Showing posts with label Syracuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Syracuse. Show all posts

Friday, November 23, 2012

Game Day Preview: At least the weather is good

The weather at UConn on Oct. 13 (above) was colder than is forecast for today.
The weather (above) for Philadelphia on Nov. 23.


"Having 500 yards of rushing for Coach Daz is like giving an addict another baggie of crack. We may never see another forward pass."
_ Fan post on Scout.com
Steve Addazio's affinity for the running game reminds me of my obsession with the lottery.
It never does me any good, but I keep going back to it every Saturday.
If 1-3-13-19-20 and 6 come up this Saturday, I will be writing my next posts from Clearwater Beach and waiting down there for the six weeks it will take for some of the early pitchers and catchers to report.
Before I hitch my brand new Chevy Volt to a chartered Auto Train in Lorton (Va.), I will donate $200 million to Temple to start its own stadium fund. I think I can scrape by on the remaining $156 mil. (I'll stop by the house of the lone TFF donor from Lorton beforehand and give him a $1 million check for believing in me when I was poor.)
Otherwise, I still will be up here pounding the payment.
If the numbers 351 and 7, as in yards and touchdowns for Montel Harris, comes up Friday, Addazio and his Temple Owls will probably be going bowling. (Yeah, I know the Owls will be a five-win team, but they will be the only five-win team with just six losses and the hottest running back in the country.)
Neither my winning the lotto or those numbers coming up for Daz will happen, but I know I'm willing to lay odds against either of us trying.
The Army game was, as Jeffrey Lurie might say, Fool's Gold.  Army was ranked 118th in rushing defense. Syracuse is ranked 43d in the same category. Big difference. If Temple approaches Syracuse with the same game plan it took to West Point, the Owls will be the team losing, 63-32.
Somebody had a great line on Scout.com the other day about that and I wish I could give him credit but I'm afraid he'd get in trouble so here's the perceptive fan post of the year:

"Having 500 yards of rushing for Coach Daz is like giving an addict another baggie of crack. We may never see another forward pass."
Why do I get the feeling that the first three plays Friday morning will be Harris off-tackle right, followed by Harris off-tackle left and a read option that goes for no gain?

To me, that's the wrong way to go but I've been saying that all year and I now know Daz doesn't give a wit what I think.
Temple's best chance of  moving the ball and keeping it out of Ryan Nassib's hand is to deftly fake it to Montel Harris on A LOT of first downs, then make "explosive plays in the passing game downfield" to spread the defense and get the eight out of the box.
With Harris' history established as the Owls' chief offensive weapon, a play-fake to him is likely to freeze the defense long enough that Jalen Fitzpatrick and Ryan Alderman and company will be so open in the seams that both will probably be frantically waving their hands above their heads.
That way, the Owls can go back to Harris and the running game a lot more effectively, chew up large chunks of each quarter and salt away an important victory over the Saltine Warriors.
Why do I get the feeling that the first three plays Friday morning will be Harris off-tackle right, followed by Harris off-tackle left and a read option that goes for no gain?
If Daz proves me wrong for the first time all year, that will be a little like winning the lottery without the monetary reward.
If not, I will still always have Saturdays to look forward to at about 11 p.m.

Tomorrow: Complete game analysis and Saturday football picks

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Throwback Thursday: The last time vs. SU




A week ago, Temple had a one-man show putting up 63 points in a win at Army, courtesy of Montel Harris.
Funny, because the last time Temple played Syracuse at Lincoln Financial Field was also a one-man show.
Trust me, at 6-3, 240, you did not
want to tackle this guy in open field.
The man was quarterback Walter Washington.
The show was 185 yards rushing, 130 more yards passing that accounted for all of Temple's touchdowns in a 34-24 win over visiting Syracuse.
The Orange, coached by Paul Pasqualoni, went on to a winning season.
The game was the highlight for Temple and its second win in a two-win season.
Despite winning only two games, Washington, an All-American JUCO out of Dodge City (Kan.), was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year.
Ironically enough, this TU-SU game, also at Lincoln Financial Field, will feature a JUCO All-American quarterback playing for Temple in Juice Granger (Pierce Junior College, Calif.).
Washington was an unstoppable force in 2004, often carrying multiple defenders as many as 15 yards downfield to get his yardage.
Another great day in the TU-SU series, the 1982 game.
He turned down his final year of eligibility at Temple in order to go to pro football. That didn't work out too well, since he spent the 2005 season in the stands with Temple fans lamenting his decision.
But he gave Temple fans a terrific memory in 2004 and the Owls their second-straight win over Syracuse in Philadelphia.
Two years earlier than that, Mike McGann and Tarnardo Sharps led the Owls to a 17-16 win over the Orange in a game played at Veterans Stadium.
This year's memories and principal players are yet-to-be-determined but, if Granger and Harris can pick up where Washington, McGann and Sharps left off, the Owls could be in pretty good shape.

