There is still something for Temple to prove against Toledo in the Boca Raton Bowl on Tuesday night and chief among them could be stability matters in college football these days.
The Owls had to deal with rumors of their coach, Matt Rhule, leaving for the first two days of the week prior to the AAC championship game at Houston. There was one pretty good indication that it was a distraction because star linebacker Tyler Matakevich was interviewed during a Temple basketball game the Sunday before Houston and said it was just “another distraction we have to block out.” If it wasn’t a distraction, there would be no need to block anything out. While the Owls say they blocked it out, they certainly did not appear to be ready to handle a two-minute drill that they desperately needed to execute in the final seven minutes of the Houston game. Maybe two-minute practice was scraped when Rhule had Missouri over for a chat that Sunday. Maybe not, but the Owls did not seem like a prepared team for long stretches of the Houston game.
The Owls should have no such distractions on Tuesday night, as Rhule got a new contract after the Houston game and is not talking to anyone for now and hopefully for a long, long time.
From a talent standpoint, the teams are evenly matched. There are other factors, though. Matt Campbell, Toledo’s former coach, took four assistants with him to Iowa State. The new head coach (Jason Candle) was the offensive coordinator, and the defensive coordinator (Jon Heacock) is still with Toledo. The defensive line coach is staying for the bowl game, but already is said to be recruiting for Iowa State. Maybe they will scrap the two-minute defensive preparations in order to take phone calls from the Iowa State recruits. How they manage time in these difficult circumstances is an unknown.
Candle hired two new assistants in the time between the end of the season and graduate assistants are taking on additional game preparation duties.
In short, the Rockets might not look as sharp as they have in the regular season but the Owls cannot take anything for granted. Toledo scored 51 points on a team (UMass) that the Owls scored half that number against. The Temple seniors deserve the reward of going out a winner, but there are probably an equal number of Rocket fans who believe the same thing about their kids. The quarterback, Phillip Ely, is not a two-way threat so that could be a tangible advantage for the Owls.
If Temple has an intangible in its favor, it is distractions or lack of them.