It’s almost fitting that Temple’s football team is playing next at Navy because, for them at least, the Navy term “all hands on deck” certainly comes to mind in this matchup against North Carolina.
In the Navy, all hands on deck usually is a call for ship hands to come to the deck in times of crisis.
For Temple, this is one of those times.
Last year left a bad taste in the mouths of just about every Temple football fan for a few reasons. One, it was the second time the Owls came in as a favorite over an ACC team and came away with a loss in the bowl game. Two, their best players–Ryquell Armstead on offense and Rock Ya-Sin on defense–decided to sit out the game with an eye on their futures. Three, in both instances their head coaches also decided to sit out the game for basically the same reason.
Nothing was a worse taste than being spanked, 56-27, and the Owls had to live with that taste in their mouths for nine months. They were up, 27-14, at halftime, and a steady diet of Armstead runs in the second half might not have secured the win but certainly would have avoided an embarrassing loss.
Now, all hands are on deck and the fans should be part of that equation, too, since the Owls have always drawn well in bowl games in the DMV area. Ten thousand Temple fans are not out of the question since the Owls drew a little over half of the 26,000 fans to the Wake Forest game in 2016.
The head coach, Rod Carey, isn’t going anywhere due mostly to a wisely negotiated $10 million buyout. One of the first promises Carey secured from senior leader Shaun Bradley was that no seniors would miss the bowl game this season.
That kind of commitment is vital to beating a good team like North Carolina. We’ll get into how good further in Friday’s post but, for now, suffice it to say that this is a much-better 6-6 ACC team than the last two 6-6 ACC teams Temple faced in losses.
The two times Temple was forced to play a bowl with half a hand it lost both games. The last two times Temple played with a full deck it won both.
Beating FIU and Wyoming did little to advance the Temple brand but beating North Carolina will advance the brand nationally so it’s a good sign that everyone in Philadelphia is committed to winning this time.
Friday: A First Look at North Carolina