Part Two of Our Two-Part Temple-Penn State Primer: On Temple

Part Two of Our Two-Part Temple-Penn State Primer: On Temple

In advance of this weekend's
showdown in Happy Valley between Temple and Penn State (3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN 2), Nick Menta and
our friend and guest-spotter from Examiner.com Kevin McGuire have gotten
together for a two-part preview of this weekend's
matchup.

In Part 1, Nick picked Kevin's brain about the current state
of the Nittany Lions. They'll reverse roles in Part 2 below. And for yet more,
check out Nick's
full game preview here
.

Onto Part 2...

------------------

Kevin McGuire: I suppose I can ask you a similar question to your Navy inquiry.
Temple handled Villanova the way they should have (I would think), but
then threw an egg against Maryland. I tend to give the Owls some credit
for fighting back against the Terps to make
things interesting, but which Temple should we be expecting to see
Saturday, and do they show up for a full game or just a half?

Nick Menta: I'm also going to wimp out and call it somewhere in the middle. They're
obviously not as dominant as they were against FCS Villanova, but
nowhere near as inept as they appeared in the first half against
Maryland, when they gained just 34 yards and turned the
ball over twice.

Temple's second half against the Terps does, as you mentioned, give rise
to some optimism, but playing at home, down 26-3 at the half with
little pressure is different than going into Beaver Stadium. As Addazio
keeps reminding anyone who will listen, his team
is young, and many of them have never played in that kind of
environment.

As for how long they'll last, in 2010 they went about three quarters in a 22-13 loss
(Temple was up 13-9 at the break before losing Bernard Pierce), and did the same last year, losing 14-10
after, again, leading at the half. I'm not
optimistic about the running attack's hopes versus the Penn State front
seven, so Temple may just go as far as its defense will carry it. If
they can stymie McGloin and the revamped passing attack, we could be in
for a long, ugly affair similar to 2011.

Temple's defense has played very well against Penn State in more
recent years, helping to close the gap between the two programs on the
field. With Penn State's new-style offense, who on Temple's defense
steps up to keep that trend continuing?

That defense lost six defensive starters this offseason, and like the
team as a whole, has gotten younger and more inexperienced.

Redshirt freshman middle linebacker Nate D. Smith, the younger brother
of one L.J. Smith, has stepped into the spot vacated by Stephen Johnson,
who led the Owls in tackles with
123 last year. Smith leads the 2012 defense
with 18 total tackles (17 unassisted) and has forced a fumble in each
of his first two games.

More specific to stopping McGloin and the passing attack, senior
defensive end John Yabouty remains one of Temple's best playmakers and
will do his best to create pressure. Over the top, senior safeties
Justin Gildea (pictured above) and Vaughn Carraway will have to provide
support to corners Zamel Johnson and Anthony Robey as they contend with
wide receiver Allen Robinson and his counterparts. It was a secondary that, across the board, did not play well against Maryland.

We know that Bernard Pierce was a key player in the revitalization of
the program, but Matt Brown had a very significant role as well. How
has he now taken over the role as the go-to guy out of the backfield and
how has Montel Harris been fitting in with
his injury issues?

Well he was kind of stunning against Villanova (270 total yards), but
put the ball on the carpet vs. Maryland and continued to struggle before
spraining his ankle. With two weeks of rest, he should be fine.

How's Montel fitting in? ... So far he hasn't. He strained his hamstring late in the
preseason, and had just six touches in the first half versus Villanova,
before taking to the sidelines in sweatpants in the second half of that
game. He did not play at all versus Maryland,
though was warming up on the sidelines when Brown first went down.
Addazio indicated after the game that Harris could have played,
but that the he didn't think it would have been "right."

Two weeks later, but hamstrings are naggy. We'll see.

While Penn State has been struggling on special teams, Temple has
not. North Penn's Brandon McManus has proven to be a pretty solid
special teams player by handling place kicking and punting duties for
the Owls. Too many times we overlook special teams (until
it costs a team a game), but how important is McManus and special teams
in a game like this weekend at Penn State?

Considering the low-scoring nature of the games over the last two years, special teams will be crucial.

Flashback to before Sam Ficken, and Anthony Fera, who left Penn State
this summer for Texas, went 0 for 2 on field goal attempts versus Temple
last year. Then they called on Ficken, and he missed one himself.
They went 0 for 3 as a team. Of course, as
we discussed in Part 1, Penn State's four down territory has evidently
expanded under O'Brien.

Back to the original intent of your question, McManus is invaluable.
He's one of just eight kids in the country who handles all kicking
duties for his team. He has the leg to make the NFL as a kickoff
specialist, if not more.

Again, if this is a long, ugly, struggling game like it has been in the past, then
field position and converted field goals, and therefore McManus, will
be of the utmost importance.

I don't think it is too argumentative that the Penn State game is one
that Temple looks forward to every year, and that beating Penn State
would be a tremendous feat for the program as they continue to improve.
What will it take for this year to finally
be "the year" Temple knocks off their in-state rivals?

Just for reference, the last time Temple beat Penn State was roughly seven weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. So, yeah.

Anyway, we discussed above how Temple keeps getting closer to jumping the hurdle without actually clearing it. Steve Addazio always lists a four-point plan to success for his Owls.

