Temple football: You are here

You’ve seen those maps in every mall in the country, an arrow pinpointing your location with the words: “You are here.”

In Temple football’s case, “here” means simply this: You have a football team with a winning defense and a losing offense, and the faster you can match one with the other, the better the shopping haul for wins will be.

At some point, the defensive players will ask themselves, maybe subconsciously, what is the point of busting our ass if the offense isn’t going to help out?

Maybe the play on that side of the ball erodes as well.

What’s abundantly clear, though, is that the “easy” part of the season is over. It only gets tougher from here on out. The Owls weren’t competitive when it mattered against Duke and maybe the good effort against Rutgers wasn’t as impressive as originally thought. UMass almost beat Eastern Michigan (which did beat Arizona State) so the Owls getting 28 points on that team was encouraging.

The remaining Temple schedule

Temple is significantly better than it was a year ago but so is the rest of the AAC. The UCF team that Temple faces next hung with a good Louisville team and blew out a Georgia Tech team that just beat Pitt.

Navy, which lost to Memphis by a worse score than Temple did, follows UCF.

After that comes a Friday home game against Tulsa, which played competitive games against two ranked teams, Ole Miss (35-27) and Cincinnati (31-21). Then a home game against USF, a visit to Houston, home against Cincy and East Carolina.

It’s hard to find more than two wins left on that schedule and, even then, those two wins figure to be a battle well into the fourth quarter.

“Rock Steadwell?” Toddy Centeio with the key block here.

The offense–which has some explosive players (Adonicas Sanders, Amad Anderson, Quincy Patterson, for example, produced at places like GT, Purdue and Virginia Tech before coming to Temple)–needs to get the ball in the hands of those guys and others in space. It needs to establish a representative running game to keep its freshman quarterback from getting killed and create space for playmakers.

Easier said than done.

Temple has some time to figure that out but the Owls have only 10 days to get significantly better than what they showed two days ago or the results of this season will be about the same as the last one.

You don’t need a map to remind you that wasn’t a good place to be.

Friday: Possible solutions

TU Offense: Most predictable in college football

One of the many “trick plays” that put Temple football on the college football map.

Any Joe Blow who watched Temple football over the first five games can tell you three things:

If D’Wan Mathis is in the game at quarterback, expect a fumble. If E.J. Warner is in the game, expect a pass. If Quincy Patterson is in the game, expect a run.

That’s called telegraphing a play.

The “original” Philly special

If Samuel Morse was still around today, he’d be the Temple offensive coordinator. (Inventor of the telegraph for those who don’t know.)

Former Temple running back Sid Morse (who then play-by-play guy Don Henderson called “Morris”) probably would do a better job than Danny Langsdorf.

That is a shame because as good a job D.J. Eliot is doing as defensive coordinator, that’s more than negated by the poor job Langsdorf has done as offensive coordinator.

You can add the “swing and gate” jet sweep (see above video)

There used to be a time when Temple would dictate the narrative on offense.

When Al Golden was head coach, the Owls used a jump pass to the tight end to win a game at the fake Miami. (Little did we know at the time Golden would become head coach at the real Miami.)

Also with Golden in charge, Adam DiMichele used a fake kneel down to throw a touchdown pass in the waning seconds of the first half at Navy.

Under Matt Rhule, Temple changed the momentum in a 27-10 win over Penn State with the first “Philly Special”–a pitch from then quarterback P.J. Walker to former high school quarterback John Christopher (a Temple wide receiver) who found Walker for a key first down. The Owls were down, 10-0, at the time and that play changed the whole game.

When the Eagles used the same play in the Super Bowl, Doug Pederson said “we got the play from watching a college game.”

He never gave credit to Temple. That’s not cool, Doug, so we hope you lose Sunday.

The real sad thing is that Temple has players with unique skills suited to what current head coach Stan Drayton calls “gadget plays.” Mathis can throw the ball on the reverse or a double pass. Running back Trey Blair is more than capable of a halfback pass.

“You want, North Philly, North Philly?”

