This week our blogger Q&A series brings us to longtime Temple Owl blogger Mike Gibson of Temple Football Forever. Having lived in the suburban Philadelphia area for ten years I always followed the Temple program on the side of my Penn State obsession, so I've been a fan of Temple Football Forever for a few years now and I suggest you include it in your daily reading for the sheer entertainment value of Mike's excellent writing.
Let's move on to the questions. Mike Gibson, you are officially on the BSD hotseat. Go.
I'm looking at the boxscore trying to figure out how Temple lost to Villanova. The Owls outgained the Wildcats by 100 total yards and 75 yards on the ground. What happened in that game?
I wrote before the game that "Temple's No. 1 priority should be getting to the quarterback." Evidently Al Golden and Mark D'Onofrio don't read my blog because, although they sacked Whitney five times, they played essentially a prevent defense (rush four, cover with seven) and he picked them apart all night. Inexplicably, Temple played a prevent on the final drive, which allowed Whitney to dink and dunk down the field or the game-winning field goal. When you turn the ball over at midfield with a minute left, it's time to blitz and get a sack. That never happened.
Vaughn Charlton threw three interceptions against the Wildcats. Is there a chance Golden could give Chester Stewart a shot in this game to see what he can do? What does each guy bring to the table?
I have a feeling Vaughn's going to be on a short leash. He throws an exceptional long ball, really one of the best deep throwers I've ever seen, but he has a lot of trouble on short timing patterns. All three of his interceptions were thrown right to Villanova players without a Temple player within 20 yards of the play. Really inexplicable. Chester's a threat as a runner, but he's no Randall Cunningham or even Adam DiMIchele. Chester's a better athlete and a better short tosser.
This is year four of the Al Golden era. Obviously great progress has been made since 2005 when the Owls didn't win a single game, but the loss to Villanova is a major setback for a team that was expected to compete for their division. Is there a sense among the Temple fans and alumni that maybe he has hit a plateau and taken this team as far as he can?
There definitely is a sense that he's a great recruiter who has come up short on a lot of game days, not just Villanova. Against Navy, he could have taken a knee, let the clock run down and kick to the Middes with a touchdown lead and 17 seconds left. Navy, a triple option team, would have had to go at least 80 yards with no time outs. Instead, he handed off to Griffin, who fumbled. Navy picked it up and ran it in to send the game to overtime. Against UConn, with a 6-0 lead and 3:39 left, Golden went for it on 4th and 1 at his own 34. His own 34. I could see if he was down, 6-0, but he was up, 6-0. Golden is definitely learning how to be a head coach on the job and Temple fans are the guinea pigs.
A poll ran on Owlscoop.com and asked "who is the better coach, Fran Dunphy or Al Golden?" Dunphy got 60 votes and Golden five. Sixty to five.
How do Temple fans view this ongoing series with Penn State? Is this just a friendly game among in-state schools that helps Temple pay the bills? Or is there some resentment for having to play three out of every four games in Happy Valley against a smug super power that doesn't respect them?
If you are Temple, you have no leverage. I would say the great majority of Temple fans are happy to get Penn State back on the schedule. Golden is gradually closing the talent gap. I think most Temple fans hope the talent gap closes soon, especially when blue-chip freshman quarterback Chris Coyer (who turned down an Ohio State offer) gets his sea legs.
Football is about maximizing your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses. What do you perceive to be Temple's biggest strength and weakness?
Temple's biggest strength: Overall defense, particularly linebackers Amara Kamara, John Haley, Alex Joseph.
Weakness? A playmaker at quarterback. Temple fans have been spoiled by Adam DiMichele, who always seemed to make a play to get the first down on every third and long. I'm sure it just seemed that way. It's a shame Penn State fans never saw the real Adam DiMichele, except for one productive series last year. The best Temple can hope from Charlton and/or Stewart is to manage the game. Last year, they had a guy who could win the game. Big difference.
How do you see the game playing out on Saturday?
Even though Akron's last two losses have been to Temple and Penn State by roughly the same scores (27-6 and 31-7), I think PSU poses severe matchup problems for Temple at the important positions of quarterback and wide receiver.
But I do think Temple will score 14 points and hang around for awhile, say a 35-14 PSU win. However, if Temple pulls another minus-4 turnover trick, it''ll be another 45-3 game. I don't think that'll happen twice in a row. Gosh, I hope not.
Thanks, Mike. You are officially off the BSD Hotseat. Good luck on your season.
Be sure to go read Mike's Penn State preview, and then check out his fascinating post about the history of this series. SPOILER ALERT: Despite the lopsided record in Penn State's favor, Temple wasn't always the pushover they seem to be.