Phillip Walker will be happy when he doesn’t have to throw over Sean Chandler.
Thirty-five years ago, a kid came out of nowhere to set a Temple record and, in the process, lead the nation in interceptions.
Sam Shaffer, a safety who could play the middle of the field like a baseball centerfielder, had nine interceptions for the 1981 Owls.
Since then, we haven’t seen a guy with Shaffer’s vision in the middle of the field and his break on the ball skills until now. Appropriately enough, his nickname is Champ. For now, Shaffer is the champion of Temple interceptors and Champ is the, err, challenger. In a few months, those roles could be flip-flopped.
We cannot say for sure that Sean Chandler will lead the nation in interceptions, like Sam Shaffer did, but by putting Chandler at safety, he will definitely challenge Shaffer’s all-time single season mark with the Owls. Since it is August 17, we will go on record as saying Chandler will tie the regular-season mark with nine and add at least one in the postseason.
Temple head coach Matt Rhule kicked the offense off the field in practice on Tuesday and there are a couple of conclusions that could be made. The offense could be that bad or the defense could be that good and, for the sake of our own sanity, we will go with the latter. Chandler is just one piece of what has been a dominating defense in the summer and he should benefit from an improved pass rush and the overall speed of the defense.
Shaffer, though, should be remembered.
He twice victimized Todd Blackledge in a 30-0 loss to second-ranked Penn State on Oct. 3, increasing his total to five and took over the national lead in interceptions. Number six cam in a 24-13 win over Cincinnati and equaled the Temple record of seven — set in 1952 by Larry Cardonick — with a pick against Oliver Luck in the Owls’ 24-19 loss to West Virginia.
In the season finale against top-ranked Pitt, Shaffer intercepted two Marino passes to eclipse Cardonick’s long-standing mark. His eighth and ninth interceptions came against a pretty good quarterback named Dan Marino.
We haven’t seen a Sam Shaffer play for Temple until now and, while he’s a challenger for a special record, he should be a Champ before long.
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