Friday: Game Day Preview

Monday, November 19, 2012

You think you've got troubles?

Every time I start to feel sorry for myself that I still haven't found a job in the newspaper business after cutbacks cost me mine and the money is about to run out (there still is a newspaper business, right?), I see something that I have to shake my head about and thank God for my blessings.
Lately, it was a story about a poor military guy who lost both legs in Afghanistan or Iraq and is keeping on keeping on.
I plan to do the same, although the next step might be as a greeter at Wal-Mart. I'll keep my hand in writing here.
That brings me to fandom.
A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling sorry because my university, a school I said was going to shock the Big East world a couple of months ago, was getting pasted for the fourth straight time by a Big East team.
It rocked my world, but it could be worse.
I could be a Boston College fan.
I found this while searching a Boston College fan site the other day:

This from a Boston College fan lamenting a bad day in a bad season.

Montel Harris was trending on Yahoo late Saturday afternoon.
It was the second item right below General Patraeus.
That's good news for Temple, bad news for Boston College.
While Temple is 4-6 with two more Big East wins than many of the pundits thought possible, Boston College is a two-win team looking for a new head coach.
The Eagles have a great on-campus stadium, but a terrible product and the guy who they kicked off the team is doing pretty well at Temple.
Yes, it could be worse.
In life and in fandom.

Wednesday: A tribute to the seniors

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Better late than never

Montel Harris (8) needs a lift  to see what is distracting Cody Booth (38) and Wyatt Benson (44).

Two phrases rattled around my head during the fourth quarter of Temple's 63-32 win at Army on Saturday:

  • That's more like it.
  • Better late than never.

This is the Temple football team I envisioned back in August and September.
No, I'm not crazy enough to think that Montel Harris would have gone for 351 yards and seven touchdowns every Saturday but I thought both Harris and Matty Brown could go near or over 100 yards each game and that their running ability would set up some "explosive plays downfield in the passing game" that head coach Steve Addazio promised in the summer.
Temple football records Saturday:
Most rushing yards game individual: Montel Harris (351)

Most touchdowns game individual: Montel Harris (7)

Most career points individual: Brandon McManus (332).
Most touchdowns game by a Big East team (9).
Whatever the Owls lacked on defense I thought could be made up by an offense turning the Lincoln Financial Field scoreboard into an adding machine.
And, I thought, that would have been good for at least six wins and, maybe, as many as eight.
Now, the best the Owls can do is five because those explosive plays in the passing game never materialized, simply because the Owls stubbornly tried to pound the rock against bigger, more talented, defensive fronts for most of October and November. They might as well have been pounding their heads against a rock with that misguided approach.
The Owls were just as stubborn on Saturday in a 63-32 win over Army, but they could afford to do that against a team ranked near the bottom of the country in rushing defense.
They also helped themselves by eliminating the turnovers which, as Michael Vick can tell you, is the key to winning any football game.
If the Owls can somehow parlay Syracuse's fear of Harris (and Brown) into some, err, explosive plays downfield in the passing game (perhaps off a fake to Harris on an early down), they can make a statement that they are ready to make a run at the top of the Big East ladder next year by rudely sending Syracuse off to the ACC.
The Owls won't have Montel or Matty next year, but Jamie Gilmore and "Montrell" Dobbs figure to have the requisite three-star talent to pick up where those two left off.
And, pretty much, the rest of the team is back although I'd like to see a serious upgrade in the defensive secondary (hint: Kevin Newsome).
Harris' performance was an eclipse that obscured a lot of other good things on Saturday, but it should not go unnoticed that Brandon McManus set the school record for career points by an individual, breaking Bernard Pierce's standard of 324. McManus needed four going into Saturday's game.
Another great kicker, high school All-American Jim Cooper, Jr., arrives for summer classes in July.
Other than that, as Jose from Norristown might say, it was amazing to see how much misinformation is out there.
Twice during the game, CBS Sports announcers said that Harris was the "leading rusher all-time in the history of the ACC' and, later, the "15th-leading rusher all-time in the history of the ACC."
Both were wrong.
In reality, Harris is still the second-leading rusher in the history of the ACC, falling 828 yards short of Ted Brown's record set at North Carolina State. He is only 50 yards away from another 1,000-yard season.
I was privileged to see Paul Palmer's 349-yard game against East Carolina and Saturday's performance by Harris was even better, both on the stat sheet and stylistically.
Harris will have spent only one year here but he will always be remembered by me as a warrior and a great Temple Owl.
So will Brown and McManus and the rest of the seniors.
They deserve to go out in front of a large, appreciative home crowd on Friday.


