(STATS) - Slowly, but surely first-year coach Mark Ferrante has been putting his stamp on the Villanova football program during spring practice, which concludes this week.
But Ferrante is experienced enough to know not to make significant change in his first season succeeding Andy Talley, who retired after last season following 229 wins over 32 years guiding the Wildcats.
Ferrante played collegiately under Talley as a quarterback at St. Lawrence and coached under him at Villanova for the last 30 seasons, most recently as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach.
Under Tallley, the Wildcats were highly successful, reaching six of the last nine FCS playoffs, including last year in a 9-4 season. They were the 2009 FCS national champions.
"I'm sure there's going to be some things I say where I may sound like Coach (Talley), because we've been together that long," Ferrante told Philly.com. "He built this thing. The formula is in place. That's not going to change. But I have to be myself, do what I think needs to be done. I've always tried to be a coach who interacted with everybody. I can do a lot more crossing the line now."
Villanova should remain one of the top CAA Football teams in Ferrante's first season, buoyed by the return of 15 starters, including nine on offense.
Ferrante figures to stick with the system that got Villanova to where it is today. Third-year starting quarterback Zach Bednarczyk will operate a ball-control offense with multiple running backs (led by Aaron Forbes and Matt Gudzak) getting regular touches. The physical defense has to overcome some key losses including All-America defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon, but safety Rob Rolle and linebackers Jeff Steeb and Ed Shockley are expected to have banner seasons.
Ferrante's first game will be at defending Patriot League champ Lehigh on Sept. 2.