Five games in, Drayton nor Langsdorf has taken advantage of those unique skills. No halfback pass. No double pass. No pass off a reverse. No pass off a fake kneel down. No jump pass to the tight end. No shovel pass to a running back in the red zone.

No nothing.

Instead, what every Joe Blow knows every highly paid coach in America knows and that’s probably why Temple is having a tough time scoring points right now.

Temple has a couple of choices. It can put Patterson in the game and have him throw (UCF won’t expect that) or it can jump-start an offense whose battery is dead by drawing up innovative plays.

Or it can keep what it has been doing and hope to win games by field goals.

That’s not a good plan. Eleven days to dictate the narrative on offense or keep up with the failed plan of the first five games.

Even Joe Blow can tell Temple that. We will find out soon enough if the Edberg-Olson brain trust is listening or has intentionally put fingers in their ears.

Monday: AAC Landscape

Temple offense: Time to take off the gloves

Temple running back Trey Blair throws a couple of damn good passes in this 2017 video.

There are three major computer-simulated websites that supposedly put in all the known data and come up with a final score for your weekend college football games.

The most accurate one beats the Vegas point spreads 9.6 percent of the time and has made a lot of, err, investment strategists big-time money.

That one has the final score of tomorrow’s Temple at Memphis game (noon, ESPNU) 37-26 in favor of the bad guys.

Must admit that one has me scratching my head a little bit because I’ve watched all eight games involving both teams and I don’t see: a) Temple scoring 26 points OR b) Memphis scoring 37 points in this one.

First, Temple’s defense has shown signs of being ahead of the offense. Holding Duke to two field goals in the second half was impressive and the 14 points against Lafayette were off turnovers. In addition, holding a Big 10 team to no offensive touchdowns indicates that the Owls might have something here and could hold Memphis in the 20-point area.

Or less.

That’s where the rub comes into play.

Our picks this week

The key point is all of the “known data.” What we don’t know, at least from a Temple perspective, is how willing Stan Drayton wants to show a hand he has not so far this season.

The so-called trick play.

Drayton alluded to as much in his AAC pre-game press conference Monday when he said “outside of the gadget plays” he doesn’t know what former quarterback D’Wan Mathis’s contributions could be to the offense.

Just by saying “outside of the gadget plays” indicates that the word “gadget” has entered Drayton’s mind. If you are Memphis right now, you are probably thinking this: E.J. Warner tosses a backward pass to Mathis, who draws the corners inside so much that Adonicas Sanders is running free down the sideline. Mathis tosses it and Temple gets six.

If you are Memphis, you might think that.

What might Temple think that Memphis isn’t?

How about this?

Warner tosses a backward pass to Mathis, who throws it across the field to Trey Blair–a former damn good high school quarterback–who finds David Martin-Robinson wide open over the middle (because the free safety bit on the fake) for six.

Memphis probably doesn’t know Blair was a quarterback but certainly knows Mathis was. That would involve thinking one step ahead of the bad guys.

Memphis has no idea that Trey Blair can throw a pass. That’s the best reason for him to do so tomorrow. (If you are a Memphis coach, he’s wearing No. 10.)

It would also involve taking the gloves off both figuratively and literally.

First, Blair has worn gloves on every single one of his plays as a running back this season. He needs to come in for at least a few plays before the gadget without wearing those gloves and run a couple of times to sell the play. The reason is simply that you can’t throw as good a pass with gloves on as you can with them off.

It’s worth a shot.

In a game where I see in the 24-17 range either way, a trick play–what Drayton calls a “gadget” play–might make a difference. We know what gadget play Memphis might be expecting. We guess they aren’t expecting double-trickery.

What Temple’s offense did not show anyone, including the simulated computers, has been innovation on offense.

This game might be a good place to start.

It’s time to take the gloves off and throw the computer for a loop that could blow a fuse or two.

