|I don’t know what the final score will be, but this is an artist’s depiction of it.|
The best coaching I ever got in sports came the first time I picked up a baseball bat.
The field was on Roosevelt Boulevard in Far Northeast Philadelphia and I was a 10-year-old playing for Our Lady of Calvary’s Athletic Association travel team.
After watching me swing for the fences all day, my coach took me aside.
“Son, just make contact. You’ll be surprised how far the ball goes.”
The next day, instead of hitting a lot of foul balls, I started to hit line drives into the gap.
So it goes with Temple’s football team tomorrow night.
Temple vs. Villanova: Lincoln Financial Field
Game time: 7 p.m.
Weather: 90 degrees and clear at kickoff; in the low 90s earlier in the day.
Tailgating lots open: 2 p.m. No team flags allowed in Lot K this year due to solar panels, which have recently been installed.
Radio: Temple (Harry Donahue play-by-play; Steve Joachim color), WIP (610AM); Villanova (Joe Eichhorn play-by-play; Ryan Fannon color), WPEN (950AM)
(If you really can’t get down to the game and want to know the correct down and distance and don’t want to be confused otherwise, listen to the Villanova broadcast)
Just play make a lot of contact, play hard and tough and smart and even the Owls might be surprised how high the score goes.
Try to swing for the fences and win the game 88-0 in the first quarter and the game might be one of those nail-biters going into the fourth quarter.
It won’t be 88-0, but I don’t think it will be 27-24 like the first Temple vs. Villanova game in the four-game Mayor’s Cup series was.
If the Owls just make contact and play the way they are capable of, the final score will fall somewhere between that.
Something like last year’s 42-7 score.
What Villanova has going for it is experience and great coaching.
Andy Talley is a terrific coach who always has his teams ready. Expect a funky play or two like a pass off a double-reverse or a double pass. Talley has come up with at least one of them in the past three Temple games and two of them worked for long gains.
The experience part I’m not so much worried about. Ten starters return on defense and eight on offense. When you go 2-9 in FCS play, though, maybe fewer starters returning would be more helpful.
|Do Temple U. and the kids who play for it a favor
by planning to watch the game in person. This is your
team. They need you more than ever this season.
The Wildcats have an athletic receiver in Norman White and a couple of fine running backs in Austin Medley and Kevin Monangai. Still, the Owls have the makings of a fierce pass rush in ends John Youboty and Sean Daniels and some solid run-stoppers led by preseason All-Big East nose tackle Levi Brown. Maybe quarterback Chris Polotny will be able to find White. Maybe he will be on his backside most of the game.
I think Vaughn Carraway, one of the nation’s top wide receiver recruits when he played at Muhlenberg High, will be able to make some plays at the free safety position.
I also think sophomore Anthony Robey, who missed some games last season, will be a lock-down corner this year. Linebackers Blaze Caponegro and Ahkeem Smith were solid last year. Nate D. Smith might be the best of the bunch this season.
The Owls’ special teams should do well against their Villanova counterparts as Matty Brown will still be returning kicks, as well as Jalen Fitzpatrick on punts. I hope all Brandon McManus has to do is kick off and does a record 40-yard dash toward the sideline.
We all know what Chris Coyer can do. The junior quarterback is unbeaten as a Temple starter.
I’ll be most excited to see Montel Harris live after being wowed for the last three months watching every frame of film on him. As I see it, the way he differs from Pierce is that he’s better able to get the tough yardage between the tackles, but is not the “home run” hitter Pierce was. That might be better for the Plan to Win. Bleed the defense with 8-10-15-yard gains, keep the clock moving and shorten the game.
Everybody talks about the lack of experience on the offensive line. Nobody talks about how great a blocker fullback Wyatt Benson is or how great a blocker tight end Cody Booth is or how solid returner starters Sean Boyle (center) and Martin Wallace (tackle) are. If they don’t know now, they soon will.
Head coach Steve Addazio’s “Plan to Win” this year is simple:
Run the ball to shorten the game, make explosive plays downfield off play-action passes, avoid turnovers, make plays on the special teams and play solid defense.
Most of all make contact, Temple TUFF-style.
Saturday: Game recap (no story tomorrow due to tailgating)