1. Run the football
2. Play great defense
3. Play great special teams
4. Don't turn over the ball

Well, if they run the ball with success, they control clock and shorten
the game. If they play great defense and special teams, those benefits
are obvious. As is the importance of holding onto the football.

Still, there's one component that's missing from the plan, and that's the passing game.

As I mentioned earlier this week
, Temple ran for
just 74 yards last year against Penn State during a season in which they
averaged 265.5 per game (seventh-best in the nation). The Penn State front seven
(and its safety help) that prides itself on stopping
the run.

Temple has to be able to do something to keep the Lions from loading the
box and cheating on the run. Whether its the spread-option, some unorthodoxy,
or some good old-fashioned passing plays, the Owls can't pound their
heads against the Penn State defensive wall
if the run just isn't available.

It's not a certainty, but chances are Temple will have to branch out
just a tad, even if it isn't their strong suit and even if it does open
the door for more mistakes. Conservative play calling didn't work last
year.

We'll see how Addazio and the crew have game-planned for 2012 on Saturday.

Keep up with Kevin and Nick's weekend reports from State
College on
Twitter @KevinOnCFB
and @cnmenta.

*

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Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

The treasure trove that is Joel Embiid's social media presence unearthed another jewel on Saturday evening.

The Sixers' big man took to Instagram to post a picture of himself chatting with local folk legend Sam Hinkie. As if that wasn't enough, check out the captions he wrote at the bottom.

THE GOAT #HeDiedForOurSins #TrustTheProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Let us break this down.

"THE GOAT" - As in Greatest Of All Time, not an actual goat you would find at your local petting zoo.

"#HeDiedForOurSins" - St. Sam, patron saint of analytical basketball martyrdom.

"#TrustTheProcess" - The rallying cry of the masses.

Sure, they may have taken away Sam, but they'll never take away JoJo's social media platforms. Never!

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

ap-cj-sapong-union.jpg
Associated Press

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

MONTREAL  -- Didier Drogba broke out with a hat trick to lead the Montreal Impact to a 5-1 victory over the Union on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old Ivorian striker hadn't scored since May 28. He returned last week after missing three games with a thigh injury.

Ignacio Piatti returned after sitting out a one-game suspension to score a goal and add two assists. Recent signing Matteo Mancuso, who went in for Drogba in the 79th minute, got his first MLS goal in added time.

Montreal improved to 7-5-8.

Chris Pontius scored for Philadelphia (8-7-6).

Odubel Herrera's bat returns, but so do Aaron Nola's struggles in loss to Pirates

Odubel Herrera's bat returns, but so do Aaron Nola's struggles in loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The good news for the Phillies on Saturday was that it finally seems All-Star Odubel Herrera's bat is returning to its typical, productive form.

The centerfielder had his second straight three-hit game Saturday as he continued to pull out of his slump, though it wasn’t enough to keep the Phillies from losing 7-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle game of a three-game series at PNC Park (see Instant Replay).

Yet Herrera’s suddenly hot bat gave the Phillies some reason to feel good on a day when another player who the organization believes can be a foundation player backslid. Right-hander Aaron Nola (5-9) took the loss as he allowed six runs and six hits in four-plus innings.

The bad Nola returned after pitching six scoreless innings in his previous outing Monday against the Miami Marlins. Prior to shutting down the Marlins, Nola allowed a combined 30 runs in five starts while failing to get past the fourth inning four times.

“When he’s at his best, he has control of all his pitches,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s lost his control and he needs to a find a way to get it back.”

However, Herrera improved to 6 for 9 in the series by going 3 for 4 with a triple, two runs scored and two stolen bases. He had been 4 for 41 in his previous 11 games before coming to Pittsburgh, a skid that dropped his batting average to .281 from .300.

“It was getting pretty ugly for about a week there, so it feels good to get some hits,” Herrera said. “That’s my job, to get hits, be successful and help the team win. I really don’t go into too many slumps, so it’s hard to try to fight your way through it and stay positive. When I get a hit, I am happy.”

Herrera is now hitting .290 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 98 games.

There had been a school of thought that making his first All-Star Game appearance July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego might have had an effect on the 24-year-old. The schedule for the players during the festivities is basically non-stop for two days and then Herrera had to fly across the country to rejoin the Phillies in Philadelphia for the second half of the season.

“I was concerned it might have an effect on him,” Mackanin said. “It was the first time he had participated in an even of that magnitude and it can be hard to refocus after that.”

Herrera, though, said he is not sure how much being an All-Star played into his cold spell.

“Maybe it did,” Herrera said. “It was a busy couple of days there. I don’t know what to compare it to because I hadn’t been before. Obviously, I didn’t have the same chance to rest as a lot of other players, so it could have had an effect. However, playing in the All-Star Game was a great experience and I am glad I had a chance to be there.”

If Herrera plays like he has the last two games, Herrera figures to appear in more Midsummer Classics before his career is through.

“He has the ability to win a batting title,” Mackanin said. “He’s that good of a hitter. He’s a smart hitter. When pitchers start adjusting to him, he adjusts back. I only see him getting better.

“Then you throw in that he played a heckuva center field and it’s just an impressive total package."