Maybe the worst thing that might have happened for Temple in the short term last night against SMU was scoring on the second play of scrimmage because, maybe, the Owls thought this was going to be too easy.
It might also turn out to be the best thing in the, err, long run—the longest in Temple history by a guy who might be the single most talented back in the program. Jager Gardner went from zero to 94 yards in just one play. He had zero yards for the season before that play and finished with 116 yards on just six carries.
At that point, I thought Jagermeister might have remained in the game in order to establish a rhythm, but it became apparent that head coach Matt Rhule had a plan to rotate the running backs. It’s nice to know, though, if something happens, the Owls at at least three—maybe four—deep at an important position.
Love to see the Owls
in a 5-2 with
champion Averee Robinson
lined up over the center
as the nose guard
and having tackles
Matt Ioannidis and
Hershey Walton flanking
him with Sharif Finch
and Praise Martin-Oguike
at the ends.
Somehow, though, I think Gardner is going to be The Guy after Jahad Thomas finishes as The Guy and he showed flashes of that ability on that play. Even though Gardner has appeared in other games, it was for a carry here and there and never enough to establish a rhythm. Maybe next week will be that week in order to give Thomas’ injury more of a rest before Memphis.
As far as the rest of the game, the Owls are going to have to tighten up on defense. Special teams, as well as they’ve played all season, deserve a mulligan for that free kick return. Great job by Tyler Mayes on the fake punt.
After watching the film, the problem on defense appears to be that the Owls had chances to knock down long passes and simply did not even attempt to do it—they allowed that play to Will Fuller to repeat itself. Also, too many three-man rushes. Love to see the Owls in a 5-2 with two-time Pennsylvania heavyweight wrestling champion Averee Robinson lined up over the center as the nose guard and having tackles Matt Ioannidis and Hershey Walton flanking him with Sharif Finch and Praise Martin-Oguike at the ends (Nate D. Smith is hurt). To me, that personnel grouping is best suited to both stop the run and cause havoc in any passing game without blitzing. We’ve seen the 5-2 before, just not enough of it.
Other than that, any time you drop 60 and some people call it escaping with a win is a good time.