A Good Nervous

“I thought our fullbacks did a great job of setting the tone,” Matt Rhule at the 14:36 time stamp.

Anyone who has ever played the game at the high school level or above knows the feeling of being a little nervous before every game. Butterflies is really the best word I’ve heard for it and, although we did not hear Temple head coach Matt Rhule say that word he implied it at the most recent press conference.

“We’re nervous, but it’s a good nervous,” he said.

Can’t argue with the results because the “good nervous” has meant the school’s first 4-0 start since 1974, a season the team won their first six games. In order for the results to continue, it’s OK to have butterflies before Saturday’s Homecoming Game with Tulane (noon, Lincoln Financial Field).

“I thought our fullbacks did a great job of setting the tone.”

Once you get that first hit in, though, the butterflies go away and you just play ball and that’s what the Owls have to concentrate on against Tulane. They are a better team than Tulane, and probably a lot closer to the Duke team that hammered Tulane, 37-7, and the Georgia Tech team that abused Tulane, 65-10, than they are to Tulane right now and that should be enough.

Other highlights from the presser:

  • The Owls are playing a lot of players now. This is a very good thing because that means there is going to be a more seamless transition to next year because of the way Freddie Booth-Lloyd (who helps replace Matt Ioannidis) and Michael Dogbe (who probably replaces Nate D. Smith) are playing now. Heck, Nick Sharga—next year’s Tyler Matakevich—also had a good extended run.
  • Rhule said “the fullbacks set the tone.” Yes, he really said that. We’ve come a long way in a year.
  • The Owls are not quite as good as they are going to get. “We’re not quite there just yet,” Rhule said, “but we’re getting there.” Hopefully, where they are now is good enough to beat Tulane and UCF and they “get there” upon arrival in Greenville, N.C., where they put it all together in three weeks and stay “there” for the rest of the season.
  • The Owls have only forced two fumbles. This time last year they forced 10. Got to think the second guy in on every tackle is going to be punching that ball like it’s Chuck Wepner’s face.
  • The Tulsa game (last year’s Homecoming) was sloppy because the Owls tried to do too much.
  • It was good to establish the run. Jahad Thomas, after a minor hiccup against UMass, took some sugar and got rid of the hiccups against Charlotte, going for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Sharga is Temple’s first significant two-way player since even before John Rienstra. “Rhino” came in for only a couple of downs on defense against BYU. Sharga played 11 snaps on offense, mostly early, and 14 more on defense, mostly late. “It’s a great story,” Rhule said.  Matt is right about that because I wasn’t born when Temple last had a significant two-way player, and that’s a long time ago.

One person Rhule did not mention was Nate L. Smith, a former Archbishop Wood and George Washington player, who scored a touchdown on a blocked punt and probably should have scored one on his interception. The only reason he did not was a teammate missed a very makeable block and allowed the Charlotte running back to make the tackle. Still, Smith showed the kind of running instincts in the open field and nose for the end zone that would make him a great option as a punt returner.

Got to think that missed block came up in one of Phil Snow’s film room sessions this week since the Owls want to maximize their scoring opportunities on defense.

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17 thoughts on “A Good Nervous

  1. For a team like Temple, for which most every win came with a struggle in past years, the nervousness is a good thing. With a couple more wins that nervousness will turn to confidence that they are a good team that will win if everyone plays up to his ability. It’s the confidence all great teams exude when they run onto the field like PSU ND, and Alabama do just by taking the field.The good teams run onto the field without a whole lot of histrionics because of that confidence. With each and every win the Owls will lose the fear that a little mistake will cost the game and play more loosely, which in athletics, is a good thing.

    • I thought the team played nervous the first quarter against PSU, but they summoned a massive amount of courage and calmness and pummeled Penn State like Mike Tyson did to some of his punching bags in the last 3 quarters. That’s the kind of confidence I like to see them play with the next 3 weeks.

  2. Agree on the nervousness (and another great article as always). It’s a good kind though, and one we haven’t had in years. If the coaches stick to what’s working, maintain the FB and keep away from 5 wides, I say we take another W.

    Mike, what do you think it will take for Temple to crack the top 25 this year? I’m assuming no less than an ND win. Thoughts?

    • Great question. To me, no doubt we’d be in with a convincing Colorado-type win over UMass (we were 26 before that game). That struggle set us back a few weeks. Now the question is how many weeks? If we beat Tulane this week, don’t think we will get in. If, however, we beat UCF following that, I think we will squeak in after that game. Don’t have to beat ND to get into the top 25 because I know 7-0 with seven-straight wins (8 if you count last year) will definitely get us in if we beat ECU. That’s going to be a tough one, but I think we can beat ECU. (Remember, Navy smoked them, 45-21.)

      • speaking of navy, how cool would it be for us to come out in a triple option–qb p.j., fullback Nick, tailbacks ryquell and jahad–since ecu had so much trouble defending that? could practice it at the indoor facility and roll out that nuclear weapon in Greenville for the first time. They won’t know what hit them. 🙂

      • Mike, would love to see it on a limited basis but don’t think that PJ could take the beating. I cringe watching Navy on some of the hits the QB takes.

      • i could see it against ecu, but return to our regular offensive programming the next week against ND. that way, we confound both Ruffin McNeil and Brian Kelly.

  3. My favorite comment at the press conference is that we won’t be doing bubble screens. He is learning as a head coach.

  4. Are you sure Sharga starts next yr? I thought Marshall would, since he is the main backup to both the outside spots according to the depth chart i saw, and almost won the starting job anyways

    also, are you sure dogbe replaces Smith? I thought Finch would step in. Plus isn’t Praise martin the actual starter, this year and next? I know he’s injured. I mean when he’s healthy

    who do you think starts when young leaves? Hairston, Foster or Ali? I wonder if any move to safety since Smith and the new guy (true freshman who’s name keeps escaping me) will need some sort of a backup.

    Do you know of any reliable depth chart? I keep using rivals and ourloas, but those depth charts are not accurate

    • I think Praise may leave after this year. remember he’s like 23 years old after missing 2 seasons. however Rhule great recruiting has young guys ready to replace this years seniors. Kareem Ali will probably replace Tavon.

      • I agree. They are trying to redshirt Ali and, as far as Praise, really feel he hasn’t made the impact to match his talent because he’s been nicked up here and there. Plus, he scored a touchdown against UMass and they called it back because the MAC refs were incompetent that game. MAC refs and incompetent. Sounds familiar, but it is true.

  5. we’re a year away, so nothing’s a sure thing. my point is that we have the replacements who can step in without a huge dropoff. Sharga reminds me of Matakevich Lite. Marshall has the speed to be moved to strong safety. Praise has to stay healthy. Freddie Booth-Lloyd is going to be a very good tackle. Updated depth charts do not come out until game day.

    • I get your point. You were just stating TU has the ability to replace some of all of this great D, regardless of the details.

      Do you know where (website, game day program, blogs/podcasts etc) I can find depth charts on game day? I like to refer to them to track the changes through the year.

  6. it’s not an exact science, just opinion. sharga didn’t get a single digit for nothing. he’s one of the 9 toughest kids on the team. best place for depth charts is owlsports on gameday … game notes. … those are the depth charts given to the sports info director on game day by the coaching staff. if that’s not accurate enough, i don’t know what to tell you.

  7. We all need to stay proud of this team and follow them to a well deserved bowl game. See you on the road somewhere where the weather is nice this holiday season!

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