John Robertson earned the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS football, the Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Rookie of the Year, and a third team All-Conference nod. Last season, he got even better. Robertson was named the second team All-CAA after a season in which he completed 169 of 247 passes (68.4%, best in the conference) for 1,957 yards, 13 TDs, and 7 INTs. He was also the leading rusher on the team, to the tune of 217 carries for 1,562 yards and a whopping 20 TDs. Of all CAA players, only first team All-FCS running back Terrence West averaged more points per game than Robertson’s 10.9, and his performance makes him the preseason favorite to win the CAA Offensive Player of the Year award in 2014.
Three teams finished ahead of the Wildcats in the Colonial Athletic Association standings last season: Maine, Towson, and New Hampshire. Villanova played all three of these teams over a three-week stretch in the middle of last season. First they went to Towson and beat the Tigers 45-35, one of only two road-games the Wildcats won last season. John Robertson came out hot and completed 17-straight passes to start the game as he lead Villanova to an early 21-0 lead, a lead they held on to. Then, the next week, they travelled to Durham to play New Hampshire and in as exciting a game as you’d ever hope to see, Robertson punched in a touchdown on the ground with 1:55 left on the clock to tie it at 21. They gave the ball back to New Hampshire, and after a quick three-and-out, Robertson got the ball back and ran 42 yards for the go-ahead TD just 46 seconds after his previous score. With under a minute left, New Hampshire drove down the field and scored with only 13.8 seconds remaining and converted the game-winning two point conversion immediately following. Final score: New Hampshire 29, Villanova 28. Then they went home to face Maine and suffered their only home-loss of the season, again in dramatic fashion. Robertson scored four TDs on the ground and rushed for over 200 yards for the second week in a row as he led the Wildcats back from a 16-point deficit early in the third to bring the score within two going into the fourth quarter. They never got closer and lost 37-35.
Each of those three teams lost more key players than Villanova this offseason, who lost only six starters in total. It won’t be easy, but the Wildcats have an opportunity this season to push past the three schools that finished ahead of them in the CAA standings last year and should be considered a dark-horse for playoff contention.