We often hear, especially in times like last week after a tough loss, that “it is, after all, only a game.”
That’s easy to say for every week other than Penn State Week for Temple people. For people who say “it’s only a game; it’s’ not life-and-death” … it is life and death for us who have waited for a win over Penn State all of our lives and desperately want to see one before we go to the other side.
Thinking about all of the great Temple fans that I had the pleasure of talking to in the concourses at the Vet, Franklin Field, Temple Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field, like Steve Bumm (see No. 4 in this story), NJ Schmitty, Shane Artim and Dan Glammer, among others, who never got to see this and, of course, Mr. Katz. They are all gone and none forgotten and never had a chance to see Temple beat Penn State before going to the other side. How many more of us will pass this year with no chance to see a win next year?
This win is much more than for a chance to participate in a bowl game. It is for the respect of an entire city and state. Philadelphia has been force-fed PSU football coverage for 50-plus years when they already had a hometown team. The day Temple beats Penn State will be the day you stop seeing Temple students wearing PSU sweatshirts on campus. It is the day you will finally hear Temple football talked about on the radio and television stations.
So, for all those reasons, it is life and death. The Penn State game is much more than a game for Temple people and it has been for 73 years and it will be until the day Temple beats Penn State and hopefully that day is just a few hours away.
I think it is and I don’t think I’m looking through Cherry-and-White-colored glasses this time.
For all of the mismanagement on offense, Temple’s defense—particularly its defensive line—will win this game. Temple has an athletic and quick defensive line and Penn State has largely an inexperienced group of offensive linemen (and thanks to the Penn State fan who sent us that information). These guys are not walk-ons, but they’ve struggled. If Temple’s defensive line does what it did against Vanderbilt—with four SEC starters returning from a team that went 9-4 in the best conference in America—the Owls should win this game. We are not asking the Temple defensive line to do something it is not capable of doing or has not done before.
On offense, what the Owls have is a lot of really good players with unique skills who are not being put in the best position to win. Temple should not be struggling to score 13 points against the likes of Houston, UCF and Memphis. Temple has two potentially great blocking fullbacks in Kenny Harper and Marc Tyson and it rarely uses them that way. Temple has a potentially great tailback in Jahad Thomas and it rarely uses a fullback block at the point of attack to spring him for big gains. Temple has a potentially great tight end in Colin Thompson and rarely throws him the ball. Temple has at least two offensive linemen who will be playing on Sundays—Dion Dawkins and Kyle Friend—and rarely use those two with Thompson and Tyson running interference on toss sweeps to Thomas that could open up that entire offensive arsenal.
Speaking of that arsenal, Temple has a change-of-pace tailback who runs the ball well in space—Jamie Gilmore—and rarely uses him that way but fans jump all over him when he drops a catchable bomb when they should be jumping all over the coaches instead. Keith Kirkwood (his OC called him Kirkland on a radio interview), John Christopher and Romond Deloatch—guys with magnets for hands and stick-em rubbed all over those magnets—are rarely thrown but instead target too many guys who do drop balls. The Owls have an extremely talented rollout quarterback, P.J. Walker, who they try to make a dropback passer far too much.
Temple gets no WR separation
or QB protection in those
formations but stubbornly
roll those formations out
week after week and wonder
why it struggles to score
This offense is a cluster-bleep of trying to fit good square pegs into horrible round holes.
What Temple has on offense is an OC from Tennessee-Chattanooga who is in love with a three- and four-wide formations that this personnel is not suited for and a head coach who is too nice a guy to over, err, rule his good friend. Temple gets no WR separation or QB protection in those formations but stubbornly roll those formations out week after week and wonder why it struggles to score. With this talent and a more traditional two-back and I-formations with plenty of play-action, Temple is as formidable on offense as it has been on defense this year.
For all that messing around on that side of the ball, I think Temple still wins this one in a game closer than it should be, say 13-10.