By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
NEW YORK CITY — Vin Scully, one of the proudest alums of Fordham University, remembered his Ram baseball coach, Jack Coffey in a Los Angeles Dodgers television broadcast as the Dodgers played the Arizona Diamondbacks this week.
When a pair of Dodgers nearly collided before one of them caught a fly in the outfield, Scully was taken back to his days at Fordham and the story of a teammate crying out “I got it, I got it,” as he chased down a pop fly.
When the team arrived back in the dugout, Coffey — a one-time teammate of Ty Cobb — lectured the Rams on using proper English.
“Gentlemen, this is an institute of higher learning,” Coffey reminded. “It isn’t ‘I got it,’ it is ‘I have it, I have it.”‘
Shortly after that, a Fordham player was chasing a fly and started calling “I got it,” as he ran after the ball. He caught himself in mid-sentence and changed his cries to “I have it, I have it,” as he proceeded to drop the ball.
Coffey’s work as a grammar policeman came to an abrupt end, said Scully.
I don’t know if the Fordham football team used proper grammar on Saturday night as they made offensive and defense calls, but the Rams were impeccable in about every other way as they upset No. 5-ranked Villanova, 27-24, before an enthusiastic crowd of 5,178 spectators at Jack Coffey Stadium.
Quarterback Michael Nebrich communicated just fine with his legs (20 carries, 102 yards, two TDs) and his arm (26-of-35, 190 yards) as he sparked the Rams to one of their biggest wins in decades.
“We talked about this being a defining moment for the program,” said Joe Moorhead, in his second year as Fordham’s coach. “A win over a quality opponent like Villanova is going to legitimize us as as a playoff contender. We beat a very, very good CAA team.”
And Villanova helped orchestrate its own demise with five crucial turnovers, three of them with the Wildcats trying to rally in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a pretty easy read, you can’t win a game when you turn it over five times,” Villanova coach Andy Talley said. “We gave a good team a lot of opportunities.”
Nebrich, gaining much of his yardage on quarterback draw plays, opening the scoring with a 19-yard scamper on Fordham’s first drive and bookend it with a four-yard TD burst with 10:44 remaining as the Rams beat their second Colonial Athletic Association team in a row.
Fordham opened the season with a 51-26 victory at home against Rhode Island and is now 2-0 for the first time since 2003.
The Rams haven’t won three straight to start a season since its lower division days in 1988, when they captured six in a row.
Standing in the way of that is a Bowl Championship Subdivision opponent, Temple, at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
It isn’t an insurmountable task for the Rams, considering that Villanova has held its own with the Owls in past years. Temple — a squad with one of the least memorable histories in FBS — is 0-2 after losses to Notre Dame (28-6) and Houston (22-13).
“The margin of error will be smaller,” Moorhead said.
Meanwhile, Villanova is trying to regroup. A week after having a chance to beat Boston College of the ACC in an eventual 24-14 loss, the Wildcats are now sitting 0-2 with a squad that Talley said was potentially one of the best he had ever coached.
“We’re not used to being 0-2 out of the box,” said Talley.
Villanova can still fulfill its promise as the CAA preseason favorite and a FCS title threat, but the Wildcats won’t have much of a safety net as it maneuvers through the pitfalls of it brutal conference slate.
An off-week before Villanova hosts Stony Brook in its home and CAA opener couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Obviously we’re not playing this week,” said Talley. “That is a good thing.”
The Wildcats have been banged up, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, in the first two weeks and the week off should give Villanova the chance to get some players healthy.
It should also allow players such as VU quarterback John Robertson — last year’s Jerry Rice Award winner and the College Sports Journal co-freshman of the year (with Appalachian State receiver Sean Price) — an opportunity to regroup.
“For whatever reason, John Robertson is not the quarterback he was last year” said Talley, of a player who established himself as one of the top signal-callers in FCS. “He’s got to do a better job.”
Talley also put some pressure on his highly-touted offensive line.
“We are suppose to have one of the best offensive lines in the country, but they haven’t played like it yet,” said Talley.
But Talley also understands there is still plenty of season left to be played.
“It’s been 45 years for me (in coaching),” Talley explained. “Nobody died. We’ve just got to try to win a game.”