Penn State Opens Season Against Temple in Philly
Ahhhhhhhh, it’s that time of year, FOOTBALL SEASON!! The Nittany Lions’ initial opponent of the 2015 season is the Temple Owls playing on their home turf, albeit with a Penn State majority in da house. Hell, not only is the game close to home for Penn Staters, but also they’ll have a former Nittany Lion to root for as opposing head coach.
Whooooooo are the Owls?
You know the opponent quite well, the Temple Owls, whose motto is “We the T”. (It is considered proper English grammar in some neighborhoods of Philadelphia to omit the “are” in that phrase; however, “We Be the T” would also be considered proper, as would “You Is the T” or “You da T”. But I digress.)
Temple finished the regular season in 2014 with a 6-6 record, which is identical to the Penn State 2014 regular season record. Temple is moving their program forward, and we hope Penn State is too. PSU leads the all-time series 39-3-1, and the Nittany Lions have won 31 straight in the series. Don’t expect that streak to end this year.
The T Who We Be have commissioned Under Armour to pimp out the Owls in a brand-new uniform this year. That’s probably all that will be worth watching on Temple’s half of the field in this game.
Chief Owl in the Parliament, Matt Rhule, played linebacker for PSU back in the Linebacker U. glory days of the 1990s. He also coached in the NFL, as offensive line coach with the New Jersey Giants. This will be his third season as Chief Owl, hoping to greatly improve upon a combined record of 8-16 for his first two.
Both these teams finished 6-6 last year, and both have aspirations of building on that meager, minimally bowl eligible type of season. Both teams had excellent defenses last year and both had issues with their offenses. With lots of returning starters and some interesting new talent, both teams have a chance to make good on their pre-season aspirations.
On offense, P.J. Walker returns at quarterback. Although he is a talented dual-threat quarterback, one of his threat categories suuuuuuuuucked last year due to a less-than-talented receiving corps, while the other threat category was dulled by an ankle injury. Still, he led the team in rushing, which tells you something about the Temple rushing attack. Unlike Penn State, the offensive line was pretty solid and they’re returning a couple of steady starters. They just didn’t have a decent runner.
Given the absence of a running game and not much of a passing game, we’ll have to give the Temple offense one of the Nittany Turkey’s famous IS ratings, which means “It Sucks.”
The defense was pretty well-regarded in 2014. Deep and experienced at most positions, they’re returning many of last year’s starters. Temple ranked 24th in total defense last year; in red zone defense they were 8th in the land. Should I go on? Pass yards allowed, 13th, Pass efficiency defense, 20th. They were pretty good. Of course, they play in the AAC, so take this whichever way you want to take it. The weakness might be at linebacker, where the star is senior Tyler Matakevich, but Temple’s thinness there dictates that they play some freshmen.
Temple’s special teams are pretty good, too, although their kicking itself has been somewhat inconsistent. Coverage units are solid. Coach Rhule says we shouldn’t worry too much about punting average, so I won’t. Thing is, though, I believe Temple gonna be punting a lot.
We Be Da S
On the Penn State side, we have our undaunted, unbridled optimism to buoy our spirits; at this time of the year, we’re all Sanguinarians. Even this sourpuss, foul old fowl has some pretty lofty hopes for the team, in spite of my restrained season prediction. (I can’t help myself.) Our task will be to see if Christian Hackenberg and his Tragicomic Trafficonic Henchmen can work the ball against the vaunted Temple defense, such as it is. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lion defense could well limit the Owls to single-digit points.
All of us Nittany Lions fans know exactly what we want to see on that field on Saturday: an effective Hack behind an effective offensive line. We’ll take a sphincter-sparing break when PSU goes on defense as we watch in awe of the even better than before secondary and the highly competent defensive line, along with Shoop’s sneakily stifling blitz packages. We’ll observe the linebackers to see if moving Nyeem Wartman-White to MLB (that’s the Moishe LB) from his former Shmuel LB position offsets the loss of Mike Hull. May the Schwartz be with him.
The first strange happenstance to report is that Adam Breneman is not going to play, something we were all looking forward to watching after his injury. Lots of unfounded speculation has been floating around on the Internet, but I won’t participate in it. Penn State head football coach James Franklin would only say that it wasn’t performance or academic issues that caused Breneman’s benching. Breneman was originally listed on the depth chart as second string to Kyle Carter at TE; however, for this game the depth chart shows Mike Gesicki, Brent Wilkerson, and Kyle Carter in that order.
