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Villanova all business going into FCS title game
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Andy Talley thought he had just the perfect plan to get second-seeded Villanova in the right frame of mind for tonight’s FCS showdown with top-seeded Montana at Finley Stadium.
Talley wanted to take the Wildcats to see the movie, “Blind Side.”
Team captains Osayi Osunde, Phil Matusz and Brian Brannigan shot down that plan.
“This isn’t a pleasure trip,” Osunde said. “This is a business trip. We’re here on business.”
The last thing the Wildcats (13-1) need is to go see a movie.
“We want to stay focused,” Matt Szczur said. “We don’t need to go see a movie. We just want to hang out and get ready for the game.”
The Wildcats did the community thing Wednesday when both teams had dinner with children from the Bethel Bible Village and the Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga and then went on a tour of the Tennessee Aquarium.
Even then, their focus was on the game.
“We all posed for pictures with these plaques that said, ‘2009 Championship,’ Szczur said. “We’re going to enjoy every minute of this experience. We’re going to have fun. We’re loose. That’s how we are.”
To a man, the Wildcats felt they did not need another team gathering to get ready for the Grizzlies (14-0).
That was fine with Talley.
“Absolutely,” Talley said. “I thought it was great.”
It told Talley the Wildcats were ready.
“We’re here to play a football game,” Whitney said. “We’re not going to let anything distract us or take our minds from that.”
The goal is a championship ring like the one Rollie Massimino gave to Talley nearly 25 years ago after Villanova shocked the basketball world and knocked off Georgetown to win the 1985 national championship.
Talley still has that ring and likes to pull it out on occasion.
“I wore it for the first two years when I went on recruiting trips,” Talley said. “I used to tell kids, ‘We’re going to get one of these.’ I didn’t know it would take me 25 years to get the chance and who knows if we’re going to get one (tonight).”
The players are pretty confident, event though the Grizzlies have been here before, including last year when Montana fell to Richmond in championship game, 24-7. The Grizzlies are 2-4 in championship games overall.
“I don’t think that’s a big factor,” Whitney said. “We’ve played in a lot of big games this year. Our league (CAA) is really tough. Every game was like a playoff game and we never looked ahead or back. This is the next game. That’s how we’re treating it. Yeah, it’s for the national championship, but we’re going to continue to do the things that got us here.”
“Our motto is one game at a time, one play at a time and one step at a time,” Osunde said. “This is the next step.”
The biggest in Villanova’s football history. To win The Wildcats will have to find a way to slow down the highest scoring team in the FCS (36.9) and find a way to get past Montana’s massive offensive line. The Grizzlies averages 6-5 and 295 pounds per man, and have four starting linemen who are at least 6-7 and 297 pounds.
“They’re line an NFL line,” Osunde said. “They’re huge and they have good feet. They’re a great football team, but they’ve given up sacks. I’ve watched a lot of film of them and I think there are some things that we can exploit.”
Osunde, who has been nursing a hip-flexor injury, would not elaborate. He’s not about to reveal any secrets at this time.
Nor is he or any of the Wildcats about to be distracted from their mission.
“We came down here with a goal, to win a national championship,” Osunde said. “We’re not going to be satisfied until we’re holding that trophy (tonight).
Contrary to popular belief, revenge against the Colonial Athletic Association will not be a subplot when top-seeded Montana (14-0) takes on second-seeded Villanova (13-1) in tonight’s FCS champinship game.
Montana coach Bobby Hauck said it means nothing that the Grizzlies are 0-2 in championship games against the CAA. Richmond beat Montana for the title last season and James Madison did the trick in 2004.
“We’d just like to win it, it doesn’t matter who,” said Hauck, who is in his seventh season as head coach. “They could roll out the girls scouts (tonight) and I would just assume play them. We have a history with the conference. We understand they have a good league and with good coaching and a good recruiting base. But in terms of the two leagues, we’re here, they’re here, it’s nice for our conferences, but it’s their team against our team.”
The Grizzlies are trying to become the first FCS team to go undefeated since Marshall went 15-0 in 1996.
“It’s part of history,” All-America wide receiver Marc Mariani said. “People talk about it all the time. I think behind closed doors inside the locker room, we are doing our same routine. We’re taking it one game at a time. It’s one of those things that after the season you have time to reflect and look back on it. In the grind of a 16-week season, if you don’t focus on the task at hand, there’s going to be problems for you.”
Matt Szczur picked up his second All-America honor when he was named as the all-purpose player on the Associated Press FCS All-America team. Offensive tackle Ben Ijalana earned second-team honors and defensive end Tim Kukucka was named to the third team. It was the second All-America honor for Szczur and Ijalana. Both were named to the Walter Camp All-America team Monday.
Villanova all business going into FCS title game
By Terry Toohey, The Pottstown Mercury