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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Temple Football Yet to Achieve Full Potential

The Owls are 2-0 to start the season for the first time since 1981. They opened the season with a Mayor Cup title over the in-state rival Villanova Wildcats and followed that up with a win over three-time defending MAC champions Central Michigan. But the nature of these two games has been unsettling.
The Owls defense has given up an average of 326.5 yards of total offense a game and the offense has turned the ball over in crucial situations in both games.
The running game has shown flashes of brilliance. There has a been a virtual split of carries between Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown. Pierce has effectively handled short yardage situations and Brown has displayed an exciting breakaway ability. Two of the three touchdowns scored by the offense so far have been by Pierce and Brown.

But the passing game has been suspect. Despite a respectable QB efficiency of 132.2, Chester Stewart has not shown the ability to be a successful pocket passer. He too often take sacks and has failed to protect the ball over the first two games, suffering two crucial fumbles that almost cost the Owls the game each time.
Defensively, it seems as though two different units show up in different situations. The Owls have given up on average almost 100 rushing and 250 passing yards a game. But against Villanova, the defense forced three consecutive three-and-outs to allow the Owls to come back and win. And in overtime against Central Michigan, junior free safety Kee-Are Griffin's interception setup Brandon McManus' game winning field goal. Temple's defense has shown up in pressure filled situations.
But this timeliness that has defined Temple's success over the first two games will not be enough when facing more difficult opponents. In the next two games against Connecticut and Penn State, the offense needs to be operated with a stronger sense of composure and the defense needs to play well consistently for Temple to have any shot at winning.  

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