A good recap of Temple’s single-digit tough guy tradition.
Since Al Gore invented the internet (relax, just kidding), one of the quickest ways to get a pulse of a fan base is to visit one of these ubiquitous college football message boards.
Penn State has one of the best in its Blue White Illustrated McAndrew Board, a Wild Wild West of insults, flames and trolls but, mostly, a place to hold the hand of the Nittany Lions’ fans and look at a stopwatch to gauge their heartbeat.
If you do not take them seriously, a few minutes reading what these fans are thinking can be wildly entertaining.
Most of them think Penn State will steamroll Temple and that faulty logic is based on a number of unrelated thoughts floating around in their heads they accept as doctrine. One, in their collective minds, Temple is nowhere near as good as last year. Two, if Army can rush for 329 yards against Temple, so can Penn State.
Before debunking those notions, here is a pretty good sampling of the way the fans are viewing Temple’s visit to Beaver Stadium (noon, Big Ten Network) on Saturday:
AWS1022 (PSU fan)
“ We aren’t losing to Temple and I’m not sure how anyone who watched the game today would think so. Temple is worse than last year by a lot and we’re better than we were last year. If you think Temple would beat Pitt you’re crazy and I doubt we have 5 turnovers again next week. …”
Greenpeach (Pitt fan):
“You beat Temple by at least two touchdowns. Honestly, after a horrible start, I thought your team looked poised and played very well.”
You could find about 1,000 posts over there expressing similar sentiments using different words. There are a couple of things wrong with that line of thinking.
Temple is only “worse” to people who do not know any better. The people who do, the Temple coaches and the Temple fans, feel this is a better team than the one the school fielded last year. The results of the Army game do not change that. That game is an outlier because the Temple coaches do not know how to scheme against the triple option and they never really did. Temple gave up the A gaps and fullback dives all night. (Memo to Phil Snow: 44 stack, nose guard, two tackles in the A gaps and no triple option gouges you ever again.) Unless Penn State comes out and runs the triple option, gives to a nonexistent fullback, the Owls match up very well against the Nittany Lions.
Pitt had eight plays
of 20 or more yards
against Penn State.
The week before,
the Panthers had
ZERO plays of 20
or more yards, and
that was against
which is quite possibly
worse than Stony Brook.
The result of the Penn State game probably will be an affirmation of it. Here are a couple more facts to ponder: Kent State gave the Nits a game for the better part of three quarters on the road. Kent State lost to North Carolina A&T last week. Yes, A&T. At home. Pitt had eight plays of 20 or more yards against Penn State. The week before, the Panthers had ZERO plays of 20 or more yards, and that was against Villanova. Yes, Villanova which is quite possibly worse than Stony Brook.
First off, to the casual outsider, the losses of linebacker Tyler Matakevich, tackle Matt Ioannidis, corner Tavon Young and wide receiver Robby Anderson are insurmountable. The Temple fan, the guy who pours over depth charts 365 days a year, knows better. Matakevich is not replaced by one player, but by three linebackers who have 41 starts between them. Two of them are repeat single-digit players, meaning they were among the nine toughest guys on the team last year as well. Because of the play of corners Nate Hairston and Artrel Foster, who both saw plenty of time last year, Tavon Young’s loss is replaceable. Moving the other corner, Sean Chandler, to the middle of the field has accentuated his ball skills and made the secondary better. Ioannidis is replaced by the deepest and fastest defensive line Temple has ever fielded. So much so that the defensive end who made the play of the game in a 27-10 win over Penn State a year ago, Sharif Finch, is now second team through no fault of his own but because the Owls have beasts on both ends, Haason Reddick and Praise Martin-Oguike, the latter who had an interception in the Notre Dame game.
To the know-it-alls on the opposing fan message boards, these players do not exist. On game day, they will wonder where they came from and wish they had paid closer attention to what Temple really has coming back.
In five days, they will learn the hard way.
Wednesday: 5 Keys For Beating Penn State
Friday: The Rivalry Arrives
Saturday: Game Analysis