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Friends with Bennies: Q&A with Villanova's SB Nation Blog

The fine folks at VUHoops were kind enough to share some insight into Thursday's opponent.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
1) What kind of offense do the Wildcats run with John Robertson under center?

The Wildcats have used a no-huddle spread system, not dissimilar to what Chip Kelly ran at Oregon. They try to play fast and look to establish the running game early and often, with receivers who have to be as comfortable blocking for the run as they are grabbing a pass.

2) What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Villanova defense?

This is definitely a run-stopping defense. The top teams that Villanova faces in the CAA (and in FCS generally) tend to have strong running games, so the system is built to slow or stop the ground game; and they have been traditionally very good at it. They play a 3-3-5 look, but that excess of defensive backs doesn't necessarily make them unstoppable against the pass -- they have struggled against some of the better passing attacks.

3) What are the biggest question marks on the team going into the season?

Probably the biggest question mark anywhere on the team is the offensive line. That's the unit that probably has seen the most significant change from last season with a couple of key graduations shifting everyone around and bringing in a few new faces as well.

4) Villanova has been one of the best teams in the FCS this past decade, how has head coach Andy Talley built the program to what it is today? And how has he stayed there for 30 years?!?

Talley pretty much hit the ground running in the 1980s. There have been down years, obviously, but he started strong with postseason appearances coming early in his tenure, and building a reputation for his team as one that wins. He's also had a track record of landing great recruits, which has seen a good number of guys sign with NFL teams after graduation. Having names like Brian Westbrook and Howie Long attached to the program certainly hasn't hurt things either.

There was a chance he was going to leave Villanova in the early 1990s. A couple of FBS schools, including New Mexico State and Maryland were interested at one point -- ultimately, the opportunities that came up weren't a good fit for either Talley or the school. At a certain point, he just became a fixture.

5) What does the future hold for the program after Talley retires?

I think the program may be able to maintain some level of coaching stability in the post-Talley era. Mark Ferrante has been on the staff almost as long as Andy Talley has (29 years) and he has served as the Assistant Head Coach for the past 17 years, so I'd imagine that he'll have the inside track to take over the head job.

6) In your very thorough introduction to Villanova football you brought up the idea of moving up to the FBS. Let's say you're the athletic director, what would it take for you to accept an offer to upgrade football and make the move?

The major hurdle would be selling the idea to the university president. Obviously, the two prior times that Villanova considered the move, it was a move to the old Big East which was a power conference in the sport -- that should have been an easy decision, but the top administrators at Villanova has been resistant to the idea. In 1997 it is widely known that the President's office kibboshed any idea of moving football to the Big East (alongside UConn), and while the current president was less hostile to the idea in 2010-11, it is rather clear that he wasn't about to move up without power-conference TV revenue attached.

7) Are Villanova fans confident heading into this game against a seemingly reeling UConn team? What is your prediction?

Some of them are, I think. Fans who have seen a few iterations of these games, however, know that it's never an easy win for an FCS school over an FBS team. Depth, if nothing else, is a huge advantage, especially around Labor Day when it can get pretty hot on the turf. I don't like to do predictions; but if Villanova can play this year like they did last season against Syracuse (minus the awful kicking game), then UConn fans may be sweating a little bit.