This year Cherry and White was more than a game or a day.
It was a two-day celebration of how special a place Temple University is, starting with the surprise celebration in Center City on Friday night attended by over 200 of Paul Palmer’s closest friends.
That was important because Palmer’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame this December doesn’t just lift him up but all of Temple football because he is the very first Temple player ever inducted.
Then, the next day, over 5,000 fans attended the Cherry and White game and, while there is always optimism on this day, this seems a little more well-founded than other Cherry and White Days. Head coach Geoff Collins addressed the football team afterward and told them they were a very good football team on the way to being great.
No denying there is plenty of talent there, but how that talent translates into number of wins is a matter of debate. It SHOULD be more than the seven last year, but whether that is eight or 12 or somewhere in between won’t be proven until December.
Here are five takeaways to consider:
Last Line Of Defense
When you lose three of four starting defensive backs—guys who were the last line of defense for an AAC championship team two years ago—there is a sense of urgency to plug those holes and, in Keyvone Bruton, Rock Ya-Sin and Benny Walls, the holes seem to be not only plugged but tightened. After Mike Jones was called for a bogus interference play on an interception in the Houston game, Jones seemed to back off the rest of the season. Bruton, Ya-Sin and Walls have a lot of athleticism but no quit in them.
We all know that Ventell Bryant and Isaiah Wright are probably the most talented wide receiving tandem in the league but, after losing dynamic players like Keith Kirkwood and Adonis Jennings, it was important to find reliable backups. Enter Jadan Blue, who caught three touchdowns for the Cherry team in a 28-24 win. Sean Ryan, the true freshman from NYC, also looks like a contributor. If they can bring to the table what Kirkwood and Jennings did last year, there is not going to be a dropoff in the wide receiver room.
Bowl Winning Quarterback
With 40 bowl games, there were only 20 bowl-winning quarterbacks last year and many of them either graduated or will be in the NFL draft. That means Temple has one of the few proven bowl winners back in Frank Nutile. Fortunately, head coach Geoff Collins is showing no inclination to make Nutile a tight end. When Matt Rhule took over the program in 2013, he took a 2011 bowl-winning quarterback and made him a tight end. Those days are over and that bodes well for the 2018 season. That said, Collins said Temple is one of the few programs with four quarterbacks who are now ready to play. They only need three, so hopefully they can redshirt one.
Venue and Crowd
With 5,000 fans—every one of the 2,500 seats in the soccer stadium was taken and there were at least that many, maybe more, standing on the sidelines—this was the perfect venue for the Cherry and White game and Collins acknowledged that afterward.
It was pretty apparent to everyone there that the spot is probably more doable for a stadium than the Geasey Field location. Temple made a mistake putting the Olympic sports there and probably should be big enough to admit it should the politicians deny the university the proposed 15th and Norris location. I hate to be a party pooper, but I don’t see how the university overcomes the obstacle of closing 15th Street to build the new stadium so Broad and Master becomes a viable option in that it is ALL on Temple property and Temple can probably sue the city in state and federal court to build whatever it wants on that site. But that would take eating the $22 million mistake and building a football stadium on the site of the other sports stadiums. That said, speaking about pooping ….
Recruit Porta Potties
Without getting into names (there could be an NCAA violation involved), we were told there was at least one five-star and several four-star recruits in attendance. If the Owls’ recruiting class gets ranked higher this year, credit the “recruit-only porta potties” that were next to the recruit-only tent. That’s no shit (see lower right in the diagram at the top). I asked an all-time great Temple player who shall remain nameless if they had recruit-only porta potties when he was being wooed to Temple and he said, “I think they gave me a bottle to pee in.”
Wednesday: The difference a year makes
Friday: Pumping The Brakes