TU-UConn: A case of de Ja Vu

If some of the old-timers like me felt a little bit of deja vu on Saturday, it could be understood.

The last time a lot of us remember Temple trailing at halftime and winning, 49-17, it was at Veterans Stadium and the year was 1979.

Head coach Wayne Hardin told me the story then.

“I turned to (defensive coordinator) Vince (Hoch) and said, ‘What do we do?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, coach, what do you think?”

Screenshot 2019-11-30 at 11.30.33 PM

Hardin thought about throwing the ball but instead decided to give the ball to a great running back from Coatesville named Sherman Myers. “Tank” scored five second-half touchdowns, then a Temple record, in a 49-17 win.

The difference between then and now?

That Syracuse team was one of only 30 bowl teams that year. So was Temple. Now there are 80 bowl teams in a watered-down college football landscape.

That Syracuse team had future NFL Hall of Famers Joe Morris and Art Monk.

I doubt that this UConn team will have a single future Hall of Famer and I know for certain that the Huskies are about as far away from a bowl as any program in the country.

The 49-17 score this time was cosmetic but it was pretty good makeup so the current Owls deserve a lot of credit for averting disaster. Call it lipstick on a pig.

Screenshot 2019-12-01 at 12.18.38 AM

When people all over the country see the final, they will think Temple took care of business the way Temple was expected to do so prior to the game as a 29.5-point favorite. What isn’t as noticeable in the boxscore is that UConn led for half of the game and Temple needs to play better if it is going to win a bowl game.

I talked to two former Temple quarterbacks (before the game) who shall remain nameless and mentioned to them that this offense is ill-suited to the talents of the best quarterback on the team, Anthony Russo. Temple needs to run the same offense with Russo it ran in the last two years with P.J. Walker. Ditch the spread and establish a power running game and only then throw off play-action fakes. They both said they are going to sit down with current head coach Rod Carey and take that argument to him.

Good luck with that because that’s really the only way Temple goes from 8-4 this year to 10-2 or better the next. This season went way too fast and Temple had way too much offensive talent to struggle to score 13 on Cincinnati last week.

Carey is going to have to be flexible, but there’s nothing in his history at Northern Illinois that suggests he’s anything but stubborn. Great coaches, though, design an offense that suits their talent and the next few months will tell if Carey is great or just good.

At Temple, just good won’t do.

Tuesday: Season Recap

Thursday: An Ideal Bowl Matchup


Game Day: Seniors and Sendoffs

Screenshot 2019-11-28 at 9.55.07 PM

By the luck of the draw of scheduling, the American Athletic Conference has given Temple the chore of sending off UConn in style.

The Owls are 29.5-point favorites and for good reasons. Rod Carey can probably run up the score on the Huskies if he chooses to do so and no one in the league offices would blame him.

Throwback Thursday: The infamous call at UConn

Bruce Francis’ TD catch to win the 2007 game was ruled incomplete by MAC refs but replay showed that Francis had a foot down and possession but the Big East replay official (Jack Kramer) refused to overturn the call in perhaps the most controversial ending of a Temple game in modern history.

Nor in the athletic offices over at the Star Complex on the campus of Temple University.

Temple was the team the then Big East decided to kick out of the league and UConn was the team that the league decided to replace the Owls with and, pretty much since then, Temple football has been on the ascent and UConn football pretty much on the decline. The year after Temple was kicked out, the Owls put up 56 on the Huskies in a game at Franklin Field that opened with Mac Fenton taking the kickoff to the house. That game finished 56-7.

Last year, the Owls did it one better, 57-7.

Even in the year the Huskies made the Fiesta Bowl, Temple hung a 30-16 number on the Huskies at Lincoln Financial Field.

UConn has told the league it no longer wants to play basketball in the conference but asked to continue playing football. It took Commissioner Mike Aresco all of about two minutes to essentially say: “We don’t want your crappy football program.”

So the Owls committing a program to the trash heap of college football with a big win today would be more than a fitting sendoff.

There is, though, a much more important chore at hand: Giving the seniors a big win in their final game at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls will lose perhaps the best three linebackers they’ve had on the same field in a long time: Shaun Bradley, Chapelle Russell and Sam Franklin. All played with a fierceness that benefited their single digits.

