Temple Owls: An Objective Primer - The Addendum

After posting the Temple stats post, I received an email* from a BSD reader that was kind enough to go into even more detail regarding the stats. Seeing as how this is Week Three and it's Temple, the numbers on the original post aren't too in-depth, so it was nice to see that someone took the time to break down some of the data in ways that we'll get to once Big Ten play starts. To enjoy!


Dear Mr. Junstrom:

I've been attempting to tell anyone who will listen that the statistics for Temple's rush defense are artificially deflated by net sack yardage. If you look at the play-by-play breakdown (which I did because my job isn't all that demanding right now), you will see that Akron's redshirt freshman tailback torched them for 5.5 yards per carry for the game and an incredible 6.1 yards per carry in the first half.

Additionally, Temple fumbled the ball four times against Akron, including one each by the starting quarterback and the two featured tailbacks.

The way I see it, if Penn State learns to catch the ball and the defense can keep Bernard Pierce on the inside of the field, I figure Penn State should win this one in a walk. The last one maybe tough, though, because Temple really tries to attack the edge in a zone-read offense from the shotgun formation. If they do line up in a power formation and attempt to run inside, they like to bring a tackle or tight end from the other side of the formation for a seal block to allow Pierce to pop upfield and bounce to the outside.

Please see below the following research from some of my other posts at the Harrisburg Patriot-News website.

Verbal Kint**

"Look, I'm a big fan of what Al Golden did at Temple. It was awesome. But Al Golden isn't there anymore and I think Temple may be something of a paper tiger. The Owls have played nobody in their first two games. Akron was 1-11 in 2010 and Villanova is an FCS school. Granted Temple hung a 40-burger on both of them, but the scores are misleading. In the first halves of Penn State's two games, the Nittany Lions allowed a total of 76 yards on 26 carries or 2.9 yards per rush. Against Alabama, the defense allowed only 60 yards in the first half on 16 carries (or 3.75 yds/att). Conversely, the Owls, while playing significantly weaker competition in both games, allowed 122 yards on 26 carries (4.69 yds/att) in the first halves of their games. Against Akron (again 1-11 in 2010), the Temple front seven permitted 56 yards on 11 carries (5.5 yds/att). Jawon Chisholm (from Harrisburg High), a freshman, torched the Owls defense for 63 yards on 12 attempts (5.2 yds/att).

This game is going to be decided on the ground and in the trenches, as they most often are. They say there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. Sorry, but statistics can provide a context and here it is. The Penn State rush defense is a lot better than Akron or Villanova. Bernard Pierce will not run for 150 yards against the Penn State defense nor will average 7.83 yards per carry in the first half. Not gonna happen. On the other hand, I don't believe Silas Redd will average 3.28 yards per rush against a Temple defense that allowed 60 yards in the first half to a hapless Akron team. I see Silas, Brandon, Stephfon and company much closer to the 7.6 yards per carry they recorded against Indiana State.

But hey, I'm a forgiving sort of guy, so let's say that Temple does manage to limit the PSU rushing attack to the average put up by the Akron Zips in the first half. If Penn State runs the ball on the average they've established in the first two games (19 times) then Penn State has 105 yards rushing in the first half. Nearly doubling the yardage allowed by Temple in their first two games.

All of this is to say "simmer down now" to the Temple bandwagon and the Penn State doomsayers. Temple is good, but MAC good. There's a reason they call these games "MACrifices." Penn State is good, too. Big Ten good. Don't be surprised to see Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State sweating it out until the end of the regular season. Finally, Alabama is also good. National championship good. Don't be surprised to see them holding another crystal football at the end of the year.

Calm it down people. As you were."


"Hey, I don't want people to misunderstand me. I'm not saying Penn State wins because they "show up" or that Temple has never beaten Penn State. History is irrelevant. We're talking about these two teams right here in the present. And I'm sorry, but if you can't hold the freshman tailback from Akron to less than 5 yards per carry (Note: Chisholm had 2.0 yds/att against essentially Ohio State's second team defense), how do you expect to fare against Silas Redd who averaged 3 ypc and Brandon Beachum who averaged 5+ ypc against Alabama's first-team defense, 8 of which are ranked among the NFL's top 150 draft prospects.

Listen, I'm a Penn State fan. I make no bones about it. But a 12-year winning streak doesn't strap on pads or a helmet, and if Temple lets that determine the outcome of the game, then they shouldn't be playing in NCAA Division 1-A. I suspect that the current crop of Owls couldn't give a hoot (pun intended) about what the previous teams did against Penn State. They want to win and will work hard for it.

Unfortunately, here's the tale of the tape - Temple is founded on running the football with Bernard Pierce. Our rush defense is better than it was last year, when he averaged only 4.2 ypc in the first half before getting injured. The defensive line is better (has anyone seen a DT hit a RB harder than Still hit Richardson this weekend?). The linebackers are better. The secondary is better. So Temple is going to have to either execute flawlessly or rely a little more on their quarterback, who has never played a defense like this one.

Penn State's strength, assuming nothing has changed from Alabama (although I'm hoping we've finally settled on Bolden and the wide receivers remember they're supposed to catch the ball rather than wave at it as it passes by) is our running game, and, based on the first two weeks, Temple's rush defense just doesn't match up. Again, how can a person realistically say that a defense that couldn't stop Jawon Chisholm (from Harrisburg High) from averaging 6.1 ypc in the first half, when the game still mattered, is somehow magically going to tighten up and stop Silas Redd and Brandon Beachum? It just doesn't make sense.

That's why I'm not panicking about Penn State this weekend, and neither should anybody else. It's a winnable game - but Penn State better get out there and execute like they should or Temple will beat them. And history has nothing to do with it."


* - reprinted with permission
** - the names have been changed to protect the innocent

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