Athletic Supporters: Temple v. Maryland off the Court and in the Stands

Athletic Supporters: Temple v. Maryland off the Court and in the Stands

For Nick Menta's recap of Temple's 73-60 win over Maryland on Saturday, click here.

Make it a clean sweep for the Temple University Owls over Maryland Terrapins, with decisive victories on both the football field and the basketball court within the last four months.

Maryland, best known recently as Under Armour's attempted equivalent to Nike's Oregon, is now 0-3 against Temple over the last two years, counting their Dec. 2010 basketball loss to the Owls in addition to the two games mentioned above.

And while these two programs are surely differentiable on the scoreboard when pitted head-to-head, they're differentiated in other ways off of it -- and in ways far less flattering for Temple.

For much of the early going on Saturday, it appeared as though Maryland had actually outdrawn Temple in a building approximately two hours from their College Park campus, a building just a brief subway ride from Temple's personal SEPTA stop at Broad and Cecil B Moore.

Finally, at the beginning of the second half, the corners of Temple's section of the Palestra filled in to solidify the sell out. There are myriad of potential reasons for the late-arriving crowd, with Saturday morning's troublesome snow storm at the very top of the list.

Nonetheless, the trademark Maryland "OH!" during the national anthem -- which the anthemist handled flawlessly, by the way -- was a jarring reminder of how far Temple still has to come when it comes to drawing a major -- and not mid-major -- fan base.

Really, there are very few schools in this country who can claim a prouder basketball tradition than Temple (The Owls' boast the sixth most wins Division I Men's Basketball history). Still, the school seems to have issues drawing on its own.

Sure, it makes sense that the Owls' biggest crowds come against their strongest opponents and their local rivals, but the drop off from Temple and Duke to Temple and the average opponent is sharper than it should be.

For reference, Temple basketball finished 90th in the nation in average attendance in 2011, drawing 5,925 per game. That number was good enough fifth in the Atlantic 10 and represents just under 60% of the Liacouras Center's total capacity for basketball.

By comparison, the Maryland Terrapins of the ACC finished 14th in the nation, drawing over 14,000 per game.

I will preface with the following concessions. First, of course Maryland is going to outdraw Temple as a result of the disparities between the ACC and A10 schedules. Second, of the four A10 schools to outdraw Temple in 2011 -- Dayton, Xavier, Charlotte and Richmond -- there is no immediate, or at least only one, other basketball alternative in the market.

But let's be honest, the basketball alternatives in the city of Philadelphia really shouldn't be an obstacle for the Owls. Temple University boasts a full student body of 37,000. The school has an alumni base of more than 250,000, many of whom still reside in the city limits or its immediate suburbs.

Moreover, Temple has consistently ranked within the Top 25 in the nation over the past three seasons, and has made four straight NCAA tournament appearances. They are, at minimum, a Top 30 program. They only happen to draw like a school who just manages to squeak into the NIT each season.

Temple has the student body and alumni base to rival almost any Division I institution, but generally lacks a unifying campus culture. As the school becomes increasingly residential and less commuter-driven in the coming years, perhaps the culture will change -- or, in this case, form. Maybe a greater pride or the university and its athletic programs -- a pride common in so many other major universities, like Maryland -- will spring forth.

But in the meantime, the Temple athletic department will be forced to soldier on with a major college program represented by a mid-major fan base. Temple can continue to beat the best in the nation -- knocking off four AP Top 10 programs in the last four seasons and going 5-1 against the Big East and ACC combined over the last two years -- but it won't be their on-the-floor resume that's bumps them to a bigger, better conference any time soon. On that front, they'll need their student body and alumni to start supporting both the football and basketball programs in greater numbers.

On the court, the Owls have no reason to Fear the Turtle; but off it, they have every reason to envy the supportive culture which surrounds the Maryland Terrapins.

Eagles respond to Josh Norman comments: Sam Bradford is probably ticked off

Eagles respond to Josh Norman comments: Sam Bradford is probably ticked off

New Redskins CB Josh Norman ripped a ton of players from a number of teams in a wild interview earlier in the week. For whatever reason, Eagles QB Sam Bradford took a bunch of that criticism.