At the season ticket-holder party a couple of years ago, Russell sought me out like he seeks out quarterbacks but, instead of putting me on the ground hard, he extended his hand and said simply: “Thanks for coming.” I told him I thought the team would be a lot better than the projections and he responded: “We know it.”

Three years ago at the same function, Isaiah Wright and Linwood Crump Jr. were among the five people at my table. Wright called me “Mr. Mike” (I like that better than sir and Mr. Gibson) and asked me if I thought the stadium would be built by the time he was a senior. I said, “I don’t think so. Too much politics.” Sadly, it turned out I was right.

I’ll miss my yearly, albeit short, conversations with guys like Wright and Russell and what all of the seniors brought to the field during their careers. These guys deserve to see the Owls score early and often and, if Carey decides to run it up, nobody in the league office will get upset.

Sunday: Game Analysis

Tuesday: Regular Season Roundup

Thursday: Our Dream Bowl Matchup

Latest hit piece: Keep Temple’s name out of your mouth

Screenshot 2019-06-28 at 4.14.41 PM

No big fan of Donovan McNabb here, but his take on a controversy with Terrell Owens in 2005 applies to David Jones’ latest hit piece on Temple football almost 15 years later.

“Keep my name out of your mouth.”

Instead of “my” substitute “Temple’s” and it becomes a perfect retort.

Screenshot 2019-06-28 at 4.25.27 PM

Jones, who writes for Penn Live, had a strange take on UConn’s exit to the Big East (and apparent de-emphasis of football). He lumped UConn and Temple together, saying Temple should also de-emphasize football and insinuated that it should rejoin the A-10 at the expense of a football affiliation with the AAC.

That is a weak take on so many levels we’ll just concentrate on some here:

  • One, UConn is coming off a decade of failure in football while Temple has enjoyed a decade of sustained success.
  • Two, Temple is not trying to get into the P5. Sure, it would love a P5 invite but I think even the most optimistic Temple fans are not expecting one in the next decade. G5 football is a significant upgrade over FCS, though, and a proven spot where Temple can thrive. If Dave is saying the entire G5 should give up and drop to FCS, that’s one thing but I don’t think he’s saying that.
  • Three, Temple earned in addition to the millions off its AAC football contract, $6 million with the Manny Diaz buyout and $2.6 million with the Geoff Collins’ buyout. Rod Carey’s buyout is $10 million. Owls are not going to leave that money on the table by dropping to FCS.
  • Four, the AAC as currently constituted, is a better basketball conference than the A10 as currently constituted.

Why would Temple, which enjoys terrific football TV ratings and a steady uptick in football attendance, jeopardize any part of its football franchise to ostensibly prop up its basketball one?

I don’t know what his point was. Should Temple drop out of the G5 and the AAC even though it has the most regular-season league football wins since 2015? (More than UCF, Houston, Memphis and USF). That’s a little like the Dems asking Joe Biden to drop out before the first debate (although maybe he should drop out now after it). G5 is not big-time football but it’s certainly better for Temple than an A10 basketball/FCS football combo. (Good luck drawing flies in FCS football to the Linc.)

Plus, there is absolutely no assurance that investing in basketball at the expense of football would improve that product. Why not pursue excellence in the two marquee sports?

In college athletics, you can both walk and chew gum at the same time.

Temple can and should do both and ignore the haters who keep putting the Owls’ name in their mouths.

Monday: Our one week of vacation a year (and five best-of-TFF columns M-F)

July 8: A partnership that works

July 11: Roll call



UConn: Bye, Felicia!


My reaction over the weekend when it was leaked that the University of Connecticut would be leaving the AAC for the Big East was not unlike that Ice Cube gif (left).

Bye, Felicia!

Because no matter how much UConn huffed and puffed and tried to resuscitate its failing football program, the patient died as a result of some pretty bad administrative decisions. (Hiring a hot assistant doesn’t always work as Bob Diaco the assistant coach of the year for Notre Dame turned into a nightmare as a head coach for UConn.)

Really, what was the difference between what happened to Temple in 2003 and UConn now? The Big East then kicked Temple out for what it perceived to be (their words) “non-competitiveness” when, in reality, Temple was regularly beating some teams that the Big East decided to keep.

