Foul Trouble, Lack of Depth, Officiating All Cost Temple in Loss to Purdue

Foul Trouble, Lack of Depth, Officiating All Cost Temple in Loss to Purdue

The Temple Owls are a team who miss the leadership, offense, defense and physical contributions of Scootie Randall. Watching their 85-77 loss to the Purdue Boilermakers Friday afternoon made that fact painfully clear.

While the Owls fought valiantly on the strength of a game-high 27 points from senior guard Ramone Moore, Moore found himself attempting to spearhead a comeback without fellow guard Juan Fernandez or starting center Michael Eric. Both were dismissed with more four minutes left in the ballgame, leaving Moore and Khalif Wyatt—who finished with four fouls himself—to lead the team.

Fernandez made his exit in style with 5:40 remaining in the second half, following an after-the-whistle confrontation in which both he and Purdue's Kelsey Barlow were both whistled for technical fouls. Foul trouble has been an issue for Fernandez throughout his career at Temple, an issue he has said he needs to work harder to correct. Today, his five fouls, along with those of Michael Eric, put Temple in a late hole from which it was unable to recover.

As for the opposition, Boilermaker Robbie Hummel is no doubt the face of the Purdue program and started off hot—scoring 8 of his team's first 9—but it was 5-9 guard Lewis Jackson who played the biggest role against the Owls. Once again, Temple evidenced an inability to defend a small, quick guard. Jackson, who more or less had his way on offense and who was not appropriately taken advantage of by Temple on it's own possessions, finished with a team-high 26.

The performance was all to reminiscent of watching the Temple's loss in the A10 semifinals  last year to Richmond and the similarly talented Kevin Anderson. An undermanned Temple  was spread out on defense by a team who shoots well from the perimeter. Spreading the defense allowed Jackson to drive, dish and shoot all at will, while big man Michael Eric was left in the difficult position of having to play tough, yet responsible team defense. To his credit, his final foul was a disgrace of a call on a routine box out, but the 6-10 center still has much to learn about walking the fine line between being aggressive and staying on the floor.

On the subject of fouls, the Owls have attempted to get by with just a seven-man rotation in their first three games, as they await Randall's return from injury. While it's an understandable strategy given their current personnel, a seven-man rotation is put in a troublesome bind when too many of its members are in foul trouble, especially early. Michael Eric had to be removed from the ball game for an extended period in the first half in an effort to preserve him for the second; and though Fernandez's first foul wasn't picked up until the second half—a wholly welcome change from his usual quick two in the opening ten—the personals quickly racked up as the referees tried to put their mark on the game.

In this regard, the officiating legitimately harmed the contest. Purdue and Temple are two highly physical teams, so it isn't surprising that there would be an abnormal amount of contact when the two square off. There is nothing wrong with trying to establish certain guidelines in terms of what is and is not permissible on the floor, but the referees damaged a hard fought game due to an apparent discomfort with its character. At a time when Temple cannot afford consistent and widespread foul trouble, it was disappointing to see the officials take the game out of the player's hands, and into their own.

Other key notes from the Temple loss include comparative 3-point shooting and the Owls' struggles in help defense. Though Temple would wind up out-shooting the Boilermakers from the floor (52%-47%), they would finish just a miserable 3-12 from 3. And while Purdue wasn't exactly stellar from behind the line—shooting just 37.5% on 6 of 16 attempts—those extra nine points played a key factor in the outcome. As for issues in the help D, Purdue found itself many a clean look on a series of well-executed down screens. Hummel was particularly effective in the early going running curls toward the top of the key and outside of the arc, moving from behind timely, physical picks. As the game would progress and Temple would find its players struggling to stay on the floor with three and four fouls, the switches broke down and the help was slow and tentative in its arrival.

Thus, the Owls have suffered their first loss and will move 2-1 on the season.

The team will no doubt enjoy its rest on Saturday during its one-day break in San Juan. On Sunday, they'll look to take two of three from the Five-Hour Energy Puerto Rico Tip-Off when they face the loser of this evening's Alabama-Wichita State match up.

Of course Doug Pederson has actually run up the Rocky steps

Of course Doug Pederson has actually run up the Rocky steps

Doug Pederson sat down with Matt Mosley and Ed Werder on their Doomsday podcast recently to talk some NFC East football.

They caught Doug during his son's little league baseball game and chatted about topics ranging from Carson Wentz's rookie year, the Dallas Cowboys, Sidney Jones, and the addition of a plethora of weapons on offense.

Doug sees a Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz-dominated NFC East for years to come. Coach Pederson was impressed by the way Prescott carried himself on and off the field. Doug pointed out that Dak didn't have to do anything remarkable for the Cowboys to win games which allowed him to simply be himself.

Perhaps that's something Wentz will benefit from in year two with so many more weapons around him.

