Throwback Thursday: Kryptonite for Memphis

 

Fast-forward past the senior day stuff to see No. 19’s three TDs.

Every time I feel a little down and out, I take a look at that commercial with the blind young woman with a young daughter reaching for the washing machine dials and doing her daily work. Fortunately, I rarely get sick but I went to the doctor after being in pain all night and found out that I had an inner ear infection. Taking antibiotics and drops now in hopes it clears up and am still going to try to “Kyle Friend” it and limp to the Temple game on Saturday, but sometimes “Temple Smart” should trump “Temple TUFF” and this might be one of those times.

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Then, after getting back from Rite-Aid with prescriptions in hand this afternoon, I saw the commercial with the blind woman, girl really, and that put it all in perspective.

So, too, should it be for Temple fans today. All of us were a little (OK, a lot) down after losing 44-23 to South Florida last week, but things could be a lot worse. We could be fans of ECU or UCF.

Instead, we are fans of a team that has their fate in their own hands against a team it appears to match up relatively well against.

Memphis has been, historically, a team that Temple matches up well against and the reason is Robby Anderson. Last year, while watching a Temple team try to square peg a fullback, Kenny Harper, into a round hole, tailback, I thought of Anderson.

Even though Harper “Kyle Friended” it with a tough 75-yard run, he never really had the high-end speed you want from a featured tailback on a championship team. All last year, we wrote on this website that Harper would have been better off as the lead blocker for Jahad Thomas because he had done that role so well for Montel Harris in 2012. The offense last year was out of sync for that reason and for one other.

Robby Anderson wasn’t in the building.

Anderson had caught three touchdowns against Memphis the year prior and, if running quarterbacks are the Owls’ kryptonite, Anderson probably is the rock that crumbles the Memphis defense.

The Owls threw a pair of passes into the end zone against Memphis that would have been touchdowns if thrown to Anderson, but were dropped by other players who will not be mentioned because they are still with the program. They had a perfect wheel route dropped by Jamie Gilmore.

That’s where Thomas comes into play. He would not have dropped the same pass. If any of those three plays are made, the Owls win. All year long, I have been waiting for Anderson to have his breakout game and this would be the perfect time for it. Anderson is the kind of special talent that deserves a special nickname. If he catches a couple of touchdown passes on Saturday, I’ve got one.

Kryptonite.

A Logical Look at the Cincinnati Defense

captain

As bad as the Temple offense was a season ago, that’s about how bad the Cincinnati defense was over the same four months.

If Mr. Spock or Leonard Nimoy or anyone taking a logical look at this game tonight might conclude, how much Temple improved on offense vs. how much Cincinnati improved on defense really  are the only important variables in determining a winner. The Bearcats were the nation’s 54th-rated defense in 2013 but followed that up by dropping to the No. 69th-ranked defense.

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It’s hard to judge anything by a 52-10 win over Alabama A&M because that was a 4-8 FCS team a year ago. Last year, though, Cincinnati gave up 34 points to Toledo, 24 to Miami (Ohio), 50 to Ohio State, 41 to Memphis, 55 to Miami (Fla.), 46 to East Carolina, 31 to Houston and 33 to Virginia Tech. The fact that Temple scored only six was more of an indictment against Temple than praise of anything the Bearcats did.

Obviously, head coach Tommy Tuberville knew defense was the side of the ball he had to address last year so he either didn’t address it or the bandages he applied to the defense did not stop the bleeding. Let’s work on the first part of that theory. Tuberville, at Texas A&M, was a noted offensive mind and his teams won by concentrating on that side of the ball. Maybe he doesn’t place a whole lot of emphasis on defense.

Great photo of Temple AD Pat Kraft (with tie) going nuts. Those Thomas sweeps should be there tonight.

Great photo of Temple AD Pat Kraft (with tie) going nuts. Those Thomas sweeps should be there tonight.

The second part of the theory is that maybe the Bearcats do not have a whole lot of good players on that side of the ball and that seems to be also true. The strength of the defense appears to be the two interior tackles, while the Bearcats have not had acceptable play from the ends. That probably means the same kind of sweeps that worked for Jahad Thomas against Penn State will be there in abundance tonight.

In the secondary, Zach Edwards is arguably the best safety in the conference and will probably take away the middle of the field but those sideline patterns that worked so well for P.J. Walker to Robby Anderson in 2013 will be big-play opportunities.

