As Penn State prepares to take on its in-state "rivals" in Temple, we here at BSD turned to an authority on the Owls to gain some insight about the Lions' week three opponent. Mike Gibson is the writer of Temple Football Forever, the internet's
only premier blog covering the Owls, and he was gracious enough to answer our questions. Be sure to head over there for all your Temple needs as we head towards gameday on Saturday.
Black Shoe Diaries: When Al Golden left Temple to take the job at Miami, it seemed like he'd done the impossible in turning Temple into a contender, even in the MAC. How much higher are the expectations for Steve Addazio, and has the perception of Addazio changed since his hiring?
Temple Football Forever: I think the expectations are higher for Addazio, who has proven to be a better gameday coach than Al Golden, who did some things that had you scratching your head, like the Navy game when the Owls needed only to punt the ball away and give a triple option team less than 17 seconds to go 80 yards. Instead, he handed off to a running back, who fumbled ala Joe Piscarcik, and Navy scored on the play, taking the game into overtime and winning it. AG had several brain cramps like that during games. Addazio seems to be more in control of situations and has one of the best defensive coordinators in the country in Chuck Heater, who Urban Meyer called a "miracle worker" in CH's one year as "co" DC at Florida. He was the "real" DC. Heater was also an instrumental part of the defensive staff at Utah when the Utes went 11-0. Golden's strength was recruiting, but Addazio's second class was rated higher than any of the Golden classes so all systems appear to be go with Daz.
BSD: Chris Coyer didn't play much last year, but he put up some pretty awesome numbers, completing 60% of his passes with 6 TD and 0 interceptions and a YPA of more than 9 to go along with over 500 rushing yards. Is he the best Temple QB since, uh...yeah. Moving on, is there any chance we'll see old friend Kevin Newsome?
TFF: He's the best Temple quarterback since Adam DiMichele, who originally signed at Penn State. PSU fans never saw the "real" DiMichele since Maybin sacked him and knocked him out for half the season in the 2008 game (second offensive series). DiMichele was a real gutsy QB, but Coyer's almost as gutsy with a better skill set. In the Ohio game last year, as a relief pitcher, Coyer threw three touchdown passes and added 184 rushing yards in a 35-31 loss. Had Coyer played the first quarter, there's no doubt Temple would have won at Ohio. Yes, there is a chance that PSU sees Newsome, who is the third-team QB but is practicing with the second group of wide receivers. They won't see him at quarterback, where he's a distant third to Coyer and Juice Granger, but I have a feeling they will at WR.
BSD: Bernard Pierce graduated, but Temple picked up a free agent in former BC Eagle Montel Harris who was just about as good last year. With Harris and Matt Brown, and Coyer's athletic ability, how good is this Owl run game? Good enough to run against this Penn State front 7?
TFF: I don't think Temple can line up and expect to pound the ball against Penn State. The runs will have to be off a more balanced attack, which is the spread Daz talked about all preseason and used only sparingly in the first two games. Daz said he now has the three QBs to "run the offense I wanted to run here." Last year, Chester Stewart and Mike Gerardi were not spread QBs and Daz ran more of the power I. If he's going to show the spread, this would be a good time.
There's plenty more after the jump, including Mike's prediction for how this one shakes out. Does he think Temple can do the unthinkable and end the losing streak?
BSD: Temple's defense lost a lot of pieces from last year's fantastic unit. Who will need to step up for the Owls to have a successful season?
TFF: Vaughn Carraway has already stepped up at the free safety position. He originally committed to Michigan as a wide receiver, then decided he wanted to play closer to home. At Muhlenberg High, near Reading, Carraway was rated the No. 3 WR in the state as a senior. Nate D. Smith, the younger brother of former Eagle tight end L.J. Smith, is playing well at MLB, so that's two position upgrades right there from last year's defense. They are struggling at one corner (Zamel Johnson) and I would not be surprised he's replaced by Saturday.
BSD: Three weeks ago, following bad losses from both Penn State and Pitt, and Temple's blowout win over Villanova, the idea that Temple was the best football team in Pennsylvania suddenly didn't seem so crazy. Then, the Terrapins came to Philly and ran up a 23-point halftime lead before the Owls made the final score respectable. What went wrong two weeks ago, and how can Penn State take advantage?
TFF: Chris Coyer, who was unbeaten as a starter and MVP of the New Mexico Bowl, played that entire game with a 101.5-degree temperature. He had intravenous treatments before the game and at halftime, but he wasn't himself in the first half especially. He's back to a 98.6 temperature this week, so I don't think PSU can take advantage. Also, the Terps took advantage of a Matty Brown fumble on the opening series and two bad snaps in the shotgun over Coyer's head (both lost possessions, one a safety). Temple is going to eschew the shotgun this week except in the two-minute drill and that seems to have solved that problem. The offense put the defense in an impossible position all day, but the Owls did come back and make it a 29-27 game with seven minutes left. Montel Harris, the ACC's second-leading all-time rusher, did not play that game but will play against Penn State. He's not the home run hitter Bernard Pierce was, but is better at chewing up the clock with 8-10-12-15-yard runs. Pierce was more likely to go 1-2 and then 70.
BSD: How do you see this game going? Is this the year that Temple ends the drought?
TFF: I thought before the year started Temple would win this game, 17-7. Because of the Navy-PSU game and the Maryland-TU game, I've adjusted that score in the 20-17, 24-21, range. It might come down to the team that has the better placekicker. Brandon McManus is pretty good.
Well, there you have it. Thanks again to Mike and be sure to head over to Temple Football Forever this week and all season long. Let's just all hope his prediction is way off.