UConn was beating really nobody last year in football and its once dynamite men’s basketball program was in the middle of the league’s pack. (Hell, it’s now hard to pick out Geoff Collins’ worst loss: 2018 Villanova or 2017 UConn. Both times he played arguably the second-best quarterback on the team so it might be a toss-up.)

The AAC probably didn’t have the stones to kick out UConn like the Big East did to Temple back then so, in effect, what the UConn leaders did this week a favor to the AAC. There is no chance the league allows UConn to take out both of its good programs (men’s and women’s basketball) and leave its one crappy program (football).

Good riddance.

Temple, in my mind, belongs in the Power 5 but that doesn’t appear on the horizon soon and, failing that, we have to accept where we are now and UConn leaving the league improves our lot at least a little bit.

Now the American can add a team like BYU (not likely) or Buffalo/Army (more likely). They would have to figure out a way to flip the Army/Navy week and the league championship weeks and that might be an insurmountable hurdle. If so, then the league turns to Buffalo, which more fits the AAC profile of larger TV markets and has a program that is immediately ready to compete in the two highest-profile sports. AAC would have the top G5 market (Philadelphia, 4) plus Dallas-Ft. Worth (5), Washington D.C. (Navy, 9th), Tampa-St. Pete (USF, 13th), Orlando (UCF, 19th), Cincinnati (34th), Memphis (48th) and Buffalo (51) and New Orleans (Tulane, 53). That’s a lot of eyeballs.

Buffalo would be the logical choice, about the same distance away as UConn for Temple fans, and a current upgrade in both sports.

That should and will probably be the successful Northeast school that replaces the unsuccessful departed one.

Saturday: The Latest Hit Piece on Temple football

Monday: A Week of Best of TFFs



A Happy Ending

Sometime after Temple did not bother to challenge an obvious touchdown by Isaiah Wright at the end of the half, a long-time Owl fan sent this message on social media:

“This is sad.”

The fan was not referring to Temple eschewing a challenge and taking a field goal there, he was talking about the utter non-competitiveness of UConn.

My response was swift and definitive:

“Happy for me. Any time the good guys have a lot and the bad guys have a little, it is a great game.”

On Saturday afternoon, the good guys wore the white hats and won, 57-7.


This now becomes my second-favorite TU-UConn game (by a point).

It was reminiscent of an almost identical score in 2001 when Makonnan Fenton took a kickoff for 94 yards and a touchdown in a 56-7 win over a UConn team that was pegged to replace Temple in the Big East.

Wright went six more yards than Fenton did on his kickoff return, also the pivotal play (if there can be one in a 57-7 win).

You can have all the last-second exciting back-and-forth wins you want, give me a good Temple 57-7 win over that kind of excitement any Saturday of the week.

While the 56-7 win was a vindication that the Big East was getting rid of a far more competitive program for a less-competitive one, the 57-7 win becomes my favorite for reasons that extend far beyond that single point.


It vindicates the Owls as one of the premier programs in the stepchild of the Big East, the AAC, and comes at the end of a five-year bowl-eligible run for Temple

Really, since 2001, the odyssey in this space I’ve always wanted for Temple football is respect and the Owls now have that on a global level. Be bowl eligible every year, win a championship every few years, have everyone say what a tough team Temple is and that’s all we has Temple fans can ever hope for on a regular basis.


In between pounding 90 wpm on the laptop and making a post-game video, Marc Narducci got this capture of Anthony Russo hugging Toddy Centeio after Toddy touchdown scored his first TU touchdown and posted it on his twitter feed.

It certainly beats the 20-game losing streak and (mostly) 20 years of losing seasons that existed between 1989 and 2009. (Only the 7-4 team of 1990 broke what would have been a 20-year losing skein.)

More importantly, a culture of toughness has been established that existed once under Wayne Hardin and Bruce Arians and was only was later given recessitation by Al Golden.

Fair to great hirings by Bill Bradshaw (Golden, Steve Addazio, Matt Rhule) and one by Pat Kraft (Geoff Collins) kept that ball rolling. That ball looks like it will continue to roll for the next two years because the current sophomore and junior classes appear to be at least the equal of any of the best similar groups of the Bradshaw coaches. The Owls have a great quarterback, Anthony Russo, for the next two seasons and seem to have a succession plan in place after he leaves with Toddy Centeio and Trad Beatty waiting in the wings.

