Nowhere can June 11 be found on the Temple football calendar but it recently became one of the most important days of the year.
That’s when the City of Philadelphia gave the go-ahead for “capacity” crowds at Lincoln Financial Field.
Or capacity such as it has meant for Temple football in the past, meaning sellouts for opponents like Notre Dame and Penn State and about half or less capacity for the others.
That means full tailgating in Lot K before the game.
In the months up to the city’s announcement, there was a lot of angst and speculation and more of the former rather than the latter.
What was Temple football 2021 going to look like, if not on the field than certainly in the stands or in the parking lots. There was a real fear as recently as prior to spring practice that there would be no tailgating and limits on the crowds.
Now we have a better idea of what football is going to be like and that appears to be a return to 2019 from a pre-game point of view, socializing and no masks and burgers on the barbie and brews in the coolers.
As far as on the field, that light at the end of the tunnel that looked like an oncoming train just might be a little bit of sunshine after all.
Rod Carey has paid no (none, zero, nada) to special teams for the two years he’s been here but now, with the addition of preferred walk-on Noah Botsford it looks like the Owls are at least trying to build a special teams ark. The punter and placekicker comes with real bonafides.
Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming describes Botsford “as consistent as they come” and “big-time” and says Botsford has a range of 52 yards, getting better than closer he is to the goal post.
Since Aaron Boumerhi was allowed to walk to Boston College (supposedly told by Carey that he couldn’t guarantee his scholarship), the Owls’ placekicking game has been an unmitigated disaster. Will Mobley was reliable from only extra-point range but even then the block of his extra point was returned for two points in a 15-13 loss to Cincinnati was a killer. IF that would have had it been executed correctly it meant given a 14-13 win for the Owls against a team that beat Boston College, 37-13, later that year in a bowl game.
Before Boomer, the Owls had reliable long-distance field goal specialists like Austin Jones and Brandon McManus. Way back before that it was guys like Cap Poklemba, Billy and Bob Wright, Jim Cooper Sr. (not Jr.), Don Bitterlich and Nick Mike-Mayer. One kicker doesn’t fix special teams (Owls still have to relearn how to block and return kicks) but that kind of leg certainly helps.
That was always an area where Temple fans put on auto pilot.
The last two years have been more like demolition derby.
Could Carey addressing an area of need like kicker be an indication that special teams now becomes a priority? Maybe, maybe not, but Lemmings description of “as dependable as they come” reminds me more of the way it was with guys like Jones and McManus.
So maybe that light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train after all. One way or another, all of us will find out in person soon enough.
Friday: Five Memorable Lines