Five One Keys to the Game

The key on Saturday will be the Owls sending MORE guys than the Nits can block, not like last year when PSU could use two lineman to block every rusher

The key on Saturday will be the Owls sending MORE guys than the Nits can block, not like last year when PSU could use roughly two linemen to block every rusher. (Photos by Temple Super Fan Ted DeLapp)

What was reserved for this space originally was at least one person’s opinion of what the five keys to the game would be on Saturday against Penn State.

There were five darn good ideas, cooked up all summer, but I thought, “Geez, who am I kidding?” There really is only one key to the game and that key opens up the other four doors: Put Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg on his backside early and often. Make him uncomfortable, take him down a lot, hit him more, and come at him from all sides. Make him think he’s going to get hit early on every play and he will give the ball up.

The guy is relatively immobile and has a documented history of happy feet and Temple should take advantage of that little bit of intelligence.

IF Owls go to play action, as promised, those 2 safeties in the middle of the field will be much closer to the line of scrimmage, allowing Owl receivers to get the separation they didn't get last year.

IF Owls go to play action, as promised, those 2 safeties in the middle of the field will be much closer to the line of scrimmage, allowing Owl receivers to get the separation they didn’t get last year.

In the six games Penn State lost a year ago, Hackenberg was sacked at least four times in each one. In five of those games, Hackenberg had 14 of his 15 interceptions and seven of his nine lost fumbles. Northwestern, coached superbly by Pat Fitzgerald, figured that out in a 29-6 win at State College, sacking Hackenberg only four times, but hitting him an additional 19. Temple fans would like to have 19 sacks and four hits, but they will gladly have what Northwestern had a year ago. This was the same Northwestern team that lost to Northern Illinois earlier the same season.

The Owls took the opposite approach a  year ago, more times than not dropping eight and rushing three. The Owls cannot afford to play that passively on Saturday.

Fitzpatrick is fighting an uphill battle at the Chicago-area school because the Wildcats have Ivy League type academic restrictions and those have limited his talent pool. What Stanford is to the Pac-12 and Vandy to the SEC, that’s what Northwestern is to the Big 10.  In addition, Northwestern has by far the smallest fan base in the conference. He can coach my team any day of the week, though. Northwestern might have had a losing season, but not because the team is ill-prepared or doesn’t game plan well.

Temple’s coaches could learn a lot from examining the Northwestern film. Let’s hope they dissected it like a frog in biology class.

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11 thoughts on “Five One Keys to the Game

  1. 1. Can our offensive line move PSU off the line of scrimmage? If not, then what does Satterfield have for plan B? It won’t matter if we have three backs in the backfield or five TEs if our front five can’t move their front five off the ball.

    2. Stop the run. If Temple can’t stop the run then there is little chance for success against the PSU passing attack. Temple will lose by a HUGE margin if PSU finishes the game with more than 180 yards rushing.

    3. Will Temple make any halftime adjustments and score TDs in the second half? Temple has been God-awful on offense after halftime. Are there any pages in the playbook for 3rd quarter counterpunches?

    4. Sack Hackenberg in the 4th quarter. Sacking Hackenberg in the fourth quarter will be an indication of several things: the game is so close in the 4th qtr that PSU has to throw the football downfield; our D line and LBs have the depth and stamina to play well into the 4th qtr; and, Snow has figured out how to out scheme the PSU offense.

    5. Big play on Special Teams. this is two-fold, Temple won’t be able to survive a PSU big play on special teams; and Temple must find a way to make a big 4th quarter play on special teams.

    I think Temple will have a great season, finish at 7-5 and go to a bowl. Unfortunately, don’t see any of the five above happening on Saturday…, PSU will be a really good Big Ten team this year and has the schedule to finish at 10-2, and in the Top 15. Reality is they have better athletes and benefit from better coaching (they will finish the game with less penalty yards and less turnovers).

    PSU 31 – Temple 13 (will miss an extra point and 2 FGs)

    • This is a very depressing summary. I hope it does not come to fruition. I am particularly worried about number 2.

      • with Matt Ioannidis and Hershey Walton up the middle (and Averee Robinson playing with a purpose), that’s way far down on the list of my worries. Second-half game coaching is right at the top.

      • I hope you are right Mike. I just look at the picture of three lineman on the line and everyone else back away from the line, and think that gives the Penn State runners a lot of room to maneuver before they are hit.

  2. Man, those photos are like those videos you see of a gas station robbery where the robber’s face is clearly visible. In this case, the guy doing the robbing is Rhule and the gas station is Temple and the robbery is occurring every game day. Mike (and K.J.), that’s a good point about the Northwestern game plan but do you think Rhule or anyone on that staff even research what successful staffs have done against Penn State or they completely ignore that kind of free scouting?

  3. I think part of “the process” here is ignoring what successful staffs do against hated opponents. I honestly do not think they picked up anything from watching that Northwestern game because the Owls played relatively passively on defense compared to Fitzgerald bringing blitzes on Hackenberg from all sides. It’s OK to borrow from Northwestern. There is no shame in that. I hope the Owls do it. Hit Hackenberg in the first, second and third quarters as well as the fourth one.

  4. I wonder if it could be that simple. Blitzing on say 50% of the downs will be the key. I would imagine they’d have to selectively blitz, otherwise it’s too easy for PSU to pick apart TU with anti blitz plays, right?

    • It”s even more simple than that. In that photo (and basically all day last Nov. 14th), we rushed 3 and dropped 8. that’s a ridiculously passive approach against a guy who goes down, throws an interception or fumbles when he’s hit hard. All we have to do is rush 5. We’ll get to him. If we don”t, make Avery Williams No. 6 and send Champ Chandler on a few corner blitzes. We made him WAY too comfortable last year.

  5. i still cant find a depth chart. I dont even see one for PSU, either

  6. Temple released the depth chart today, of note Praise Martin is not starting, and Romond Deloatch gets the start ahead of Jennings, my vote would be to put Jennings in the slot and sit Christopher. This is the smallest D line Temple has put on the field in recent memory, the PSU off tackle runs will kill us.

    Think the offensive line is better with Lofton not in the starting line-up; however, Ahmed at left guard who is listed at 305 lbs is closer to 285 lbs, look for the Temple O-line guards to be over matched early by the huge and agile PSU defensive tackles, key will be what type of adjustment Temple makes in the blocking and play calling schemes. traps and counters gets my vote.., Temple guards will not be able to beat the PSU defensive tackles hat on hat.

    • once I look over my research I’ll reply to your ideas. At first glance it seems like 2 sophmores jumped over an established junior for the 4/5th spot on the line. I find it better when young guys step up and can be replaced by vets, as compared to the backups having no experience and most likely less skilled

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