Thursday, October 20, 2011

Temple Blog Swap!

So we had the opportunity to do a blog swap with a Temple Blog, Buzz on Broad. You know how this works, I gave them 5 questions about Temple and they gave me 5 at BG.  Here are the questions I asked and what I found to be their very enlightening answers.

1.    When you look at Temple's season, you can't help but be surprised at the Toledo game.  Since then, Temple has had two straight shut outs and scored 76 points.  What happened in that Toledo game?  Do you think it might be different in a MAC Title rematch?

The Toledo game was really a combination of a lot of factors that all snowballed into each other. Temple's game is built upon controlling the clock and holding onto the ball, while Toledo's is about speed and keeping the defense on its heels. When you play a high-tempo offense, your defense needs time to rest. Unfortunately, an early botched punt return--on a terrible punt that hit one of the gunners, not really a Temple mistake--led to a touchdown, as did an interception, and Temple's offense was forced out of their rhythm. If Temple fields that punt correctly, the entire game could have turned out differently, that's how much of a chain reaction that game was. I think in the title game, if Chester Stewart can avoid overthrowing his receivers by 10 feet like he did twice against the Rockets, then the Owls have a very good chance of beating the Rockets--that game was closer than the score indicated, just turnovers killed it for the Owls

2.    Temple's defense is at historic levels.  A MAC team has not held its opponents in single digit scoring since 1990.  What impact has Chuck Heater had on the defense since arriving?

Well he's been a great influence, but they also happen to have a phenomenally talented defense, starting with the defensive line. Adrian Robinson is an absolute beast at defensive tackle, he's got four sacks on the season--you'll see him in the backfield a few times on Saturday. Tahir Robinson at linebacker has been another great piece for the Owls' defense with four sacks of his own to go along with 10 tackles for loss. When you can generate such power with a four-man rush, it becomes much easier for the linebackers to worry about the little things instead of having to put additional pressure on the quarterback all the time. Expect Temple to bring the pressure early but let the outstanding line play carry the defense late, if everything goes according to plan. Senior safety Kevin Kroboth runs the defensive backs and does a great job there as well, though the secondary is not as good as the front seven.

3.   Temple's offensive philosophy is pretty clear.  Talk about your two stud RBs...are their styles different or similar?

Run. Run. Run. That's the Temple offense, and they'll be doing quite a bit of it this weekend. The move from Matt Gerardi to Chester Stewart after the Penn State loss was definitely the right one--Stewart's a legitimate threat to run the ball, which forces defenses to consider him on any option play. The real stars in the running game are actually the offensive line, featuring four seniors and a load of experience. Obviously, the name that everybody's talking about this season is Bernard Pierce. He's already set the Temple single-season scoring and touchdown records, with 844 yards on the ground to go along with his national-best 17 touchdowns. Pierce is a bruiser with a decent second gear, but he doesn't have the quickness and open-field speed of his backup, Matt Brown. The pair have rushed for 100 yards each in both of the last two games, which tells you something about how often and how well the Owls run the ball.

4.   Saturday's game features two former OC's who were run out of the SEC by a dangerously unbalanced fan base.  Talk about Coach Addazio.  How has he built on what Al Golden started and how has he changed things?

Coach Addazio has this team fired up and playing incredibly well, no one can argue with that. This is a team that has a ton of heart and pride in what they've accomplished so far, though they definitely still have a chip on their shoulder--which seems to be a requirement if you play sports in Philadelphia. He's done a really impressive job of tapping into the Philly mentality and bringing it out in his players, and the hope is that the city continues to come around and see what's going on football-wise in North Philadelphia. From talking to the coaching staff, it seems they're very willing to tailor their offensive schemes to their players--when I asked offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler if they were looking for the next Tebow, he said they were looking for a kid with leadership qualities and other personality factors, and that whether or not he was a drop-back QB or an option quarterback was irrelevant, they would change the offense. So, he's really done a good job in that respect of taking Golden's players and not trying to run a completely new scheme and fit square pegs into round holes--he's definitely running a Tebow-esque scheme with Stewart in.

5.   Temple has been the only MAC school that has been involved in the conference realignment talk.  Are you happy with Temple in the MAC for football and A-10 for basketball, or would you be happier in the Big East--whatever form that might take?

The Big East is clearly not the conference it was a few years ago, or even a few weeks ago, but it's still a better conference than the MAC. Are Rutgers and UConn really great names in football? Obviously not--but to fans and the media, they're still more impressive names than Ball State or Western Michigan. All of these moves are based around money, and the fact is that Temple stands to benefit financially much more from being in a BCS conference with all the media attention that comes with it. More nationally televised games, more fans in the seats, bigger contracts with the networks and thus more revenue sharing--Temple stands only to gain from moving up to the Big East. Basketball-wise, they would still be playing against (as of now) Louisville, Marquette, Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's, Connecticut and a few others, which are yet again better names than Richmond, Fordham, and some of the other teams in the Atlantic 10. The Big East is definitely on shaky ground, but if a seismic shift does occur, Temple needs to do whatever they can to end up in a good position and stay in a major conference.

Click here to see how I answered the questions from the Philly boys.

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