In preparation for this week's game against Temple, we asked Temple Football Forever's Mike Gibson to give us a little more information about the Owls:
BSD: Temple has blown out its first two opponents in grand fashion (83-10 cumulative score, 891 total yards), although Villanova appears to be in a rebuilding season and Akron is one of the worst teams in the MAC. Still, Temple will have plenty of confidence going into the home game against Penn State. How has Steve Addazio's influence (along with his coordinators) influenced the team's overall attitude and preparation, and how much has changed schematically from last season?
TFF: Addazio is night and day better than Golden, particularly on game day. Last season, you saw a Temple team that had a "dog stare" huddle, where the entire team would look to the sideline to get the play. You won't see that this year. Scot (one T) Loeffler (who was QB coach at Michigan for Tom Brady and QB coach at Florida for Tim Tebow) really has a clue on playcalling that Matt Rhule, Golden's offensive coordinator, did not. Last year, a typical TU offensive series was run, run, sack, punt. This year, Loeffler establishes the run behind stone cold stud Bernard Pierce and then incorporates a little play-action waggle type play or takes shots on play action downfield once the fear of BP getting the ball is established. On defense, Chuck Heater (who was Defensive Coordinator at 12-0 Utah) won't sit back in a bend-but-don't-break like Mark D'Onofrio did. He brought seven blitzes against Villanova from all different angles. His team had 8 sacks at Akron. This guy knows his stuff. These are big-time SEC coaches, not MAC coaches.
BSD: Bernard Pierce is back, healthy, and running wild. What other offensive weapons should Penn State be concerned about?
TFF: Deon Miller, a 6-5 "Plaxico Burris" type, has performed well on one side. Rod Streater, a state high jump champion while at Northern Burlington (N.J.) in high school, and senior Joey Jones are the more explosive downfield-type receivers. Evan Rodriguez, a West Virginia transfer, is an All-MAC returning first-team TE.
BSD: Last year, Temple's defense frustrated the Penn State offense until a late touchdown drive led by Rob Bolden. How does this defense compare to last year's edition?
TFF: Much better simply because the D-line overall is bigger, quicker and deeper and Heater is putting 2009 MAC Defensive Player of the Year (and former Big 33 MVP) Adrian Robinson in a better position to rush the QB. D'Onofrio gave AR some pass coverage responsibilities and that took away from his sack total.
BSD: We didn't see Mike Gerardi last season in Happy Valley. What are his strengths and weaknesses as a quarterback?
TFF: You won't see Gerardi throw three God-awful picks like Chester Stewart did last year in Happy Valley. He won't beat you with his feet, like Adam DiMichele did to many foes but then he won't make the big mistakes. He throws a real nice deep ball and needs to get more consistent with his intermediate throws. Overall, the former first-team all-stater at Parsippany Hills in New Jersey (with Matt Simms, a co-first-teamer) is a solid game manager. If Stewart gets in the game, Penn State wins. Simple as that.
BSD: Your work over at Temple Football Forever indicates that you have a pretty good feeling about the game. What needs to happen for Temple to win?
TFF: Bernard Pierce needs to stay in the game. This kid is a stone-cold stud who Addazio said is as good as any SEC back he saw while at Florida. That's just not coachspeak. This kid is a tremendous football player who, while messing around with track in his senior year at Glen Mills won the state 100-meter dash. I saw four years of Paul Palmer, who was the runnerup for the Heisman Trophy at Temple in 1986 (to Vinny Testaverde). This kid is better than Palmer. Bigger, stronger, faster, greater stop-start vision in the hole and a better burst to the outside. The only thing Palmer had on BP was his durability. Palmer had 225 an a pair of touchowns in a 25-22 loss at Happy Valley. I look for BP to get two bills and two TDs against this PSU team. If so, Gerardi uses that fear of BP to go up top for a play-action TD pass to Jones and/or Streater. Temple is a far more talented team than Indiana State and PSU is far more talented than Akron and Villanova. That's why this game is fascinating to me and I think it will be entertaininng to the end.