It could all blow up if the Owls do something stupid and follow the blueprint of bad coaching hirings established by, say, UConn but having a ex-Big 10 football player like Kraft doing the hiring probably precludes that. Collins seems to fit this school well, even if his offensive coordinator does not.

We learned a lot about the Owls this year. Mostly, that sad beginnings can lead to happy endings if the culture prevails.

There’s one more chapter in this 2018 book to be written and, if the Owls are able to beat a Power 5 foe (I really don’t care where) and hoist another bowl trophy, that would be an even happier ending than the one that closed the regular season.

Baylor in the Armed Forces Bowl would be my heavy lean (negotiate a trade with Army by putting it in the Birmingham Bowl) and hopefully the crafty Kraft is working on that now.

Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner: Poetic Justice

Thursday: How The West Was Won

Saturday: Temple’s Version of Allen Iverson

Monday: Bowl Selection Analysis





Back to the Bad Old Days

Anyone who has followed this space for the last dozen years of its existence knows where it started and where we left off last December.

From chronicling the depths of a 20-game losing streak to the glorious championship in a great league in December, the Temple program reached the lowest of the lows and pretty darn near the highest of the highs.

This team doesn’t
have a plan on offense,
other than throwing
the ball 54 times
a game. That’s not
the Temple football
we’ve all come to
know and love.
The Temple football
we love is running
Ryquell Armstead and
David Hood behind the
lead blocks of Nick
Sharga, and letting
that set up explosive
results downfield in
the play-action
passing game

Less than a year ago, many of these same Owls were holding and kissing a championship trophy in Annapolis.

Now, after a 28-24 loss to a UConn team that gave up 70 points a week ago, we can officially say we’re back to the bad old days.

Arguably, this is worse than the 20-game losing streak because those teams had no talent. This team has three of five starters returning on the offensive line,  a 900-yard running back, the best fullback in the country, the entire wide receiver corps, pretty much the entire defensive secondary and outstanding defensive linemen like Michael Dogbe, Sharrif Finch, Karamo Dioubate and Greg Webb. Al Golden had a plan and he stuck to it and saw it through to the school’s first appearance in a bowl game in 30 years. This team doesn’t have a plan on offense, other than throwing the ball 54 times a game. That’s not the Temple football we’ve all come to know and love. The Temple football we love is running Ryquell Armstead and David Hood behind the lead blocks of Nick Sharga, and letting that set up explosive results downfield in the play-action passing game.


Our hiring advice to Dr. Kraft the day Rhule quit.

There is plenty of championship level talent here and it is being squandered.

Whatever Golden lacked in game day acumen, he more than made up in being a brilliant CEO and terrific recruiter and Matt Rhule pretty much took the baton from Golden without fumbling it.

This team has plenty of talent, but has no plan and poor leadership at the top.

Would it absolutely kill
the Owls to start Anthony
Russo for a series or
two or even the first quarter
at Army? Certainly
not as much as the poor
quarterback play is
killing this
team now

Quarterback turnovers are killing this team and the CEO in charge doesn’t have the requisite gonads to make the change that is needed now. Would it absolutely kill the Owls to start Anthony Russo for a series or two or even the first quarter at Army? Certainly not as much as the poor quarterback play is killing this team now.  This offense needs a spark and a quarterback change is the best way to ignite that spark.

Logan Marchi isn’t as much the problem–the kid is trying hard but probably cannot see the field as well as a taller quarterback might–as the stubbornness from head coach Geoff Collins and  offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude of sticking with him when Collins said unequivocally that anyone who turns the ball over would sit.

That rule only applies to non-quarterbacks, evidently.

You have to wonder what Marchi has to do to earn a spot on the bench on this team. On the Pick 6, the ball was tipped ever so slightly and, had the Temple quarterback been 6-4 instead of 6-0, the pick 6 would not have happened.

After the Pick 6, what, exactly, does Collins say to the kid?

“That’s your ninth interception in league play,” Collins might say. “You can have 10, 11 and 12 but I’m drawing the line at 13.”