"Have you ever once been one of the top 20 quarterbacks in the league? Not that I remember -- and you want more money? I can't wait to play him twice a year,” Norman told ESPN The Magazine.

Sam’s teammates had a chance to come to his defense on Wednesday.

“Everyone knows Sam’s our leader,” Zach Ertz said. “I’m not going to pull a [Terrell Owens] right now and get all upset. At the same time, Sam’s my guy. Everybody loves him. Everybody knows he’s our quarterback right now and I think he’s going to be very successful this season.”

Not everyone on the Eagles had something to say about it.

“I’m not going to get into that. I’m not going to comment on it,” Head Coach Doug Pederson said.

Offensive lineman Lane Johnson points out the obvious, that Norman and the Redskins are going to have to put some action behind their words.

“That’s just what rival teams do. They like to talk their trash. They’re going to have to go out on the field and back it up. There’s going to be a time and place to show what you’re talking about.”

“It’s probably gonna piss [Bradford] off. He takes stuff to heart and he wants to prove everybody wrong,” Johnson said.

And then there was Jason Kelce with perhaps our favorite perspective. 

Temple's defense counting on several to replace production of NFL draft picks

Temple's defense counting on several to replace production of NFL draft picks

With just over a week to go before the season opener vs. Army at Lincoln Financial Field, it’s tough to pin down a way or even a few words to describe the 2016 incarnation of the Temple Owls.

There’s still veteran leadership on the offensive side of the ball with quarterback Phillip Walker and running back Jahad Thomas back for their senior seasons.

But the program has now reached the point where head coach Matt Rhule, entering his fourth year at the helm, and his staff can really start molding the Owls into their vision. Members of highly-rated, athletic recruiting classes of recent years continue to filter their respective ways into important roles.

At this time last year before the season opener against Penn State, the pulse of Temple’s team was clear — experienced, ferocious defense.

But even with star linebacker Tyler Matakevich (Pittsburgh Steelers), defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis (Washington Redskins) and cornerback Tavon Young (Baltimore Ravens) graduating and moving on to the NFL, there’s some very talented and experienced players to fill their roles as the Owls continue to evolve.

So that invites this question: Who’s being counted on to produce and fill the shoes of those who’ve moved on?

Let’s start with the obvious hole in production at linebacker without Matakevich, who finished his Temple career with 493 tackles and punctuated that stellar career with last year’s Bronco Nagurski Award, given to the nation’s best defensive player.

Redshirt senior Stephaun Marshall will slide over to SAM linebacker and take Matakevich’s old WILL linebacker spot. While Matakevich was a generational talent, Rhule is confident Marshall will be able to contribute to the Owls’ defense.

“He’s moved to be a productive guy,” Rhule said Tuesday during Temple’s media day. “I think he’ll play really well.”

Being a productive player is something Marshall, a Montclair, New Jersey native, is used to. In 38 games with the Owls over the past three seasons, Marshall has recorded 113 total tackles, 11 pass deflections, 2½ sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one interception. He’s also used to moving positions — he started his collegiate career as a safety before moving to the SAM spot in 2014.

And Marshall will be set up nicely to increase his production in 2016. In defensive coordinator Phil Snow’s aggressive scheme, the WILL spot is known to be the most productive on the field. Previous guys at that spot under Snow include former NFL players Pat Tillman (241 tackles) and Adam Archuleta (203 tackles) at Arizona State, and, of course, Matakevich at Temple.

Another player to keep an eye on at the WILL linebacker spot is redshirt freshman Chapelle Russell, who’s currently No. 2 on the depth chart behind Marshall. But that doesn’t mean Russell won’t see time as Rhule and his staff have gushed about Russell’s potential for a long time now. At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Russell is an athletic specimen.

“Chapelle Russell has infinite talent,” Rhule said Tuesday. “He’s got tremendous upside. It’s just gonna be whether he does it. He’s a redshirt freshman. Some days he’s out there and makes every tackle. Some days his shoulder bothers him a bit or something like that or it’s Coach Rhule told him he couldn’t wear this pair of socks and he’s not quite at the same level. We’re just trying to get him to be the same guy every day.”

