Love the acceleration of Ryquell Armstead on that last score.
If a team could feel a tinge of sadness coming off a 45-20 win, there is no blaming the Temple Owls after that score was completed at the end of a long day on Saturday afternoon.
Just before the game, it was learned that star safety and kick returner Sean Chandler could be lost for the season with a knee injury sustained in practice and that backup defensive linemen Julian Taylor and Sharif Finch are definitely done for the season.
Fortunately, Matt Rhule called this version of the Owls the “deepest and most talented team I’ve ever coached” (even after the Army debacle) and we will learn shortly if that is true because Saturday’s long day will be followed by a short week.
There are signs, though, that Rhule could be onto something here because Chandler was replaced by a player we feel has been underappreciated in his four years at Temple, safety Nate L. Smith. All Smith did was pick up an interception and add seven tackles. If Smith is indeed The Guy in the middle of the field, nothing he did on Saturday indicates there will be a significant drop off in play.
Smith is one of those guys who all he does is make plays and that has held true for the few times he has gotten into games over the last four years.
The same could be said of Finch, with his five blocked kicks and his spectacular near-pick 6 of Christian Hackenberg last year. Still, for all of the Finch plays, he was a backup to both Praise Martin-0quike and Haason Reddick at defensive end this year.
So the bad news might not be so bad and the good news is that the Owls’ offense is now showing signs of being the dominant unit. Phillip Walker is going to have to stop throwing interceptions, because SMU’s pick 6 was the only thing keeping this from being a 45-13 final.
There is much talk on social media about the poor crowd, but we told you here in writing what was going to happen in this post entitled “Unintended Consequences” after the Army loss. It was plain to see then and there is no surprise it is happening now. There is going to be no crowd redemption this season and that is the fault of the coaches who had eight months to prepare for that triple option. The Owls had a legitimate crowd of 34,005 on opening night and pretty much said goodbye to that kind of crowd with that loss. When Buffalo gets the job done that Temple should have, it gives those casual/fringe/lazy/softcore fans pause. We hardcores, the 20,000, will always be here. To use a double Biblical analogy, it’s the Prodigal Son fans who are the Doubting Thomases (not Glenn or Jahad). They need to be wooed by early wins. That’s the way it’s always been at Temple and that’s the way it always will be.
For now, though, the emphasis will be on getting the most out of this season and, despite the injuries, there is some promise for better times ahead. Memphis, the Thursday night opponent, will be a sterner test than SMU, so we should know more in five nights.
Monday: The Best Images From Saturday