He probably does not say anything and that’s the even worse.

Collins has one of the best kickers in the country and, instead of using him with five minutes left to kick a field goal and cut it to one, he got greedy. Had Boomer kicked a field goal with five minutes left, it’s 28-27 and all the Owls would have had to do is get into field goal range again for the win. Instead, they put their hopes on the back of an erratic quarterback and asked him to throw the impossible Hail Mary pass.

After Rhule left, we wrote that it was time for Temple to hire a head coach, not an assistant. Temple had too much talent to have another head coach learn in the job and squander this much talent.

Golden was available, and that back to the future path probably should have been the road Dr. Pat Kraft had taken. UConn made the smart hire in Randy Edsall, a guy who knows how to win there.

Golden knows how to win here.

Instead, Kraft rolled the dice with Collins and, in a matter of months, Temple went from the Penthouse to the Outhouse.

Welcome back to the bad old days. We thought they ended roughly a dozen years ago but unless key personnel, philosophical and coaching changes are made on the offensive side of the ball, they are here to stay for a long time.

Tuesday: Fizzy’s Corner

Thursday: Thowback Day

Saturday: Stacking The Box

Homecoming: Prodigal Sons and Daughters Day


Even an 0-6 Temple team drew this kind of Homecoming crowd in 2013.

Expect to see a lot of new faces today at Homecoming.

It’s the one game of the year where the Temple soft core fan base merges forces with the hard cores like most of us.


The numbers show that even on bad years, the crowd never falls below the 25,000 range. Even when the Owls of first-year head coach Matt Rhule were 0-6, the game against Army drew in excess of 25,000. The photo above just shows the tailgate row entrance on that day.

Today’s weather should be great, with a temperature 13 degrees above the normal 66-degree day on Oct. 14. I’m expecting a crowd between 27,000 and 29,000, somewhere in that area. Anything above that would be gravy. If the Owls put on a good show on the field, maybe some of the fans will develop a taste for more and come out to the remaining home games.

In the long-term, a stadium on Temple’s campus would bring about an enhanced benefit of attracting more alumni back to the main campus. Homecoming is the one time of the year where thousands of fans who do not normally attend Temple games do come back.

Maybe the on-campus stadium experience will be better for them, maybe not.

Us hard cores will take in the sights as we do every year and wish for the day that these Prodigal Sons and Daughters—especially those who live in the five-country area surrounding the campus—cross over from the dark side to see the light.

Tomorrow: Game Analysis

Throwback Thursday: The Day the Owls Were In First Place in a BCS Conference

Chris Coyer talks about the fateful two-minute drill.

Five games into the season and there are so many theories about how the 2012 football season was going to play out for the Temple Owls.

Prior to the fifth game, I had a premonition that this was going to be a “16-13 or 21-14 game” and I wrote that in my Friday post, adding “go with the Owls.”

I was wrong.

It wasn’t 16-13 or 21-14.

It was 17-14.

And they needed overtime.

Close enough, and I got the right side.

We all know now how the first five games have played out, with the Owls winning more than they have lost and being unbeaten in the all-important conference games.

My reaction to UConn players walking through the halls.

Still, though, my belief turned into absolute metaphysical certainty only when I found myself sharing the same hotel as the UConn players, the Sheraton in Rock Hill, CT.

Not having a refrigerator in the room, I had to get up every two hours in the middle of the night and walk down the hall to keep my tailgate, err, stuff cold. My makeshift “refrigerator” was a trash can filled with ice that kept melting. So I needed frequent refills.


Owls celebrate on UConn’s field after Brandon McManus’ game-winning OT kick.

Each time I opened my door, I saw two or three UConn players wearing Huskie sweat clothes walking aimlessly through the halls.

At least it looked like aimlessly to me.

Later that morning, fellow Temple fan–the late, great Phil Makowski–and I slipped into the hotel meeting room and came away with a UConn playbook left on a seat by a backup running back. Phil snuck the playbook under his hoodie. On the way out, George DeLeone–who was coaching UConn at the time–noticed our Temple gear and gave us a nod and a smile. We smiled back.

At the same time, I was being told that Temple ran plays in the parking lot at its team hotel on the other side of town in Cromwell and also received texts from that hotel saying the Owls were safely tucked in their beds and not wandering the halls.

