Temple at Duke: Confident, not cocky

Don’t bet your house, but taking Temple might get you another farm if you have a spare farm.

Given the dwindling number of Temple fans still living who spent a significant amount of time around the two most successful Owl major sports coaches in history (raising my hand here as one), it’s pretty apparent the general approach both would take tonight.

Defend and attack the known. Don’t worry about the unknown.

Wayne Hardin and John Chaney took that approach and, if Stan Drayton does tonight (ACC Network, 7:30 p.m.), I fully expect Temple to be a winner.

Don’t see Temple scoring 38 but certainly think the Owls outscore Duke by double digits.

Confident, not cocky. In other words, don’t bet the house but if you have a farm to spare, it’s worth the investment.

That’s because we don’t know a lot but we do know a couple of important things:

One, the Duke quarterback starter, Riley Leonard, has started exactly one FBS game in his career and is a three-star recruit.

Two, both Temple quarterbacks, starter D’Wan Mathis and backup Quincy Patterson, were four-star recruits. Between the two, those players have 17 college football starts, 10 at the FBS level. Patterson is 9-1 in all of his starts at the two levels.

Mathis rose to the occasion when Drayton brought in Patterson to compete with him in summer camp and is playing the best football of his career according to insiders who have watched every August practice. Put it this way, highly paid coaching staffs at Iowa State, Michigan State, Ohio State and Georgia evaluated Mathis and put their salaries on the line by offering scholarships to him. Mathis at one point accepted offers from all schools before bouncing around and ending up at Temple.

He can make plays with his arm and his feet. Big-time players make big-time plays and Mathis has that quality. Leonard, on the other hand, is a pro-style quarterback who might be a more stationary target for pass rushers than either Mathis or Patterson. Might? More like is.

Patterson, in one of his three FBS starts for Virginia Tech, put up 47 points in a wire-to-wire spectacular performance against a North Carolina team that held an eight-win Temple team to just 13 points.

On the flip side, Drayton has said the strength of the Temple team so far is a defensive line led by a very good coach in Antoine Smith. Last year, Smith’s Colorado State defensive line finished in the top 10 in sacks and Smith says this Temple line is more talented.

If this version of the “Wild Boyz” can get after Leonard, put him on the ground, separate him from the football and cause a couple of picks, I cannot envision a scenario where Temple loses this game.

When Temple won at Vanderbilt, 37-7, to open the 2014 season, relentless pressure by a defensive line led by Averee Robinson caused the Vandy quarterback to hear footsteps the entire game.

That Temple team was coming off a two-win season. This one is coming off a three-win season but is invigorated by the new coaching staff. This 2022 Duke game has a 2014 kind of Vandy vibe. This game could be a 24-21 type deal but I think the defensive pressure the Owls put on Leonard enables them to win the game rather comfortably.

That takes care of the defensive piece.

Offensively, you’ve got to like the two players Temple has holding the reins better.

In horse racing, if two horses have relatively the same odds, the play is to go for the one with the better jockey. It doesn’t work all the time but it’s a safer play.

Temple has two better jockeys than the one Duke has and that’s a significant known.

We don’t know a lot about this game but we know enough. We’re guessing Drayton does, too.

Temple 27, Duke 17.

Confident, not cocky.

You read it here first.

Tomorrow: Game Analysis

What Mathis being named starter means …

About this time five months ago, new Temple head coach Stan Drayton gave tepid praise to incumbent quarterback starter D’Wan Mathis, saying this:

“We’re going to bring in some guys to compete with him.”

If Mathis can become a fan favorite in Georgia, he can do that in Philadelphia too.

That was after the Cherry and White game. Nice game for Mathis, but nothing special.

True to his word, Drayton brought in those guys–Elijah Warner and former Virginia Tech starter Quincy Patterson–and, after a healthy competition, Mathis retained his job.

At least for the Duke opener.

Thursday, Mathis was named the starter for the Duke game one week from tonight and that can only mean one thing.

Former Michigan State, Ohio State, and Georgia commit D’Wan Mathis is shown here starting the 2020 opener for Georgia.

Mathis, a former Elite 11 four-star quarterback, rose to the occasion to beat out Patterson, a former Elite 11 four-star quarterback.

We’ve checked the game notes of the other 10 AAC teams and none of them have an Elite 11 quarterback.

Temple now has two.

Duke has none and that’s one reason why you’ve got to like Temple’s chances a week from now (7:30 p.m., ACC Network).

It’s not even fair to say Mathis showed flashes of his Elite 11 quality in the 2021 season.

He showed flash as in one, the Memphis game. If Mathis showed flashes, maybe the Owls steal a win or two in the other AAC games. It was a damn good flash (35-for-49, three touchdowns) but it was a one-and-done nonetheless.

We needed to see more and it’s an even better sign that Drayton needed to see more.

Now he has.

Maybe he’s a guy who needs a fire lit under him and, in Patterson, that’s a lot of lighter fluid.

Patterson went 7-0 as a North Dakota State starter last year and, except for Cincinnati, you can make a strong argument that North Dakota State would have beaten every other AAC team, including Houston and UCF.

He’s a nice insurance policy to have should Mathis falter.

So far, Mathis has shown no signs of faltering and that’s a good thing. This is the third-straight year that Mathis has won a starting job. He started for Georgia in the 2020 home opener and Temple in the 2021 opener at Rutgers, beating out another Elite 11 quarterback (Re’al Mitchell) for the honor.

Memphis was objectively a better team than Duke last year so is 35-for-49 and three touchdowns out of the question next week?

Certainly not and, if Mathis puts up those numbers again, the Owls are guaranteed to have a nice flight home.

Monday: All’s Quiet on The Southern Front

Friday: Temple-Duke Preview

Saturday: Duke Game Analysis