Picks this week: Like four favorites and two underdogs. The four favorites are Fresno State to cover the 23.5 at UConn, NIU the 3.5 at Ball State, Ole Miss the 6.5 against visiting Kentucky and Kent State the 11 against visiting Ohio. The dogs are Navy getting 15 at Air Force and UMass getting 20 against an EMU team that gave up 50 to Buffalo last week.

Last week: 2-3 against the spread. Update: A 2-3 week (missed a push in the Kansas game by a point). Won on JMU and Rice and lost on Memphis, Duke and Eastern Michigan. That puts us at 7-7 for the season.

Late Saturday: Game Analysis

Monday: AAC Reaction

Temple football: Work in progress

One of the recurring themes of every Stan Drayton press conference is that the Temple football Owls are a work in progress.

That’s usually what happens when the last owner of the house put a propane tank in the driveway, tossed a match over his head and did his darndest to blow up the whole place down before taking the keys in his pickup truck and driving home to Illinois.

The key stat in football is turnovers and TU won that battle

Drayton’s Owls rolled up their sleeves and swept some of the embers out of the driveway in the second half of a 30-0 loss to Duke, laid a nice foundation in a win over Lafayette, and started to put up a few sturdy walls in a 16-14 loss to Rutgers.

What happened on Saturday in a 28-0 win over UMass represented some nice windows and a front door.

Next week, maybe the roof gets put on in Memphis. This is real work, not a pre-fab job, so maybe we as fans are expecting too much, too soon.

What is apparent, though, is that any win in college football is pure Gold and the Owls mined a couple of nuggets on Saturday.

Ask Miami (Fla.), which lost to Middle Tennesee State. The Hurricanes are spending $8 million per year on Mario Cristobal (after eating $14 million of Manny Diaz’ contract) and their return on investment is questionable at best. I imagine those Cane fans are nowhere near as satisfied today as Temple fans are.

Progress is the operative word here.

Temple ate $6 million on the arsonist’s contract and is paying Drayton $2 million per.

The trend appears that Temple might be getting more ROI than Miami by the end of the season, but we shall see.

There were at least a couple of good signs on Saturday.

One, their really good tight end, David Martin-Robinson, made his first appearance of the season and was a factor in the success of both the run and the passing game.

Two, the defense posted the first Temple shutout since 2016 (three that year). If that weren’t a good-enough sign, Temple won the AAC championship that year.

As work days go, not perfect but more got done on Saturday than on the other three work days. They finally got the turnovers they needed but there remains a lot of work to be done in their own running game. That piece looked a lot better when Quincy Patterson came in at quarterback.

A week from now, the Owls will be facing a Memphis team in revenge mode so maybe that day won’t be as productive as this one.

That won’t stop the Owls from building and, if they hammer fast enough, they could get a presentable front porch done by the end of the week. If they win, they can set up the grill and party on it once the final seconds tick off.

Monday: Optics

No such thing as a moral victory … but

Stopped at Vincent’s Pizza in Rockledge on the way home from the Temple game on Saturday and a couple of young girls at the counter looked at my Temple Football Forever T-Shirt.

One of them said: “Were you at the Temple game today?”


Not much to choose between these two teams.

“We were too. We were at the student tailgate. It was so much fun. We only saw a little of the game because we had to get back to work here.”

“Good. I hope you guys are fans for life like me.”

“Oh we are.”

That was their first Temple football game. It was my, by rough estimation, 612th going back to the time I split as a grade school youngin between Penn and Temple football games.

When Wayne Hardin came to Temple, I gave up the Penn fandom altogether.

One school in Philadelphia had the best coach in college football and it wasn’t Penn.

Sometimes the lifelong fandom comes as much in a loss at much as a win. I’ve always said there is no such thing as a “moral victory” but maybe an exception came in a 16-14 loss to unbeaten Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.

A lot of Rutgers fans said they were going to “take over” Lincoln Financial Field. Far from it. There were at least 70 percent Temple fans there, as one of their “honest” fans said.

These Rutgers fans were on the money.

More importantly, Temple was without its best offensive lineman (Adam Klein), best linebacker (Tra Thomas) and two top running backs (Texas A&M transfer Darvon Hubbard and Illinois transfer Jakari Norwood) and played Rutgers to a virtual standoff.