As a Temple fan, you cannot have this kind of fun at a watch party when it’s a short road trip to watch the Owls play. So that’s why I try to get to places like UConn, Army, Navy, Maryland and Rutgers when the Owls are playing road games. Stories like this you don’t get from watch parties.

I didn’t know UConn head coach Paul Pasqualoni was lax on the discipline end, but the evidence seem to have suggested otherwise.

As a Temple fan,
you cannot have
this kind of fun
at a watch party
when it’s a short
road trip to watch
the Owls play.
So that’s why I try
to get to places
like UConn, Army,
Navy, Maryland and
Rutgers when the
Owls are playing
road games


Although Maryland in 2011 was hard to top, this 2012 game at UConn was the topper.  The Owls won wearing the best uniform combination they have–all Cherry pants, Cherry helmets, broken white stripes down the side, white jerseys.

Brandon McManus won the game with a clutch overtime field goal, setting off the wildest away celebration I’ve ever seen from the Owls.

“We were going to get the ball in the middle of the field and let the best kicker in college football win it for us and that’s just what happened,” head coach Steve Addazio said.
Coach Wayne Hardin used to always say, “run when they expect you to pass and throw when they expect you to run.” A simple but effective philosophy taken from the old shell game. He wasn’t considered an offensive genius for nothing. Temple’s offensive philosophy was just enough to win on that day, but defensive coordinator Chuck Heater turned out to be the genius when he shut out the Huskies in the second half.

“You’re a genius, Chuck,” I said, as we were waiting for the players to board the bus afternoon.

“It’s not me, it’s the boys,” Heater said.

Chuck Heater loved Philadelphia the two years he was here and I thought he did a very good job as DC. He would bike from Center City to the campus every day.

Offensively, Steve Addazio was stubborn but a running back from, ironically, Boston College, saved him that day.

Temple’s Montel Harris had 28 carries for 142 yards and a touchdown, but Daz sent him wide on an ill-advised fourth and inches call which was stopped. On that play, center Sean Boyle was left uncovered and quarterback Chris Coyer could have gone 20 yards on a sneak. Coyer absolved those sins with what I believe is the most clutch throw I’ve ever seen from a Temple quarterback and I’ve seen a lot of clutch throws. A perfectly thrown pass across his body to Jalen Fitzpatrick in the corner of the end zone to send the game into overtime on a tremendously executed two-minute drill.

At the time, I did not know what the harm was in a play-action throw every once in a while on first down, not third, or rolling Coyer out with quick slants to Jalen Fitzpatrick and Ryan Alderman to set up success in the running game. The way that team was constructed, the run can never set up the pass. It’s not going to work. It’s got had the other way around. Things have changed for Temple since, and so has the offensive philosophy.

Different strokes for different folks.

That’s the kind of stuff that has to be locked down in the gameplan as well as bedcheck has been.

Temple was tucked away dreaming of first place in a BCS Conference and, for a day at least, those dreams came true.

The current Owls would be wise to sleep tight in their hotel on this Friday night to avoid the same mistake UConn made in 2012. That, and make sure the playbooks are all accounted for after any morning meetings.

Saturday: Homecoming Prodigals Return

Lucky Strikes


These fans look like people whose prayers were answered (photo from  Shram Shukla’s phone)

If a Temple fan had one prayer after the Army debacle, it would have gone something like this:

“God, I know that there is nothing you can do to get a crowd like 34,000 back after that game, but, please, please, have the Owls get their act together and be the kind of team they can be by the AAC part of the schedule. Please let them beat USF at home and have them at least hold the tie-breakers over the Bulls the rest of the way. Also, please don’t let the final three teams on the schedule, UConn, Tulane and ECU, be any good. Thanks, God. Oh, God, one more thing. If SEPTA goes on strike, please let it be a couple of days after the Cincy game so that the strike can go on for nearly a month without a home game. That’s it, God. I’m done.”

