Punxsutawney Phil woke up yesterday and did not see his shadow and that means an early spring football practice at Temple.
Or something like that.
In actuality, we knew spring practice would be earlier than usual a couple of weeks ago when it was announced that the Cherry and White game will be on April 4th instead of the usual third Saturday of that month.
While the practice schedule hasn’t been released yet, you’ve got to believe that the first full one will not be too much after March 1. Since February is a short month anyway, that’s right around the corner.
So the big question becomes: Is Temple better this spring than last spring?
Two months ago, we would have said unequivocally yes. A month ago? No.
Wednesday, after a late signing day that demands a center and a defensive end (and maybe a running back who can step in for Ray Davis if he goes down), the answer will probably be the same.
As of the writing of this post, former Miami defensive end Scott Patchan is still in the portal as is the best center in the portal, Michael Maietti, formerly of Rutgers. Patchan was the starter until NFL prospect Gregory Rousseau took his job and left when Quincy Roche arrived on campus.
So far, though, the Owls have decided to go in a different direction, picking up Emmanuel Walker, a DE from Wake Forest, and an offensive lineman from FCS, Michael Niese from Dayton. Nice pickups, but neither have the street cred or production level of Patchan or Maietti. Patchan was a starter at Miami; Walker never started at Wake. The other guy is making a jump from FCS to FBS and does not have the 33 Big 10 starts that Maietti has. Starting in the Big 10 is one thing. Starting in the Big 10 for Rutgers and still making the Rimington Watch List as the best center in the country is quite another. Temple would seem to have an in for Maietti since Don Bosco is not all that far away and the Owls did so much for another Don Bosco grad, Matt Hennessy.
From a pure production standpoint, even though both Walker and Patchan are grad seniors, Patchan has better numbers: 24 starts, 63 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. Walker, on the other hand, has played in 11 games with 19 tackles (five for losses) and two sacks. It’s an apples to apples comparison, too, as both have competed in the ACC over the same amount of years.
As of the publication of this post–a little after midnight on Feb. 3–both Patchan and Maietti are still available in the portal according to their respective twitter feeds. That could change later today or tomorrow, but most certainly by Wednesday.
Maybe the Owls never went after both. Maybe they did and were spurned but if, in the end, they come up with less of a portal haul than they could have, the team as a whole that got a lot worse losing Hennessy and Roche in early January didn’t do enough to replace them by February. If, however, adding Pachan and Maietti to a haul that includes Niese and Walker, that’s different.
That would mean an early spring practice will be a lot sunnier and warmer than we originally thought.
Friday: Post-signing Day Review