If you’re in Philly, Lincoln Financial Field is the place to be this time of year. The city goes birdwatching from September to February. Yes, you read that right. Between the Eagles and the Temple Owls, it’s time to grab your binoculars!
I did just that last night in Temple’s season opener against the Army. Unfortunately, I didn’t need any extra high-def to see that this team isn’t quite what we saw last season. Army, who went 2-10 in 2015, managed to pull off a major 28-13 upset to start the year. A couple name changes and big names missing from the roster may be the biggest challenges for Temple to overcome.
1. Choosing between Thomas and Armstead could be the best problem to have at RB.
Senior superstar RB Jahad Thomas was out yesterday with a hand injury. He is easily considered Walker’s go-to in a first down situation- or any scoring situation for that matter. Ryquell Armstead had big shoes to fill in his absence, but he stepped up with an important touchdown in the second quarter. He finished the game with only 77 yards on 16 carries, but he shows promise at the running back position moving forward.
2. Defense and special teams are still dynamic.
After the game, Army coach Jeff Monken still acknowledged the fact that our d-line made them work for each and every yard. The numbers don’t reflect that, considering Army’s offense ran for 329 yards on the day, but many of the mistakes made were on the offensive side of the ball. On special teams, Sharif Finch got the fourth blocked punt of his career in the second quarter. Using these strengths to their advantage can intimidate some of the teams with weaker offenses, AKA most of the teams in the AAC.
3. PJ struggled from beginning to end.
I know he wants to go by Phillip now, but maybe calling him “PJ” is the motivation he needs. The senior QB threw three costly interceptions for the Black Knights to capitalize on. This doesn’t happen often for the four-year starter, but it could go back to the fact that his best friend and usual RB wasn’t in the game. It’s unknown if Thomas will be back for next week’s game, but it could be exactly what Walker needs to get back on track. One high note of the night is PJ became Temple’s all-time passing leader. Congratulations, champ!
4. The absence of Robby Anderson, Tavon Young, and Tyler Matakevich was felt.
We all knew the time was coming for these three to continue on to the NFL, but I think Temple fans were in denial with how much their presence would be missed. Anderson, now a rookie WR for the Jets, came through to show his team some love. We needed some of his touchdown catches to help Walker out. Young was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2016 Draft. At corner/safety, he used to shut down opposing wide receivers without much effort. That will absolutely be missed. Most of all, Matakevich has turned some heads on defense for the Steelers, but can we just reminisce on how quickly he could take down any quarterback in the Linc? Yup, all three of you will be missed, but keep respresenting in the big leagues!
5. Temple can easily win eight games this season.
Eight? Yes and here’s why. Their schedule is relatively easy. The remaining games are as follows:
Stony Brook- W.
Penn State- MUST WIN.
Charlotte- Lol win.
SMU- Y’all got us in basketball, but on the field, nope. W for us.
Memphis- Unpredictable, but I’m saying L.
Cincinnati- Close, but L.
UCONN- Win…I think.
East Carolina- Win.
Last night’s loss hurt, but the Owls will continue to stay up all night to fix their mistakes. Any questions?
I’m Kayla Nyree, and whatever will be, will be!