Driving home the other night, I turned on the Westwood One national radio broadcast of the Bills-Rams game to hear the best play-by-play guy in the business, Kevin Harlan.
After listening to the final minutes, Harlan signed off with this:
“Goodnight everyone and Let’s Go Temple and Let’s Go Kansas State!”
I was backing into the driveway when I heard that and almost knocked over two trash cans.
Obviously, the Temple reference was a tip of the cap to his color analyst, Kurt Warner, whose son plays at Temple.
Didn’t know until today that Warner also has a son with plays at Kansas State.
Warner’s laugh was the last thing I heard before the broadcast faded to silence.
The Warners, Kurt and Brenda, were at Kansas State vs. Missouri. After what their youngest son, E.J., did in a 30-14 win over Lafayette on Saturday, the Warners might be in Philadelphia this Saturday for the Rutgers’ game (2 p.m., Homecoming). He might even almost reunite with a former Arena League teammate, Brian Krulikowski, a pretty good former Owl player who is a regular at Temple tailgates.
Warner, who started the season at No. 3 in the depth chart. was the surprise No. 2 quarterback and, while he hasn’t saved the year yet, he undoubtedly saved the day.
There is no doubt in my mind had D’Wan Mathis remained in the game and continued his horrible and disinterested play, the Owls would have suffered a 2013-type Fordham defeat. As it is, Warner was more than a game manager. Unlike Mathis, he took care of the football. Unlike Mathis, whose instinct for self-preservation trumps team preservation, he stood in and took vicious hits on two nicely thrown touchdown passes.
How bad would it have been to lose to a Patriot League team?
Ask Buffalo, which lost to Holy Cross, 37-31, tonight.
We wrote in this space a few days ago that Mathis needed to be replaced. In my 40-plus years of watching Temple football, I have seen few more talented quarterbacks than Mathis, but never a player who looks like he wants no parts of getting hit or even being out there. For all of the limited ability of recent quarterbacks like Chester Stewart, Vaughn Charlton and Mike Gerardi, there can be no doubt that all were trying their best.
I’ve never gotten the same vibe from Mathis.
We thought the logical replacement would be Quincy Patterson, who was 7-0 as a starter at North Dakota State last year, and previously led Virginia Tech to a 43-41 win over North Carolina.
Little did we realize that E.J. Warner’s career has progressed so rapidly since joining the team.
No one should know about career advancement more than Warner’s dad, who was the subject of the very best movie I’ve seen in the last dozen months. American Hero is a superb account of Kurt’s rise from college to Arena League All-Star to NFL MVP.
Mind you, we’re not saying E.J. will be an NFL MVP like his dad but, for one day, he was a Temple Underdog and that’s worth some kind of sequel. If he beats Rutgers, Temple Underdog sounds like a box office hit.
Monday: Warts and All