If you needed any insight into why Memphis is coming into Lincoln Financial Field a 7-point favorite against a Temple team that just beat No. 23 East Carolina, all you have to do is go straight to the training table at Edberg-Olson Hall. Head coach Matt Rhule calls it the “M*A*S*H unit.”
At least that’s what I got out of watching the latest version of Matt Rhule Weekly. Two-way football, missing since the days of Bill Juzwiak and Bill Cosby, has returned to Temple. (Juzwiak, a former William Tennent coach, used to remind me he played 60 minutes starting for Temple on both the offensive and defensive lines. One of the best high school coaches and funniest guys I’ve ever known when I first started covering high school sports.) Cosby played both fullback and defensive back for Temple in the same games. Juzwiak was just as funny as Cos, just didn’t make any money out of it.
Brian Carter, a starter at defensive tackle—and in the preseason a lot of starters at DT were in the preseason mix and Carter was not one of them—against UCF, will be a starter on the offensive line against Memphis.
Double ouch since Shabazz Ahmed—last year’s starter at DE—was forced to the offensive side of the ball before the season. He now appears out.
Also, playing in that Temple game last year were stars like Robbie Anderson and Chris Coyer and some under-rated lunch pail guys like Cody Booth and Evan Regas and they are no longer here.
I guess the loss of Anderson, who scored three touchdowns in that 41-21 Temple win, and Coyer, who scored one, is the reason why Temple has gone from a 20-point winner to a 7-point loser against this same Memphis team. Still, I think Temple has improved the entire team is so many other areas that this one should go down to the wire. Another interesting point: Temple beat Vandy by about the same score ole miss did and ole miss hammered Memphis, 24-3. Best case scenario is Temple wins by the same score. Worse case is Memphis covers the seven. Good reason for all 250,000 TU alumni and 39K full-time TU students to cram into every nook and cranny of LFF Friday night.
But pleading and hoping and praying for Temple fans to make a difference has worked rarely in the past (Eagle Bank Bowl being a notable exception) so this is going to have to be on the players and coaches. If you decide to pray for anything, please pray that the Owls don’t fall back into their three-wides, no-blocking-back for P.J. Walker approach they had against Houston and UCF. In that scheme, Walker had no time–none–to throw and receivers could get zero separation. So happy to see the Owls get away from that last Saturday.
If the Owls can continue with what they did on offense against ECU—using a fullback and play-action passing to buy time for P.J. Walker and spring Jahad Thomas and Kenny Harper at the point of attack—they can run enough minutes off the clock and make enough plays to keep Memphis’ offense off the field.
At least that should be the plan.
Watch coach Fran Dunphy’s message here (so proud that this great man is representing our school):