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Coach Talley on Lafayette & Elon

Villanova Head Coach, Andy Talley shared his thoughts on Lafayette, Elon, and more during the CAA Coaches call.

On the win at Lafayette:

Coach Talley: It wasn't easy.  We had a great effort from our defense and special teams that actually saved the day for us.  Offensively, we didn't really have a very good day.  We had trouble throwing the football.  We ran the ball pretty well but Zach Bednarczyk didn't have one of his better days.  I am not sure if he wasn't feeling well or what but he went from being 20 out of 26 the week before against Towson and then Saturday he was barely 50%.  We struggled somewhat on offense - probably a little bit due to Lafayette's defense.  I think our defense really came to play - we opened up the game and Tanoh Kpassagnon scored on a fumble return and then we had an interception by Jeff Steeb, one of our linebackers, a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown and really our defense just pulled it out for us.  They gave us everything they had at Lafayette.  In the middle of the third quarter the score was 16-14 then we were able to pull away in the fourth quarter and take control of the game.  It was a tough game out of league and again I like the challenge of playing hard in the third quarter and we are going to have to do that in the CAA or be behind and have to figure out a way to come out and get it done.  I think we did that but it was not really a great offensive show on our part it was really done by our defense and special teams.  We blocked a punt which gave us a short field, etcetera ... so all and all I am happy to get the victory and looking forward to being back in the league against Elon and playing teams where it really matters in terms of the league championship, etcetera. 

Moderator: Tanoh Kpassagnon was the defensive player of the week in the CAA.  You mentioned the fumble recovery return but he also had seven tackles with three tackles for loss, a couple of sacks and he is obviously a big guy up front.  How difficult is he to stop for opposing offenses and what do you see as his potential down the road? 

Coach Talley: He was certainly double-teamed quite a bit - which probably was a smart move on Lafayette's part.  Tanoh right now is 6-7 and 290 pounds and skinny as a rail - he could really be 320 with a lot of quickness off the edge.  He is a definite pro prospect.  All of the guys that come into our place, and we have had every pro team twice looking at him, I think they feel he is a middle round guy - maybe sneak into the third or second round.  He is all of that.  He is really an outstanding player and he has tremendous upside and great speed and potential as a speed rush guy off the edge.  I think he is one of the better guys to come into our league in a long time.

VUSports: What do you view as the two or three big keys for your team in the game Saturday against Elon and what is the timeline for the return of Matt Gudzak from injury?

Coach Talley: Right now our concern is getting on an airplane and flying down to Elon and seeing how we play.  We have never played there before.  And, trying to become familiar with the surroundings, we will be playing on grass and we usually play on turf - so I think we need to make an adjustment there.  And, not being familiar with Elon's players or their style of offense and defense.  So I think we need to become aware quickly of the kind of team that we are playing.  Certainly their win over William & Mary got everybody's attention for sure so we know we are going to be in for a very very difficult game.  They are extremely well coached and they just did a phenomenal job last week against William & Mary.  Matt Gudzak should return this week.  We expect him to play maybe fifteen plays.  We are going to try to bring him back slowly because our two tailbacks for us right now are as good as Matt - maybe better actually.  Javon White had a really good game and Aaron Forbes rushed for like 115 yards and I thought was just the best back on the field ... so Matt is going to have to work hard to get back in the dance.

Delco Times: In a game like that, to have your special teams do what it did - your kicker, Gerard Smith, that has been kind of a sore spot for you to have him hit a field goal or extra points, it had to be a good feeling for you and the team ...

Coach Talley: We looked like a real college football team.  We made a 37-yarder and we made all four extra points and looked good doing it.  Our kick-off guy did a really good job.  Our punter, John Hinchen, usually is one of the better punters in the league.  We looked lke a football team that actually has a pretty good kicking game and you saw us early on, we really had some issues coming along.  Hopefully, Gerard will continue his progress and we will do a good job in that area and will be able to count on him.  I don't take him out too far for field goals.  I just want him to keep his confidence level up and keep it in that 35-yard deal.

Delco Times: Talk about your defense putting points on the board.  How helpful is that?  How much pressure does that take off the offense when they can get turnovers and put points on the board?

Coach Talley: Well they saved us this past weekend against Lafayette.  They really did.  We just didn't have a good outing offensively and when you have a defense that can actually score points for you or get the ball knocked down and turn it over with an opportunity to have a short field - then you are always in great shape.  They have certainly produced in the last couple weeks and I hope that progress continues because there are some game changers on the defensive side of the ball. 

Question: Talk about the last two weeks - big interception in the third quarter or late in the game to lock up the game - you know that is a pretty good way to, you know, finish up a game real quick - a nice big interception ...

Coach Talley: Those things can never really be predicted.  You never know when you are going to get one.  Sometimes you have got a guy covered and he makes a great catch or sometimes you get a tipped ball and you have an opportunity to return it.  It is not something you can count on.  We try to play good pass defense and get in the right spot and put enough pressure on the quarterback to hopefully get a bad throw.  I think we have been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

Question: I know this is only Monday but what do you see on film for Elon?  They are coming off a big win against Willima & Mary on the road.  

Coach Talley: William & Mary is not a good place to play it is a tough place to win.  That impressed me that Elon could go there and do that and they did it in convincing fashion.  There was no question about it.  They took control of the game early and were absolutely stout throughout the whole game.  Defensively, they did a great job.  They have a lot of team speed.  I love their quarterback.  They have a terrific running back and they can play defense.  They can run.  They are a typical southern team with really good speed.  They remind me of JMU a lot and I think they are going to be a load for Villanova. 

Question: What concerns you the most about your club going into conference play?

Coach Talley: The biggest thing right now is to get back up on the horse and play at the level we did against Towson.  We didn't know Lafayette and Lehigh very much and we kind of let down a little bit.  The league is so competitive.  When you are in the CAA, you have to roll out your best deal every week.  I think sometimes our players relax a little bit when we are playing out of league.  We are excited to be back and we have to play at a high level across the board to compete with Elon.  From now on in, we are in the CAA so anybody can beat anybody on any given day and that is what makes it a great league. 


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