Temple fans must have been living right because it looks like that fervent prayer—which admittedly asked for a lot–was answered.  A significant portion of the Temple fan base takes SEPTA to the games and a strike did happen two days after the Cincy game and, unless it is an all-timer, will be over long before the ECU game. If there was ever a thing like a Lucky Strike, and we’re not talking cigarettes, this was one.
In other Lucky Strike news, the way the schedule breaks for them could not have been scripted better. God has blessed the Owls, and now it is up to them to make the most of those blessings beginning tonight (7 p.m., ESPN2) at the University of Connecticut. God can take this team to the Holy Water, but He cannot make them drink it.

They must do the rest.


If they are Temple TUFF, they should be able to close this bad boy out. Of course, the ball is not round and takes funny bounces but this first part of the Trifecta should be over fairly early. Temple holds a significant advantage in speed on both sides of the ball and that speed should make the night miserable for Huskies’ quarterback Bryant Shirreffs. The Huskies rank 109th in the nation in sacks allowed with opponents racking up 25 in nine games. Temple’s defensive ends, Haason Reddick and Praise Martin-Oguike, probably will be meeting at the quarterback a lot. They have combined for 11.5 sacks and 23 tackles for a loss. Reddick has 7.5 of those sacks and is rising near the top of the NFL draft board  as he is being projected as an NFL linebacker at that level.

If UConn has a chance to succeed, it is against Temple’s formidable run game because the Huskies rank No. 26 in rushing defense. None of those games, though, came against backs like Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Armstead.

Anything can happen in a football game, but the Owls are in a mighty good spot.

Almighty good.

Tomorrow: Game Analysis



5 Things to Watch on Saturday Night

Part of Temple head coach Matt Rhule’s message to Justin Fuente that became clear after a 31-12 win over Memphis on Saturday is that the plays Fuente prepared for were not necessarily the ones the Owls would use. The Owls either scored or set up scores on plays that they had not used or did not execute earlier in the year. That’s a good thing, and shows that former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has a lot of things to think about while preparing for Saturday’s game (7 p.m.) at  Lincoln Financial Field.

  1. Return of the Tight End

The Owls have three special talents at the tight end position and they used them all against Memphis. Colin Thompson, a Florida transfer, caught a seam pass over the middle for 43 yards; Saladeem Major released from a two-second block and found himself wide open in the flat for another score and Kip Patton scored on the same tight end reverse play that would have been perfect for Chris Coyer in 2013. In fact, we called for that play a few times in this space and thought that Coyer’s ability as a passer on the same play would have resulted in a few touchdowns. Now, maybe Patton will get to throw a pass off the same play he scored.


  1. The Deloatch Effect

All Romond Deloatch does is, as Buddy Ryan once said of Cris Carter, is catch touchdowns. At the time, Ryan meant it as a backhanded compliment, thinking that Carter did not catch enough passes in the middle of the field. Yet, with big games coming up, Deloatch is going to be an effective red zone target, using his great hands and 6-4 frame. The attention that Robby Anderson gets on the other side of the field is going to make him particularly dangerous.

  1. Attendance

All Temple has to do to win the AAC attendance title is to draw more than Memphis does for its game against SMU. The Owls have the slimmest of leads, averaging 47,343 per game to Memphis’ 46,547. The Owls can still draw a few hundred less than Memphis and win the attendance title, but the fans should take a page from the team and #LeaveNoDoubt. If you are planning on watching this game on TV and live near Philadelphia, one word of advice: Don’t. The kids feed off the energy of a loud crowd and all hands should be on deck.

  1. Mass Substitutions

Defensive coordinator Phil Snow said one of the problems in giving up too many points to both SMU and said he ran in defensive players in waves. This is good for the Owls for a couple of reasons. One, it keeps the team fresh late in the season, and, two, many of these players are youngsters like redshirt freshman DT Freddy Booth-Lloyd who are getting valuable experience. Booth-Lloyd made the initial hit on Paxton Lynch’s failed QB sneak.


No one would be happier for Tyler Matakevich than Steve Conjar.


  1. Closing in on a record

With 462 career tackles, Tyler Matakevich is closing in on the remarkable school tackle record of 492 held by Steve Conjar (1979-1981). Matakevich can do it, but it becomes a lot more manageable task if he had three games, not two. To get that extra game, the Owls have to beat UConn. That’s why the fans adhering to the suggestion of No. 3 is so important.

Tomorrow: 60 Minutes