Of course, a real standoff is preferable to a virtual one but the point is all of those guys will be back for the more important conference games.

The Owls were in this game against a Big 10 foe until the very end and there are a couple of “should-have, would-have” plays both fan bases can point to as keys. On the RU end, Temple’s first play from scrimmage should have been a pick 6. On the Temple side, Nathan Stewart dropped a perfectly thrown touchdown pass from E. J. Warner.

Stuff happens. A few plays here and a few plays there make the difference.

On the way out of the stadium, Tony Russo–Anthony Russo’s dad–tapped me on the shoulder. Anthony Russo is one of the top four quarterbacks, statistically, in Temple history. He was 6-4. Warner, as a 6-footer, can’t be blamed for not picking up the danger that lay ahead in a real Pick 6.

“I really like E.J. Warner,” I told him, “but if he was 6-4 like Anthony, he wouldn’t have given up the pick 6. He would have seen over the defense.”

“He’s going to be a real good player here,” Tony Russo said.

“Yeah, I think you’re right.”

Pretty good endorsement from the dad of a former player. Kurt Warner should have been there to hear it.

Minus that play, Temple wins, but it shouldn’t have come down to that.

Temple had a nice little drive going from its own 10 in the final four minutes that would have set up Rory Bell to be the hero with a field goal.

About the second play in, I was hoping for Stan Drayton to throw the halfback pass. All the mental telepathy fell on deaf ears sadly. I think it would have worked. Trey Blair, his halfback, was a terrific quarterback in high school. Pitching it out to Blair might have suckered in the RU defense just enough that Blair could have found a wide-open Adonicas Sanders behind the defense for the win.

Maybe Drayton didn’t know Blair played quarterback in high school or maybe he’s saving that play for a conference game that puts him in the championship. My guess is that the new Temple OC doesn’t realize Blair was a damn good high school quarterback and the play was not in the books.

Hardin would have thrown that halfback pass against Rutgers. Maybe it would have worked, maybe it wouldn’t but he wouldn’t have left it on the table knowing it might have worked.

Moral victories meant even less to him but if Rutgers turns out to be the best team on the Temple 2022 schedule and the Owls use that to win the rest, this will be only “moral victory” we’ve ever seen at Temple.

Monday: Legacy Analysis

The ONE thing certain to shock Rutgers fans

The Temple fan experience will be a lot closer to this 2015 Homecoming Game than any recent one.

There’s a prevalent notion among Rutgers fans that Lincoln Financial Field is somehow “holding back” tickets because there are so few sections available for Saturday’s game.

Conspiracy theories abound but no one in Piscataway has come up with the correct answer. At least not among the literally hundreds of posts about the subject.

A couple of recent Homecoming Crowds: Last year for a 3-9 team, Temple drew 28,564 for the Memphis Homecoming win and, in 2019, the Owls drew 34,253  for another Homecoming win over Memphis. If the Owls get even 30,000 of their own fans and 15,000 Rutgers fans attend, the attendance for this game could push 45,000.

The answer simply is this: The sections that are not available are Temple sections because it’s Temple’s Homecoming. Temple might not win on Saturday, but on the trip back home, the honest Rutgers fans will no doubt reach one conclusion.

“There were a lot more Temple fans there than I thought would be there.”

There are plenty of reasons for this. One, since Matt Rhule started winning in Year Three of his tenure, the SMALLEST crowd for Homecoming was last year (28,564) because the fan base was shellshocked by the 1-6 Rod Carey COVID season of 2020. That crowd was still pretty loud and the atmosphere lifted one of the worst Temple teams of the past decade to a win over Memphis.

Temple beats Cincinnati in this 2018 Homecoming Game.

There seems to be a notion in North Jersey that Rutgers fans are somehow going to “take over” Lincoln Financial Field. While it was true back in 2012 when Steve Addazio was head coach of a LOSING Temple team, it does not figure to be true now.

