Lafayette: The game Temple needs

Stan Drayton went easy on his squad in the post-game but I guarantee you a lot of Temple fans were thinking this after the FIRST half on Friday night.

Anyone who has followed this space over the years knows our position on playing FCS teams.

Simply this: Power 5 teams can afford the body bag games but Group of Five teams looking to move up can’t. They must recruit to beat P5 teams, schedule them, and beat them.

It’s a hard road but it’s the only way a G5 team will ever find the P5 Promised Land.

For those staying at home, the Temple game will be on ESPN+ at 2 p.m. Saturday.

All that said, though, after last week, Lafayette might not be the game Temple wants but it most certainly is the game Temple needs right now. Nine months of optimism pretty much went out the window for much of the fan base after Duke handled the Owls, 30-0, on Friday night.

This wasn’t Bama, Georgia, Ohio State or even Vanderbilt. It was Duke, perhaps with Northwestern the worst P5 team a year ago. The Temple players and coaching staff might not be shellshocked but certainly a significant part of the fan base is.

Our picks this week, going with all underdogs to cover except UTSA, who we like to win by at least a FG at Army.

The expectations for Saturday’s game against the Leopards range from a Delaware State-type of beatdown (59-0) to roughly a 21-7 Owl survival. Those few thinking it will be a 50/50 ball should relax. There is only one player on Lafayette who COULD start for Temple but he’s a very good one in 6-3, 246-pound defensive end Malik Hamm, who is a four-time All-Patriot first-team lineman.

We will say this. Hamm needs to have about 20 sacks in this game for the Leopards to have any chance of winning. He has 23.5 for his career. He wears No. 99. He should be easy to find. Run away from him and the Owls should be good.

To be honest, maybe a few of the players have a slight case of shellshock, too, after nothing the coaching staff did against Duke worked. There was too much East/West running, too few North/South plays and no passes of any significant distance. Getting a very good blocking tight end, David Martin-Robinson, back (he’s day-to-day) should help. It might also benefit the Owls to put Adam Klein at center and use both Victor Stoffel and Isaac Moore at tackles to stabilize a shaky offensive line. This might be a game to make that experiment.

Malik Hamm would not only start at Temple, but be a pretty good player for the Owls who have to be wary of him Saturday.

Also, IF D’Wan Mathis starts (Drayton said on his radio show that competition is day-to-day), he must put points on the board. Drayton can’t keep rolling out a quarterback who consistently posts three-and-outs. It sends a bad message to the rest of the team.

Defensively, “simulated” pressure must become real pressure but that’s more for down the road and not Lafayette. The Owls figure to get numerous sacks from their regular front this Saturday.

No predictions of a score this week other than it must be time well-spent to get ready for the more significant challenges down the road.

Saturday Late Night: Game Analysis

PIcks Update: Went 3-2 against the spread. Won on UTSA barely covering the -2.5 at Army (winning, 41-38); won on App. State covering the +17 at Texas A&M (App State won outright); won on Duke covering the +9.5 at Northwestern (Duke won outright) and lost on Old Dominion at ECU and Wake at Vandy.

Last week: 3-2

YTD: 3-2