Go ahead, try to explain this: Sue Paterno is planning some kind of “family celebration” on Sept. 17 marking Joe Paterno’s first game as head coach.
The university is denying any kind of sponsorship of this event, but this seems clear: Temple will have a chance to spoil some kind of party because that is the day the Owls travel to Penn State. It also marks the 50th year of Paterno’s first game as head coach, coming on Sept. 17, 1966 against Maryland.
Whatever your feelings are about Joe Paterno knowing or not knowing what Jerry Sandusky did (I vote yes, for reasons to be outlined further down this post), this is definitely a celebration that needs to be toasted with the sour taste of a Blue and White defeat. There is some good news ahead for Temple fans. As confident as I was in the Owls losing to Toledo in December, that’s how confident I am in the Owls beating Penn State again.
For these reasons:
- Confidence coming from blowout wins over Army and Stony Brook. Plenty of Owls will get playing time and those two wins should be able to get immensely talented players like Greg Webb and Karamo Dioubate up to speed.
- A four-year starting quarterback vs. a rookie. This is P.J. Walker’s year and he is not going to be upstaged by someone who could not beat out Christian Hackenberg. Walker clearly outplayed the New York Jets’ quarterback a year ago and goes from being a game manager to a star this season.
- Phil Snow has the formula to beat PSU. Snow tried the three-man rushes two years ago but now knows that constant pressure is the way to keep the Nittany Lions off balance.
- Temple will be supremely motivated. The Owls have been hearing all year that the only reason they won was because was because Saquon Barkley had only 1 carry. PSU fans conveniently forget that carry was a 1-yard loss.
- Penn State will be trying too hard. Revenge will be on the Staters’ minds, but the pressing that comes with it will cause fumbles and interceptions.
- Temple has weapons all over the place. With Ryquell Armstead at running back and Jahad Thomas at slot receiver, Kip Patton and Colin Thompson at tight end and Adonis Jennings and Ventell Bryant at wide receiver, the Owls can finally use the “shell game” offense—that is, spreading the ball around to a number of guys who can make explosive plays downfield. It might not be 27-10 again, but it could be 24-7 or even 34-10.
In Paterno’s first year as an assistant, 1950, his team tied Temple, 7-7. He was Rip Engle’s only assistant and, that year, learned to be a micro-manager, a trait that he carried with him through his later years. He had to know Jerry Sandusky was a bad hombre because he facilitated Sandusky’s exit at a time when defensive coordinators just do not retire. That only made sense after the scandal hit the fan.
If any party deserves to be pooped, it is this one, and the Owls are just the team to do it.
Sunday: Paying Temple Forward
Tuesday: The Turner Field Solution