Things got a little fluffy as the interview went on and they asked Doug if he's actually run up the Rocky steps before.

The "Rocky steps" of course being the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And of course he has.

"I have. I actually have," Doug said. "In fact, several years ago when I was an assistant coach, family and friends would come visit for home games so I had to be the tour guide. I would escort them down to the steps and we would make that ascent to the top of the steps. I've done it a few times now.

"When you get to the top of the steps and you turn around and you're looking right down the Parkway, right into Center City, with the cityscape of Philadelphia, you can't help but raise your arms."

Doug adds that he's a provolone with onions on his cheesesteak and that he still refers to the Eagles' owner as Mr. Lurie.

"I'm going to keep calling him Mr. Lurie until hopefully one day I can stand on that podium and hoist the Lombardi trophy. I'll probably use his first name at that point."

You can listen to the full conversation with Doug right here.

 

Eagles OTA storylines: Jeffery in uniform, rotations, awkwardness

Eagles OTA storylines: Jeffery in uniform, rotations, awkwardness

The Eagles will finally be playing football this week. Sort of. 

Tuesday morning marks the beginning of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), the first time most of the 2017 Eagles will be on the field together. 

While OTAs are technically voluntary, the Eagles — and every other team — will have near-perfect attendance. For the Birds, that will include Brandon Graham, who was reportedly set to holdout, but rejoined the team just a few days after leaving (see story)

The Eagles will have a few rounds of OTAs (May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 5-6, 8-9) leading up to the mandatory minicamp in mid-June. The mandatory minicamp runs from June 12-15. After that, the team is off until training camp. 

Thanks to the CBA, there are strict rules for what teams are allowed to do during OTAs. Players wear helmets but aren't allowed to wear pads, which means no contact. Also no 1-on-1 drills, but 11 on 11s are allowed. So there's at least some competition. 

Annual yearly warning: Be wary the stories of greatness from players in shorts in May. 

Last year, there were a ton of juicy storylines with a new coaching staff, a No. 2 pick quarterback and the Sam Bradford drama. By comparison, this year is boring, but the Eagles never lack drama. 

Here's what to watch this year: 

A new No. 17 
The Eagles' biggest free agent acquisition will be on the team for his first full-team practice. Alshon Jeffery is the type of receiver the Eagles desperately needed. He'll immediately become Carson Wentz's No. 1 weapon this season. 

So Tuesday will offer a first look at Jeffery and the other new pickups, including Torrey Smith, Timmy Jernigan and LeGarrette Blount. 

During rookie minicamp a couple weeks ago, third-rounder Rasul Douglas said he was looking forward to lining up across from Jeffery this week. He'll finally get his chance. 

Carson in Year 2
This time last year, Wentz was the Eagles' third-string quarterback, preparing for a redshirt rookie season. 

Now, he's the not just the starter but the young leader of the team and the face of the franchise. While he was already seemingly in command of the huddle as a rookie, expect him to continue to grow into his leadership role. Sometimes these things just take time. But he is already one of the unquestioned leaders of the team. 

Also, we'll see if there's any notable difference in his mechanics after working out with QB guru Adam Dedeaux this offseason. The main thing they worked on was footwork. We'll see if it helps limit the amount of throws Wentz sails — perhaps his biggest issue as a rookie. 

The rotations
We won't be able to learn a heckuva a lot from watching practices because football isn't meant to be played in shirts and no pads, but we will at least get to see who lines up with who. 

Because 11 on 11s are allowed, we'll get a glimpse of what the first, second and third teams look like. Will Allen Barbre start off as the first-team left guard? Who is the starting defensive end opposite Brandon Graham and on which side? Is LeGarrette Blount ready to run with the ones? 

Kelce and Kendricks
Jason Kelce and Mychal Kendricks are still on the roster after plenty of speculation this offseason that they'll be gone. And there's still a chance one or both could be traded. 

To their credit, both have been very professional throughout this process and both have been at the facility this spring. It's a part of the business, but it has to be a little weird to show up to work every day knowing you might be dealt. 

Hopefully, they'll make themselves available to answer a few questions. 

MIA
While Sidney Jones is still recovering from his Achilles tear, even if he wasn't, he wouldn't be allowed at the facility this week. Jones and his college teammate Elijah Qualls went to the University of Washington, which operates on a quarters system. 

It's a stupid rule, but the NFL doesn't allow players who went to schools on quarters systems to be in voluntary camps until they graduate. That might not seem like a huge deal, but for a guy like Qualls, who has a chance to fight for a roster spot, the time missed could be devastating. 

Last offseason, two undrafted tackles had a chance to make the team — Destiny Vaeao and Aziz Shittu — but only one did. During this time last year, Vaeao was on the field showing his potential, while Shittu was back in Stanford. Vaeao made the team and was a contributor, while Shittu was stuck on the practice squad.