As for the aforementioned Tragicomic Trafficonic Henchmen, Franklin said that the unit is “building on the foundation of the bowl game”, whatever that means. He also said that new Juco Goliath Paris Palmer was getting plenty of help from the veteran Cones, and had bulked up from 276 to 300 in preparation for the season. We’ll see whether we’re dealing with a statue or not in Paris Palmer, but at 6-7 he’s still a lightweight compared to the LTs at some of the other elite Big Ten schools. (OSU: 6-8, 315; Wisconsin: 6-5, 325; and Moo U.: 6-6, 325). Colossus of Rhodes or Anthony Muñoz clone? Time will tell, but probably closer to CoR than AM. Remember, Paris, you’re a Traffic Cone now. So, this fabled starting unit will consist of (from left to right): Palmer, Brendan Mahon, Angelo Mangiro, Brian Gaia, and Andrew Nelson.
Watching the Nittany Lion defense should be fun for us here in The Cave this year, even funner than last year, when PSU finished in the top five in many defensive categories. Unfortunately, red zone defense was not one of them (tied for 53rd), so we need to see an improvement there this year. Same goes for the offense in the red zone. Penn State couldn’t make it happen last year, winding up the season ranked 68th. So, PSU better do better on both sides of that red zone situation! It’s about time that they fixed that. They better… or else!
The Penn State special teams need to show us something — anything! We’re not sure who will be punting and kicking, but the depth chart lists Dan Pasquariello and Joey Julius as the first stringers in those positions, respectively. Oy vey! Julius’ unorthodox style, coupled with Pasquariello’s crappy punting last year gives me cause for concern. But freshman punt returner DeAndre Thompkins and sophomore kick returner Grant Haley might be capable of producing some fireworks if the coverage teams do their job.
Julius and Thompkins, by the way, are the only freshman first-stringers on a Penn State depth chart that lists 13 freshmen.
How, then, is the weather?
It looks to be pretty nice, albeit in a late summer heated kind of way. Game time temps should be 85ºF and sunny. Advantage: fans!
Distinguished Alumnus — The Coz
Who else could it be? What a year Bill Cosby has had! This, my friends, was a no-brainer. Temple has always been very proud of Dr. Huxtable, who matriculated there in 1961, but now he’s been reduced to nothing more than a privileged, sleazy, slimeball, perv rapist. Quaaludes, my ass! With all his fame and money, he couldn’t score with women the old-fashioned way?
The Coz attended Temple on a track and field scholarship after having served four years in the Navy as a corpsman. He had dropped out of high school to join the Navy, but later got an equivalency diploma to make him eligible to go to college. He also played fullback for the Owls during his time at We B Da T, from which he dropped out to start a career in bartending, in connection with which his comedic talent was eventually discovered; perhaps he also developed a talent for drugging women’s drinks there. The rest, as they say, is history.
Cosby is now 77. Sexual incidents with women who claimed they were assaulted by Cosby date back to 1965. (Hell, your senior turkey writing this drivel was still an undergraduate at Penn State back then!) There was another incident in 1967. Then, referring to incidents in 1969, two different women recently accused him of drugging and assaulting them. WTF, Coz? You were young and handsome back then. Why did you think you needed drugs and subterfuge?
For alleged assaults through the end of the 1970s, there have been 19 women complainants stepping forward in all, and for those occurring in the 1980s and 1990s, another 20. Coz added another three as he entered senior citizenhood in the new millennium.
Which goes to show you, Hux, we hardly knew ye.
And now… The Official Turkey Poop Prediction: Penn State vs. Temple
Oh, my. Here we are. The very first Official Turkey Poop Prediction of the year, which is all the more relevant because my doc has requested a stool sample. But I won’t digress — I’ll get right to it. Last year, the Nittany Lions hosted the Owls late in the season and whupped they asses 31-13. However, one big play mysteriously surrendered by an otherwise staunch Bob Shoop defense distorted the reality of that game, in which Temple converted only three of sixteen third downs. I look for Shoop to fix whatever was screwed up sufficiently to have allowed that 75 yard touchdown pass last year, and I look for Temple’s offense to suck yet again. The bbbbbbbbbbbbbbiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggg question mark is Penn State’s offense. What will it be, now? I’m saying Hack and his Tragicomic Trafficonic are dying to make a statement here, for if they don’t, the whole season is imperiled. And, thus, my first prediction of the year is going Penn State’s way. Fickle Las Vegas favors Penn State by a touchdown and establishes the over/under at 44. That suggests something like 26-19. Vegas is wrong, wrong, wrong! Easy overlay bet, IMNSHO. Reflecting an Turkily uncharacteristic declaration that Penn State easily covers the spread, I direct you to take the Nittany Lions and give the points. I’m looking for a final score of 37-9, and you can go ahead and take the over to boot.
I’ll be back after the game with my sparkling insights into what happened or to gloat about being correct.