A Brief Summary of the Flyers' Moves on Day One; Voracek, Jagr, Lilja, Talbot

A Brief Summary of the Flyers' Moves on Day One; Voracek, Jagr, Lilja, Talbot

While many fans are still coming to grips with the fact that Jaromir Jagr will be wearing orange and black this season, it was not the only move that Paul Holmgren made today.

Not even close.

The Flyers began their busy day with an extension for the recently acquired Jakub Voracek, who came over in the Jeff Carter exchange. Then they signed free agent defenseman Andreas Lilja to replace the departing Sean O'Donnell, as well as luring center Max Talbot away from the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

Lilja spent last season with Anaheim after spending the previous five in Detroit, where he was part of their run for the Stanley Cup in 07-08. The former second round pick of the LA Kings in 2000 turns 36 in less than two weeks, and he missed most of the 09-10 campaign with a concussion. He appeared in 52 games for the Ducks last season though, and as long as he stays healthy, the addition should solidify the back end of the Flyers defensive rotation. He's signed for three years at $1.7 million per.

Just as it seemed like things couldn't get any crazier, the Flyers announced the signing of Talbot to a five-year, $9 million contract. Talbot played his entire six-year NHL career for Pittsburgh, and like Lilja, was a member of a Stanley Cup winner in 08-09, in fact scoring the series' decisive goal for the Pens. The 27 year old isn't a huge factor on the score sheet—generally registering slightly more than 20 points per season—but he figures to fill Philly's need for a solid third-line center and penalty killer.

Earlier, the club came to terms with Voracek on a one-year offer worth $2.25 million. He who was a restricted free agent when the Flyers acquired the right winger from Columbus. No word on whether the two sides discussed anything long term, but Voracek certainly has the chance to create a bigger role for himself in the season ahead. The seventh overall pick in 2007 averaged 48 points across the last two seasons for the unheralded Blue Jackets.

And then of course, there is Jagr. Matt covered the Jagr signing in detail, so we won't get too much into that, but at one year it seems like your prototypical low risk/high reward move. Along with Lilja and Talbot, it also appears one of the Flyers' goals with this round of signings was to surround their young team with players who have experience hoisting the Cup. Jagr may not be an instant fan favorite, but he fits the bill of a player who has had post-season success in the NHL.

Of course, this round of moves leads many to believe Ville Leino won't return. We've noticed the silky smooth Leino has become something of a fan favorite, and get the feeling he will be missed. There's no arguing his solid numbers (53 points in 10-11), but it seems the team and the winger disagreed on his value, so the franchise moved quickly to fill out the rest of their roster.

None of these moves should blow anybody away, and won't, but the Flyers apparently had a goal in mind. They added a group of cost-effective veterans who have gone the distance, and fill specific holes in the lineup. Time will tell whether this drastic shakeup achieves the desired result, but nobody can accuse the Flyers front office of sitting on their hands this off-season.

UPDATE: More moves, right this way. Kris Versteeg has been traded, and Ville Leino and Brian Boucher have signed with the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively.

Gunn's bullet points: Logan's injury, battle in the trenches and more

Gunn's bullet points: Logan's injury, battle in the trenches and more

Derrick Gunn give his take on a few keys to the Eagles-Vikings game on Sunday.

• Losing Bennie Logan (groin injury) for this game is huge. He doesn't get a lot of notoriety for the dirty work he does in the trenches, but he helps Fletcher Cox get that push up the middle.

• Keep a close eye on the matchup between Jason Kelce and Vikings DT Linval Joseph. Kelce has been overmatched by bigger, athletic guys and Joseph at 6-4, 330 pounds is one of the best in the business.

• In his first three years as an Eagle, DE Connor Barwin had 26½ sacks as an OLB, including a career-best 14½ in 2014. Through five games this season, Barwin has just one. Fatigue might be a factor. He has played more snaps than any other Eagles defensive lineman (79 percent). Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz says reducing Barwin's playing time might keep him fresher and stronger in fourth quarters.

