Temple sinks Vandy; eyes Navy

Owls opened the 2014 season with a huge victory.

NCAA Football: Temple at Vanderbilt

Temple Owls players celebrate after a win against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium. Temple won 37-7. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

(C+P) — “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

Who knew that an Aristotle quote could be a way to describe what occurred Thursday night when the Temple Owls waited to kick off the 2014 season. Temple, who came in as a heavy underdog to Vanderbilt, defeated the Commodores in Nashville, 37-7.  While the win was a major step for the Owls program, a potential roadblock awaits them. That roadblock is Navy.

Navy possesses an entirely different attack. The triple-option rushing attack gave Ohio State defenders much trouble and allowed the Midshipmen to keep the game close.

The key to the entire Navy attack will be Keenan Reynolds. At 5-11, 195 pounds, Reynolds is not a big quarterback. However, he has excellent vision as a runner and is a good decision maker.

Temple Owls quarterback P.J. Walker (11) looks to pass the ball during the second half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)
Temple Owls quarterback P.J. Walker (11) looks to pass the ball during the second half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

The key to this game will be the Temple defensive linemen and linebackers. The linemen will have to be disciplined, control their gaps and get upfield. The linebackers will have to not be a victim of the countless misdirection that occurs with the offense and the secondary will have to come up and help support in the run game. Safety Alex Wells, one of the new members of the revamped Temple secondary, will miss the game due to a knee injury.

Most importantly for every defender, Temple will have to tackle well and limit the amount of yards after initial contact. Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb was able to get off to a fast start early in the game and at one point, averaged 7 yards a carry before the Owls were able to make adjustments. Navy was able to rush for almost 5 yards a carry.

The Temple offense did well capitalizing on turnovers and turning them into points. It will be safe to say that they will not force seven turnovers again in one game. One thing that the Owls will have to improve on is third-down efficiency. The offense only converted two of 17 third downs into first downs.

With Navy’s willingness to run the ball and control the time of possession battle, Temple will have to improve on third down. Another area that the Owls will have to improve upon is the running game. The Owls averaged 3.2 yards per carry. The run game will find itself facing a Navy defense that allowed the Buckeyes to run for 4.8 yards a carry.

The final key to the game Saturday will be head coach Matt Rhule. He has the task to make sure that his young team remains composed for this upcoming game. He said as much after the game Thursday.

“Everyone tells you that you are bad; you cannot believe it. Everyone tells you that you are good, and you cannot believe it” remarked the head coach.

With an FCS school in Delaware State following Navy on the schedule, the temptation is there to look ahead at the possibility of a 3-0 record. At practice this week, it will be interesting to see how the coaches will keep their players focused.

For the Owls, they hope that history will repeat itself. The last time Temple played Navy was in 2009, defeating the Midshipmen, 27-24. It was also the same year that they appeared in a bowl game, breaking a 30-year drought. Although it would not be as long of a stretch, Temple looks to continue on the road to becoming bowl eligible.



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