If the Owls attack the edges with Thomas, then hit Anderson and Adonis Jennings with play-action plays away from the middle of the field, they should be able to get points off of this defense. Those quick outs that Anderson got tackled on against a good Penn State defense could turn into explosive plays downfield for Temple.

Hard to believe that a Cincy defense that dropped from 54 to 69 is going move from 69 to decent any time soon. At least, as Spock might say, it’s just not logical. Expect Temple to score 31 points tonight. Hard to believe even a good Cincinnati offense is going to get more than three scores against the Owls’ defense and probably less.

PSU vs. Temple: The Final Words

While the defense might have beaten PSU, I have a feeling Robby Anderson and the offense will have a big hand in beating Cincy on Saturday.

While the defense might have beaten PSU, I have a feeling Robby Anderson and the offense will have a big hand in beating Cincy on Saturday. Welcome back, Robby.  (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Amazing how in 24 hours Penn State went from terrific to terrible, but judging from the reaction in the middle of the Commonwealth, that’s exactly what happened.

For the 24 hours leading up to the game with Temple, this was supposed to be a special season in State College:

This according to SB Nation.

This according to SB Nation.

These are the results of a preseason poll in the Centre Daily Times.

These are the results of a preseason poll in the Centre Daily Times.

psu3

Now, all of a sudden, according to Penn State fans, the same Christian Hackenberg who was so good putting up 31 points against Boston College in his previous game now stinks, as does the same offensive line he was in front of that day. The same PSU team coached by a great coach in James Franklin is now coached by a bum named James Franklin. The same guy who caught 82 balls last year in the Big 10 cannot get any separation this season.

Nowhere in the post-game analysis up there is the sense that Temple could be better than anyone expected. No one even remotely thought that Temple’s corners, Sean Chandler and Tavon Young, were more than up to the challenge or that playing the 11 returning starters from the overall No. 4 scoring defense in the country might have had something to do with 10 points.

No one factored into the result that Temple might have been supremely motivated, having a full year to stew and game plan over a sub par performance last Nov. 14.

Usually, in scenarios such as these, the truth lies somewhere in between but not in this case. What we have is a lot of people saying “Temple sucks” and the “reasons we lost to them” range anywhere from the Owls doing a Deflategate to a Spygate. (Yeah, we think that thread is ridiculous, too.)

Guess what? Nothing changed in a little over three hours of football on Saturday.

I’ll stick my neck out right now and say that Penn State will win 10 games this year, just like many of those preseason prognosticators wrote and that will be affirmation of Temple’s goodness, not Penn State’s deficiencies. Even if Temple loses to Cincinnati on Saturday, the Owls will still have a good season as well. Maybe just as good if not better. What we had on Saturday is a classic case of overreaction, like many of the MAC posts (I’m talking about you, Akron fans) who said, “I can’t believe we lost to Temple.” They got used to it. Penn State will, too. For today’s denial to turn into tomorrow’s acceptance, both the Owls and the Lions will have to have good seasons. One result on Saturday does not change that reality.

Post-Mortem: The only negative thing about this day was remembering a bunch of great Temple fans who never lived to see it. I’m talking about Steve Bumm, who came up and introduced himself to me outside what could loosely be called men’s room at Franklin Field in the Dark Ages. Like many fellow Temple fans I’ve met in similar circumstances we became good friends. Steve ran the “City of Palms” High School Basketball Christmas Tournament in Florida for many years before he died at age 51.

steve

Or Shane Artim, who never missed a home game. Or Dan Glammer, who tried to make all of the away games as well. Both of those good men died at the tender age of 46. When their friend, Jay Solnick, celebrated birthday number 47 a few years ago, I told him he was now here to stay because if you could stand Temple football as it existed then past 46, you’ve crossed the proverbial Rubicon. There was Dave Edwards, better known as NJ Schmitty, who brought his own unique sense of gallows humor to the last years of Bobby Wallace and the first couple of Al Golden. Maybe he just kept a few people sane with that perspective. People always knew he was there with the giant white Temple ‘][‘ above the Chevy Conversion van. That van and that ‘][‘ will make a return on Oct. 10, his brother  told me on Saturday. Sadly, Schmitty will not but we know this Susquehanna University grad would have loved beating Penn State.

Wes Sornisky says something to Wayne Hardin after a 17-17 tie at Cincinnati.