That RU-TU game was NOT Temple’s Homecoming and that Temple team was on the way to a 4-7 season.

Temple Homecoming crowds generally average about 10,000 more than the other five home games. At least the last half-dozen HC games or so.

The best Rutgers’ fans can hope for is a 50-50 split, even though the numbers now indicate from the sections available that the Temple side is nearly sold out and it would probably be a 60/40 Temple lean.

Allentown (Pa.) nightly news anchor Rob Vaughn (the Jim Gardner of the Lehigh Valley), comments on last year’s HC crowd.

The Stan Drayton hire seems to have energized the fan base and probably the kind of atmosphere fans can expect is the Homecoming Game of 2015 (see above video). Plus, it’s Dr. Jason Wingard’s induction as Temple President and there are a lot of pre-game ceremonies planned for more than a year for this day. Temple people who see one football game a year will be at this one.

RU has never been to the Linc for a Temple Homecoming, at least since the program was revitalized by Al Golden and Matt Rhule. It literally is the ONLY game a lot of fans come to every year and that in and of itself guarantees a large Temple contingent. Temple has had its attendance troubles, but never on this one day a year. You cannot expect the average Rutgers fan understands that data. That seems to fuel a lot of misconceptions about what the size of the Temple crowd will be from a North Jersey perspective.

The only sections available on the Temple season ticket side are two at the club level.

The fact that this is a regional rival suggests there is even more Temple interest in this game than the two most recent Homecoming wins against Memphis or even the 2018 Homecoming win over a Cincinnati team that came in with a 6-0 record.

Will Rutgers bring the most impressive visiting fan contingent in the last half-dozen years? No doubt. Is Rutgers taking over the Linc?

That’s a notion certain to be disabused by late Saturday afternoon.

Friday: Temple-Rutgers Preview

TU-Lafayette: Warts and All

An old friend of mine who was able to get into the locker room after Temple’s 30-14 win over Lafayette on Saturday noticed something odd about the celebration.

“A little over the top, if you ask me,” he said. “I mean, I’ve seen some pro teams celebrating championships that were compatible. It was Lafayette, after all.”

I told him that’s the half-empty way of looking at it.

The half-full way is this:

First, Temple had the second-longest losing streak in the country going into the game and finally shook that monkey off its back. That had to fuel the intensity of the celebration.

Two, the team has bonded with the new coach, Stan Drayton, the way it never did with the prior coach and had to revel in Drayton’s special first win.

Three, the Lafayette piece might be over exaggerated because a year and a week ago the same Leopards’ team traveled to Colorado and played to a similarly respectable 35-14 score against Air Force. A year ago, the Falcons beat Navy (23-3), Boise State (24-17) and Louisville (31-28).

Prior to that, last September, that was a Falcon team that came into the game a 40.5-point favorite against a Lafayette team that last year was not quite as good as this year’s version.

By comparison, this year’s Temple team was an 18.5-point favorite over Lafayette early last week but that line dropped to 13.5 by game time.

Even a 10-3 Air Force team wasn’t able to blow out Lafayette and that USAF team is considerably better than this Temple team (or even this year’s Rutgers team for that matter).

That’s not to say the Owls should be excused for their numerous warts but there were enough smooth spots to be encouraged.

Temple took care of business 92 years ago against a Lafayette team that tied Penn State, beat Rutgers, and had a winning season. Not quite the same result two days ago but a win is a win.

It’s hard to beat any team, FBS or FCS, losing four fumbles and that’s a part of the game Temple needs to rectify going forward.

This was not the Wagner of last year Temple played. Wagner has now lost 22-straight games and has the longest losing streak in FCS. Lafayette is a legitimate contender for the Patriot League title with Holy Cross, a team that beat Buffalo on Saturday night. 

Who knows would have happened if the Owls had taken care of the ball better or had they remained with the run after Darvon Hubbard ripped off 50 yards on four-straight carries? For some reason, the Owls decided that throwing the ball four-straight times after that success was a good idea. 

Maybe they were on their way to a 66-7 type win like the one Rutgers had over Wagner. Maybe not.