As far as the defensive line is concerned, there’s no true answer yet on the inside to replace Ioannidis. Senior Averee Robinson, redshirt junior and North Carolina transfer Greg Webb, redshirt sophomore Freddie Booth-Lloyd and true freshman Karamo Dioubate are all in the mix to play key roles at defensive tackle.

The Owls are set up nicely at defensive end, though, with Praise Martin-Oguike and Haason Reddick back for their senior seasons.

Martin-Oguike had 30 tackles, four sacks and an interception last season. Reddick, a former walk-on from Camden and Haddon Heights High School in South Jersey, made noise last season with 45 tackles and five sacks, all while paying his own way to school without a scholarship.

“I got here and he wasn’t even on the team,” Rhule said of Reddick on Tuesday. “All he’s done is battle for his spot. He played last year at an all-conference level while not being on scholarship.”

Reddick was put on scholarship after last season. During this preseason camp, he was awarded jersey No. 7, an achievement as the Owls annually award single-digit jersey numbers to those voted toughest by teammates.

Sharif Finch, who had an interception against Penn State last year, is also in the mix on the defensive line.

The cornerback situation is a bit more unsettled at this point in time.

After last season, the Owls seemed set there with star Sean Chandler, who had four picks in 2015 and returned two of them for touchdowns. But the staff decided to move Chandler, a junior, to safety during the offseason to better utilize his athleticism and because they felt it would be the better position for his pro prospects going forward.

What’s left at corner after Chandler’s move is a mish-mash of depth. There’s no shortage of players who have the potential to make an impact, according to Rhule.

Redshirt senior Nate Hairston and redshirt junior Artrel Foster both saw time there last season and played well. Redshirt sophomore Derrick Thomas and redshirt freshman Kareem Ali are also in the mix.

But it sure sounded Tuesday like Rhule is waiting for one or two of them to stand out during the early part of the season.

“Thomas is playing at a high level. Foster was playing at a really high level but he just has some nicks right now, so he’s fighting to get back. Hairston is coming on and Ali is coming on, too,” Rhule said. “I think our corners, we feel like we have a lot of depth.

“The thing about playing corner is you have to get beat. You have to go into a game and really get beat and then respond to it. We have a lot of guys who have the talent to do it, they just haven’t gone into a game and got run by yet. How they respond is a true marker of how they are as a corner.”

The cornerback question may not get an answer for a couple of weeks, at least. Army runs the triple-option offense and rarely throws. On the schedule after Army is Stony Brook, an FCS squad.

That leaves Sept. 17’s game vs. Penn State at Beaver Stadium as the first true test for Temple’s corners. And for the defense as a whole.

Temple basketball names Chris Clark assistant coach

ap-chris-clark.jpg
AP

Temple basketball names Chris Clark assistant coach

Chris Clark is back with the Owls.

The former Temple guard and team video coordinator was named an assistant coach to Fran Dunphy’s staff on Wednesday night.

“We are happy to have Chris Clark rejoin our staff,” Dunphy said in a release by the school. “He knows our system as a player and as a staff member last year. He also has extensive coaching experience, serving as an assistant at three different D-I programs. Chris has been successful at every stop in his career, and we look forward to having him back in the fold.”

Clark, a Philadelphia native, played for the Owls from 2004-08 and was a standout sixth man his senior season, helping lead Temple to a 21-13 record and Atlantic 10 conference championship. During the 2015-16 season, he served the Owls as their video coordinator. He left the program in April to join Drexel’s staff as an assistant.

“I am truly excited to be able to return to Temple as an assistant coach on Fran Dunphy’s staff,” Clark said. “Last season was special working at my alma mater as the video coordinator, but to now serve as an assistant is truly an honor. With that said, I want to thank Drexel head coach Zach Spiker for the opportunity to work on his staff, and his understanding through this process. I enjoyed my short time there and wish the program continued success.”