5 Keys For Beating Penn State


Saturday would be a good time for the Owls to start playing like the  AAC champion The Sporting News predicted this summer.

After a shocking loss to Army that was more the result of a bad coaching scheme than physicality, Temple coach Matt Rhule conducted a ping-pong tournament at the Edberg-Olson Football Complex. The ping-pong diplomacy was just another bonding session for the Owls and, judging from the outcome of the Stony Brook game, the team that plays ping-pong together, wins together. So maybe playing table tennis this week is not a bad idea.


“I want you to roll out and find receivers running free.”

Here are five other things they need to do:

  1. Making McSOREly

When Temple defensive coordinator Phil Snow last visited Happy Valley, he came up with a defensive scheme almost as bad as the Army one against then Lions’ quarterback Christian Hackenberg and that was to rush three and drop back eight. Snow forgot one thing. Hackenberg did not then and does not now like to get hit and, by giving Hackenberg extra time in the pocket, he was able to pick out receivers at will. Snow did not make the same mistake a second time last year and, except for one three-man rush (that resulted in a Nate D. Smith sack), he kept the pressure on all day and the Owls had an NCAA-high 10 sacks. They don’t need 10, but if they get five against rookie quarterback Trace McSorley, they will win. Game film shows he almost always fakes on the read-option before passing, so having two blitzers, one assigned for McSorley, the other going to the running back, would mess up the timing.


Sharif … may be running with the 2s, but always makes big plays.

  1. Stopping Barkley

Last year, Penn State fans said the reason Temple won was because James Franklin gave Saquon Barkley only one carry. What they forget is that it was for minus-1 yard. The Owls are going to have to close up the A gaps and nose guard Averee Robinson is going to have to handle the Penn State center, which he is more than capable of doing. If the Owls have the same kind of success against Barkley that they did a year ago, he will have minus-25 yards. All they have to do to win, though, is the same job they did against Notre Dame standout C.J. Prosise, holding him to 25 yards on 14 carries.  Six of Prosise’s runs went for zero yards against many of the same players Barkley will face on Saturday. Is Barkley good? Yes. Is he better than Prosise? Probably not.


Expect the Owls to pull out all the stops.

  1. Moving Jahad Around

Jahad Thomas might start on Saturday at running back after missing the first two games with a thumb injury. Moving Thomas around like a shell in a shell game is key to utilizing him. He should get a few carries, but splitting him out into the slot when, say, Jager Gardner is in the game and hitting him with a deep ball would give the Owls two breakaway threats in the game at once, not one. Also, Thomas is a terrific runner in space so getting him the ball on screens, traditional or bubble, creates that space for him. Jahad got hurt again in practice Tuesday; if he can’t go, I would put Jager Gardner in as the lead back. Always felt Jager had the higher upside over Ryquell Armstead, who is more steady but less spectacular. Use Marshall Ellick as the edge playmaker.

  1. Dynamo Nicky

On a 17-yard run against Stony Brook where he knocked over four defenders, Nick Sharga reminded the old time Temple fans of former Owl and Cleveland Brown running back Henry Hynoski who was known as Dynamo Hyno at Temple. He reminded current Owl fans of why he wears a single digit as one of the nine toughest guys on the team. Call Sharga Dynamo Nicky until the press comes up with a better name. Pitt fullback George Aston hurt the Nittany Lions with a couple of touchdown runs up the middle against the soft underbelly of that defense. Sharga is also capable of exploiting that fatty tissue and he’s better than Aston.


Owls will have to fly to the ball again.

  1. Rolling The Pocket

Phillip Walker is better when he’s on the run because that’s where he creates major headaches for defenses. When offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas has rolled the pocket for Walker, opposing linebackers and safeties come up to stop the threat of a run and Walker deftly tosses the ball over their heads as Temple receivers run free through the secondary. If the linebackers stay back, Walker can use his athleticism and speed to gain big yards on the run. By keeping him in the pocket in the first game, Glenn Thomas was doing Army a favor. When he’s in the pocket, he can’t see downfield and his passes are often deflected by linemen or, worse, he’s sacked. It’s time to unleash Walker by moving the pocket.

Tomorrow: Watch Parties

Friday: The Rivalry Arrives


9 thoughts on “5 Keys For Beating Penn State

  1. I think the 3 real keys are :
    1. No turnovers.
    2. Minimize penalties
    3. Win on special teams. Dont give up any big plays. Have 2 or 3 big plays of our own.

    I am not so much worried about out D vs PSU O, or our O vs PSU D. Do those 3 things, and we win the game.

    • Those are pretty much generic keys to winning any football game. When I write my five keys posts, I try to be game specific as if I was breaking down both Temple and Penn State game film. Our punting and our placekicking have been fantastic, by the way.

  2. JT, Colin Thompson, and V Bryant are out. Our OL can’t pass protect, and our QB struggles to complete >50% of passes from the pocket.., PSU will score early and often. The new PSU OC owns Phil Snow..,

    ECU, Tulane, and Cincy are significantly improved from last year and we have taken a step back.., re-calibration of our expectations is required…, we are last in the conference in total offense and will be w/o our starting TE and star RB against PSU.., not sure we’ll score a TD on Saturday

    getting back to a bowl game will make for a successful season..,

  3. Thomas reportedly injured his hand again in practice. 😟

    • which Temple stat line is more likely:

      17-25, 256 yds, 2 TDs/0 Ints, or

      12-28, 177 yds, 0 TDs/2 Ints

      the best news about this season so far is MR has realized the benefits of playing freshmen are greater than red-shirting…, Top 25 teams play more freshmen than they redshirt.., Houston has played 10 freshman this year

    • Wouldn’t that be great if that was a staged ruse by Rhule to fool everyone? It’s time for either Armstead or Gardner to step up. All I’ve been hearing is how great Armstead was in the off-season. I’m not seeing it in games. When Gardner comes in, that’s a home-run threat. I do see him going the distance. I see Armstead as a 5-7-yard gain type back. Like to see more of Gardner. (Talking about Phil’s comment on JT’s injury here. As far as the stat line, roll that pocket and the stat line gets better. I was horrified by Glenn Thomas trying to turn Russell Wilson into Matty Ice the Army game. P.J. is more Russell than Matty. Move him around the pocket.)

  4. Bring back PJ Walker, this Phillip guy has been somewhat underwhelming.

  5. It looks like a long season my friends. Unless our defense learns to stop someone it is a five win season at best.

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