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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Temple Football: A Tale of Two Teams

The Temple Owls are 7-2. They are in first place in the MAC Eastern conference in which they have posted a 4-1 record. They are undefeated at home and are currently in the midst of a three game winning streak. 
Numbers like these may lead one to believe that this is a very successful team, and that fans should be happy and proud of the Owls' effort. While this is true, a look at the Owls' season as a whole so far tells the story of two separate teams that have clashed with each other and ultimately caused the Owls to underachieve.
The Owls started their season 3-0. Their offense struggled at times under starting quarterback Chester Stewart, but the defense often bailed them out in some close games early.
The Owls then went on a 1-2 stretch in which they posted losses to Penn State and Northern Illinois. Stewart threw four interceptions over the two losses and the Temple offense crippled under his lead.
Stewart continued his poor play in week seven against Bowling Green. He was benched after throwing a costly first quarter interception that was returned for a touchdown to give the Falcons an early lead. Redshirt junior quarterback Mike Gerardi took over for Stewart, and after throwing an eighty yard touchdown on the second pass of his collegiate career, led the Owls to a 28-27 comeback win. 

Gerardi has taken every snap for the Owls since, leading them to a 2-0 record in which they have outscored their opponents 72-0. 
It seems the past two weeks has demonstrated how good this team can be when it is firing on all cylinders. While the defense has performed much better, the glaring discrepancy between the first half of this year and the recent string of success is the play at quarterback. 
Gerardi has demonstrated that he can do what is necessary to put his team in a position to win. He has turned the ball over just twice in his three career appearances, posting a quarterback efficiency of 175.1. Stewart, on the other hand, often did as much to put his team in a position to lose as he did to win. Stewart threw five interceptions, lost eight fumbles, and consistently missed wide open receivers downfield  in his seven starts.
So yeah, the Owls are 7-2. They are red hot and are in prime position to win another MAC Conference championship. But when you step back at look at the season as a whole, you can't help but wonder how good they could have been.

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