We will never know but they held Lafayette to just 110 total yards and that has to mean something. Also meaning something is that De’Von Fox broke the Temple record of blocked punts in one game with three. Update: According to Shawn Pastor of OwlsDaily.com, Sharif Finch had two blocked punts against East Carolina in 2015. What Fox’s performance and the overall tightness of that part of the game means is that special teams, which Al Golden (correctly) said is a third of your team is now that important again.

That means a lot because the prior guy didn’t think it meant 1/100th of a team.

It should also mean something that a 10-3 Air Force team of a year ago wasn’t able to do much better and that’s a half-full glass worth raising. At least at the Rutgers’ pre-game tailgate.

Wednesday: Temple’s Homecoming Crowds

E.J. Warner: Temple Underdog

Who knew the possible sequel might involve Temple?

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!”


Kurt, E.J. and Brenda Warner on signing day.

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.

Brian Krulikowski and Kurt Warner.

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

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

The Compelling Case for Quincy Patterson

After about five straight years of heading up to the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” show, which had been a fun day trip every summer, I heard a familiar number five minutes after finishing the test.

There were about 200 dreamers there in June of 2011.

The show producer said “we have only two people who passed the test. Number 16 and No. 54.”

Fifty-four, that was me. I raised my hand.

Not shocked because I thought I got every question right on the 30-question grid except the one about rap music.

Then I went through an interview–sitting at a table in the front of the ABC-TV commissary and answering questions– and they said they’d call.

They never did.

I found out the reason much later. On a Reddit board dedicated to the show, someone who said she once “worked for the program” explained the interview process.

“We wanted only overly excited people,” she said. “If you weren’t jumping up and down, basically we never called. You had to show you really loved the game. If you acted like you were there for us to give you a million, we’d pass on that person.”

Patterson beat a North Carolina team that held Temple to just 13 points.

That was me. Not overly excited, just wanted the chance at the million bucks.

I thought about this story the other night after watching D’Wan Mathis play quarterback at Temple for the eighth time.

Eight is enough.

D’Wan Mathis just looks like he’s out there to get a chance at a million bucks if the NFL calls somewhere down the road. Not overly excited about playing the game itself. After Duke took a 7-0 first-quarter lead, Temple had seven second-quarter possessions and Mathis led them to six three-and-outs. Game, set and match.

The hard lesson I learned and I hope Mathis does is that you DO have to be overly excited to even get the chance at a million bucks but that’s just not his personality. Nor mine.

Nothing wrong with that but quarterback is a position where you need a fiery leader, someone who doesn’t settle for three-and-outs. Someone who instead of throwing the ball away on third down with an open lane ahead of him, takes off and runs and buys his teammates three more downs.

Mathis hasn’t been that person at either Georgia or Temple.

Quincy Patterson has been that at both Virginia Tech and North Dakota State. At least more than Mathis has in two places.

That’s one of the reasons Patterson needs to be the starter against Lafayette on Saturday.

If the Duke game were the outlier, that would be one thing. Of Mathis’ eight Temple starts, his one good one last year (Memphis) appears to be the outlier. No Temple starter since Chester Stewart or maybe Vaughn Charlton has started a career with this many three-and-outs. Temple had no other options then.

It does now.

Starting Mathis again on Saturday against Lafayette would be Fool’s Gold. He could look great in that game and lay an egg against Rutgers a week later. To be honest, Mathis did not look all that great against Wagner last year.

Starting Patterson could be doubly beneficial for the Owls. He gets a warmup game for Rutgers and has a chance to rally the team around his personality so it spreads to the rest of the Owls and gives them a better chance at winning the Homecoming game. Right now, the team has taken on Mathis’ lackluster on-field personality and that kind of malaise can be a poison pill.

Wanting to be a millionaire is one thing but you can’t get there if you aren’t jumping up and down for the opportunity. After eight games, we know that much about Mathis. Stan Drayton shouldn’t have to wait for eight more before reaching that same conclusion.

Friday: Lafayette preview