Wes Sornisky says something to Wayne Hardin after a 17-17 tie at Cincinnati.

There are many,many more, but we’ll just end with former kicker Wes Sornisky, who died in a fire at the far-too-young age of 64 last Dec. 18. Wes was singularly responsible for bringing all of the old players back and plopping them down in the Jetro Lot. They kept coming back and the involvement of the football alumni, once nearly nonexistent, went up exponentially every year. He deserves a lot of the credit for it. The saddest thing is that Wes is buried in a Potter’s Field with no headstone in Delaware, but I have a feeling that, given some time, that sad circumstance will be rectified. When I got a little melancholy on Saturday about that, people told me not to worry because they were watching from Heaven.

I cannot say for sure, but I think it was better to be there live than to watch from Heaven. No. 1 on my bucket list is now crossed off.

Tomorrow: We’re On To Cincinnati

Anderson is X-Factor Against PSU

Hopefully, Matt Rhule has sat down with Robby and impressed upon him all those hand gestures that were legal 2 years ago are now 15-yard penalties.

When a school like Penn State regularly attracts over 100,000 fans to each of its home football games, the business of previewing every game both in print and on the internet is a lucrative one.

Newspapers are sold and site counters go out of control with every mention of each matchup with host Temple on Saturday. All of the things written about this game, almost none of them mention a guy that just about everyone will be talking about afterward and that is Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson. Only by Wednesday did Penn Live even mention him and that was a fine piece by a great writer named David Jones.

MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 30: Robbie Anderson #19 of the Temple Owls catches a touchdown pass against Andrew Gaines #28 of the Memphis Tigers on November 30, 2013 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. Temple beat Memphis 41-21. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

MEMPHIS, TN – NOVEMBER 30: Robbie Anderson #19 of the Temple Owls catches a touchdown pass against Andrew Gaines #28 of the Memphis Tigers on November 30, 2013 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. Temple beat Memphis 41-21. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Black Shoe Diaries, one of the best blogs ever, did a 1,000-word story on the matchups and did not even mention Robinson’s name.

The largely Penn State-focused press can certainly be forgiven for overlooking Anderson, since they have never seen him play, but many in Philadelphia have and are anxious to see him in action again. Anderson is the kind of weapon Temple fans are more than content to roll out at kickoff (3:30 EST, ESPN). Almost all of the Penn State-centric previews have focused on a repeat of last year’s matchups.

Anderson, who flunked out of Temple in January of 2014 as Robbie before his current resurrection and change of first-name spelling to Robby, brings a whole different dynamic to this one. When fans last saw him, in the 2013 finale at Memphis, he dominated the game, catching three touchdown passes in a 41-21 win. Memphis would go on to win the AAC last year.  That day, even though the Tigers rolled their coverages over to his side, they could not stop him.

It was the exclamation point on a spectacular 10-game season for the 6-3, 190-pound receiver, who caught 44 passes for 791 yards for nine touchdowns and averaged 18 yards-per-catch—the second highest average among all 126 FBS teams. Anderson has a remarkable skill set which includes a 44-inch vertical leap, sub-4.5-speed in the 40-yard dash and moves of a premier punt returner in the open field. In fact, he is also Temple’s starting punter returner this season.

Anderson’s late start  in 2013 can be chalked up to the fact that he was a defensive back in the spring and had to take care of family matters in Florida before rejoining the team later in the 2013 season. Just before a game at Idaho, Temple coaches tried him out at wide receiver and found that he and then true freshman quarterback P.J. Walker formed a cosmic connection and the rest was history.

Anderson will be on display for the nation to see on Saturday and, afterward, the question Penn State fans will be asking of their media is why they never heard of him.

Good Sign: Robby Anderson Sighting

Robby Anderson is on the far right, wearing his familiar No. 19.

Robby Anderson is on the far right, wearing his familiar No. 19.

Anyone who went to the Elmwood Park Zoo yesterday got a good sighting of a beast Penn State should fear the most and we’re not talking about a charging Rhino or an Alligator here.

Look who P.J.'s right-hand man is ....

Look who P.J.’s right-hand man is ….