• WR Dorial Green-Beckham was on the field for 81 percent of the Eagles' plays vs. Washington last week. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich feels DGB is ready for an expanded role.

• Darren Sproles usually wins matchups against LBs, but that might not be the case against the Vikings. Mychal Kendricks' younger brother, Eric, has been a solid playmaking LB for Minnesota and he has the speed to keep up with Sproles.

• I've said it once and I'll say it again: get Kenjon Barner more touches in the run game. Barner has the least amount of carries among the Eagles' four running backs but the best yards-per-carry average at 5.8.

Temple vs. South Florida: Trip to conference championship at stake?


Temple vs. South Florida: Trip to conference championship at stake?

There’s no time to exhale for the Owls.

After pulling off a near-impossible comeback against UCF last week, Temple will play its toughest conference opponent yet when it faces USF at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday night.

Heading into the game at 4-3 overall and 2-1 in the AAC, this game already has conference championship and bowl game implications for Temple.

The Bulls' offense ran all over the Owls during USF’s 44-23 victory when the teams met in Tampa last season. USF currently sits one game ahead of Temple at 3-0 in the AAC.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

Scouting Temple
The Owls’ offense has struggled to find consistency this season. Temple ranks 91st in the FBS in total offense, averaging 378 yards per game.

Coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas will likely try to find ways to get the ball in senior running back Jahad Thomas’ hands on Friday. Since returning from injury against Penn State on Sept. 17, Thomas has scored two total touchdowns in every game. He has 357 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns in addition to 251 yards receiving and three touchdown catches. Sophomore running back Ryquell Armstead has complemented Thomas nicely with 403 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Giving up big plays has been the Achilles’ heel of Temple’s defense in 2016. The Owls have given up six touchdowns of 50 or more yards from scrimmage and a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown. UCF had two touchdowns of 50-plus yards last week.

Other than the long scores, Temple’s defense has been solid, holding opponents to 316.6 yards per game, which ranks 17th in the FBS. Redshirt senior defensive end Haason Reddick has been the Owls’ defensive star. He leads the team with 35 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 6½ sacks.

Scouting USF
It doesn’t get much better than USF’s backfield combo of junior quarterback Quinton Flowers andt junior running back Marlon Mack.

Flowers and Mack lead a Bulls’ offense that ranks eighth in both scoring offense and rushing offense. The two combined for 550 total yards and five touchdowns in last year’s victory over the Owls. Last week, Flowers threw for 213 yards, ran for 153 yards and totaled five touchdowns in a 42-27 win over UConn. Rodney Adams has been Flowers’ favorite target through the air this season. Adams has 32 catches for 459 yards and four touchdowns.

USF’s defense is giving up almost 26 points per game. The Bulls have held opponents to fewer than 20 points just once this season. At the same time, they’ve only given up more than 27 points once this season, and that was when No. 13 Florida State lit USF up for 55 points. Junior linebacker Auggie Sanchez has 65 tackles, eight tackles for loss and six sacks. Senior linebacker Nigel Harris leads the team with two interceptions.

Storyline to watch: Can Temple’s defense contain a running quarterback?
UCF freshman McKenzie Milton broke off a 63-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper last week. Quarterbacks like Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, SMU’s Matt Davis and Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. gave the Owls problems by running the ball last season. Flowers is a special player who will once again challenge Temple with his arm and his legs. He threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 90 more yards and another score against Temple last season. If the Owls can find a way to shut down Flowers, they’ll give themselves a good shot to win the game.

What’s at stake: A trip to the conference championship?
After only three conference games, that might seem a little far-fetched. However, after last week’s win over UCF and a win on Friday, Temple would have tiebreakers over the only teams with fewer than two losses in the AAC East Division. A loss to the Bulls would give Temple two conference losses, meaning USF would likely have to lose three times for Temple to win the East, even if the Owls won all their remaining games.

South Florida’s offense looks poised to give Temple trouble once again, but the Owls have kept it close in every game this season. Flowers and Mack are too much for another Temple comeback. USF 31, Temple 20.