People of a certain age will remember a commercial by Julius Erving after the Sixers imploded and lost a playoff series they were favored in and, in an attempt to win fans back the next season, Erving said: “We Owe You One.”
Well, for those of us who have sit in many Gosh-awful storms—and one documented Hurricane–to watch the Temple University’s football team lose heartbreakers, another storm, this time unnamed, came through with big-time payback on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Watching looks of happiness on the faces of long-time great Owls like Steve Conjar and Mark Bresani made this win even more worthwhile.
I don’t think the Owls win this game without the storm, but who cares? They won and that’s the bottom line. Nobody cared when Uconn got several calls at the end of regulation and OT that won a 12-6 game during Hurricane Hanna and years down the line no one will care that East Carolina was a team built for a fast track and a dry ball this year.
What’s important now is that the Owls take this ball and run with it–with the emphasis on the key word “run.”
“We made a decision to get back
to who and what Temple is.
We tried to play good defense
and special teams and
run the football.”
_ Matt Rhule
They know they can beat Memphis on Friday night to become bowl-eligible. Heck, they beat Memphis last year by 20 points with essentially the same offensive players, sans Robbie Anderson and Chris Coyer. Colin Thompson has shown he can become a Coyer; someone is going to have to step up and become a Robbie Anderson. Maybe Keith Kirkwood can. Memphis is better than it was last year, but so, too, is Temple. I don’t think Memphis has improved more than Temple, but that’s something Temple must prove on Friday night.
The Temple defense is light years ahead of last year and, if there is a better linebacker in the country than Tyler Matakevich, I have not seen him. This was Matakevich’s best game yet. We need a nickname for him. Maybe Pac-Man because of the way he eats up ballcarriers but I’m sure someone can come up with something better.
Temple Fun Fact:
Owls held ECU
to 60 fewer points
than North Carolina
to go to class
during the week
The Owls won because they did a better job taking care of the ball and a better job at committing to the run. It was heartening to see the post-game comments by head coach Matt Rhule that Temple had to get back to being Temple—which is running the football. Seeing Marc Tyson back there as a blocking fullback in a two-back set was a big step forward for the Temple run game and, hopefully, Kenny Harper can get some fullback time in, too. Harper’s spin move on one touchdown was a thing of beauty, as was his hesitation to pick up Dion Dawkins’ block on another TD. He’s both smart and tough, though he doesn’t possess high-end tailback speed.
The defense is playing at a big-time level and it’s high time the offense played up to their capabilities. If that happens, this could be the start of a long winning streak. If not, it will be a struggle to get to six. Maybe the renewed commitment to the run will help jump-start the play-action passing game.
Let’s hope so. They owe the defense one.