We’re talking about Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson (and, yes, it is now officially Robby; more on that later). That has got to a be a good sign because Temple Summer Session II classes end on Friday and grades are released on Aug. 3. Temple head coach Matt Rhule said Anderson’s eligibility is tied to those Summer II grades. (His Summer I grades were more than acceptable.) This is not a case like Bernard Pierce in 2009, when the NCAA Clearinghouse waited until the week before the Villanova game to approve Pierce’s participation as a true freshman. In Pierce’s case, the NCAA was concerned about the Glen Mills’ course load, which was later approved. Pierce had 44 yards on six carries in his first college game. Had this issue been cleared up before then, he probably would have started and went for 100 plus.

robster

There is that best helmet in college football again with the buckle allowing the ‘][‘ to be clearly shown.

Penn State cannot cover him and I doubt it can even hope to contain him.

 

In Anderson’s case, his community college courses done in Florida were enough for him to be re-admitted to Temple and now his eligibility is tied to how he does here.

For Rhule to even allow Anderson to participate in a team function has to be a sign that the coach is satisfied with Anderson’s academic progress.

(Now to the spelling of Robby’s first name: Since he is now spelling it Robby, instead of Robbie, on his twitter account, that’s how we will spell it here henceforth and Temple Football Forever. Or at least until he changes his twitter account back to Robbie.)

Why is Anderson’s eligibility so important? Temple did not have a single game-changing offensive player Penn State could fear a year ago. Anderson is just such a player and his very presence in the Penn State game makes quarterback P.J. Walker a game-changing player and it makes running back Jahad Thomas a game-changing player and possibly SEC-talent-level tight end Colin Thompson a game-changing player. Heck, he makes Romond Deloatch more dangerous in the red zone. In my mind, Temple beats Penn State with him and it would be very difficult to win this game without him. Penn State cannot cover him I doubt it can even hope to contain him.

So, while Sept. 5 is the most important date in Temple football history, Aug. 3d is shaping up to be pretty darn important, too. Robby Anderson being at the Zoo made July 26th a good day for Temple football, just how good will be determined soon.

Robby Anderson: The Prodigal Son Returns

guest

One of the great stories in the Bible is when the Prodigal’s Son returns.
Such was the case on Monday at Temple football practice when wide receiver Robby Anderson returned to the school for the second time.
This time all indications are that it will be to stay.
Temple coach Matt Rhule played the role of the dad and welcomed the wide receiver back with open arms.
“We missed you, big guy,” Rhule said as he gave Anderson a hug.
“I messed up, coach,” Anderson said. “I promise I’m here to stay this time.”
The last time Anderson left, he had been playing cornerback on the defensive side of the ball a year ago. He had to take care of a few personal things and came back in September. His scholarship gone, Rhule told him that he would have to earn his spot back on the team as a walk-on.
Anderson did that and more, catching nine touchdowns in the last five games for the Owls, who were a lot more competitive with him than they were without him. He and freshman quarterback P.J. Walker had a special connection, like Sonny Jurgensen to Tommy McDonald and, more recently, Adam DiMichele to Bruce Francis.
When Anderson flunked out of school in January, there appeared to be little hope that he would return for a second go-round, but a story on a North Carolina athlete staying eligible piqued Anderson’s interest to return and maybe get some better counseling on which courses to take. Some phone calls to Temple followed and the school gave him another chance.
“I figured if that North Carolina guy who wrote that paper on Rosa Parks could stay eligible, I could apply myself, too and do the same,” Anderson said.
Anderson was referring to this paper:

This paper got an A- grade.

This paper got an A- grade.

“We found that Robby’s course load was too ambitious,” Rhule said. “He was taking Nuclear Physics, Aerospace Studies, Russian and Biochemistry. I asked my staff who was the idiot that approved that. They said it was me. My bad.”
In his quest to return to eligibility, Anderson is enrolled in the first summer session taking courses in Art History, Communications Studies, Dance and Film, Sports Business and Media Art. The Sports Business class is being taught by Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy. If Anderson gets by Summer Sessions I and II, he will be eligible to play football in September.
“Fran owes me a favor, just sayin’,” Rhule said.
When reached for a comment, Dunphy said he was out recruiting and did not know anything about it.
One more thing.
Happy April Fool’s Day everyone.

Related:

https://templefootballforever.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/skys-the-limit-for-6-11-walk-on-freshman/

https://templefootballforever.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/addazios-first-5-star-recruit-urban-meyer/

https://templefootballforever.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/big-10-explores-idea-of-adding-temple/