Tomorrow: You think you've got troubles?
Tuesday: ???
Wednesday: A tribute to the seniors 
Thursday: Throwback Thursday 
Friday: Game Day Preview

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Throwback Thursday: The infamous call at UConn



Temple people have moved on from injustice, but the animals (below) are still having a cow.

Throwback Thursday this week was supposed to be about Scott Andrien's remarkable catch that beat Syracuse in 1982, but the gentleman I met in the parking lot on Saturday who promised to send me photos of that play either forgot to do so or forgot that he promised me.
No matter.
Fans driving by a busy intersection this week saw this.

We'll save that throwback for Syracuse week.
We'll keep the throwback theme intact for UConn and that's the infamous game of 2007, when the Owls beat UConn, 23-22 (extra point not even counted), as Bruce Francis clearly caught a tipped ball by Adam DiMichele.
Great play, though. I love passes off reverses and I hope to see former Big 33 quarterback Jalen Fitzpatrick, now the Owls' top receiver, throw one some game.
Why Dyonne Crudup was throwing to DiMichele and not the sure-handed Francis (who never juggled a ball once in his four-year career at Temple) is a story for another day, but my guess is that most Temple fans have moved on from that miscarriage of justice.
So have I, even though I was sitting on the side of the field where I could clearly see the ball stick to his one hand like crazy glue and the foot come down about 10 inches inside the back line.
I used to have a cow about it, but now only cows are having a cow.
Bruce Francis was so sure he caught it, he immediately called
for the protest flag to be thrown by Al Golden.
The photo above and to the right, taken in suburban Philadelphia this week (we won't say where to keep the cownappers away), shows Larry Holstein (yes, that's the cow's name) still protesting the call of Big East replay official Jack Kramer, who might as well have been Kramer from Seinfeld because that call was a joke.
Unlike Larry, though, the day I moved on was when Temple beat UConn by two touchdowns. Both teams finished 8-4 that year and UConn went to the Fiesta Bowl while Temple stayed home.
Those days of an 8-4 Temple team staying home are over, thanks to a BCS conference affiliation.
Still, the Big East has not been immune to calls that it protects its teams against other conferences (although I'm waiting for that to benefit Temple some day).
At Syracuse last year, a Big East crew ruled a clearly made extra point by Toledo missed and 'Cuse went on to win the game in overtime.
I've always written that non-conference games should have crews from neutral conferences. The Penn State vs. Temple game, for example, should have had a field crew from the Sun Belt and a replay official from the PAC-12. Instead, there was a field crew from the Big 10 and a replay crew from the Big East.
Take the competing conferences crews away and all of the conspiracy theorists will be restricted to talking about Freemasons, the Kennedy assassination Temple home attendance figures.
Hopefully, the NCAA will wise up and do that in the future.
Now, though, things should be decided on the field since Temple is back in the BE.
Hopefully, this game won't come down to a controversial call either way.
Or I'll have a cow.

Tomorrow: Gameday preview 24 hours early