Temple in Akron to Take on the Zips

Temple in Akron to Take on the Zips

The Temple Owls are on the road and set to take on the Akron Zips at InfoCision Stadium — Summa Field (6 p.m. / ESPN 3). If the stadium's name seems like a mouthful, bear in mind that their old home field was named the "Rubber Bowl;" so, they sort of went the other way on that one.

Anyway, on paper, this should prove the Owls' easiest game of 2011. The Zips went just 1-11 in 2010 and opened up their season last week with a 42-0 loss to The Ohio State University. While getting waxed by OSU isn't necessarily the end of the world for a MAC program, consider that Toledo just gave those same Buckeyes one hell of a game from inside the Horseshoe earlier today. It should also be noted that Akron amassed just 90 total yards in the loss.

As for the series history between the Owls and Zips, Temple leads the all-time head-to-head at 13-7; they hold a 6-3 advantage over the Zips in games played at Akron. Last year, in a mid-season match up at Lincoln Financial Field, Temple hammered the Zips by a final score of 30-0. Up just by just six at the half, Temple ripped off 24-straight in the second half to cover the 28-point spread by just 2. They'll be giving 16 today.
With all that in mind, the Owls should nonetheless be wary of a potential letdown. Underestimating the Zips and looking one week ahead toward Penn State seems like the perfect recipe for disaster. Thankfully, coach Steve Addazio's insistence on "taking things one week at a time" should keep Temple directed.

Quarterback Chester Stewart and defensive back Kee-ayre Griffin are set to make their returns for the Owls after serving one-week suspensions and missing the Mayor's Cup. While Griffin will more than likely get his reps, it remains unclear as to whether Stewart will fill in as the No. 2 behind quarterback Mike Gerardi, or if he will instead begin his senior year behind Gerardi's week 1 back-up, sophomore Chris Coyer.

Local forecasts are calling for clear skies and a temperature of 71-degrees at game time. Sounds like a nice night in Akron. 17-1 odds LeBron James shows up to root on the Zips. Who wants action?

Update: With just over six minutes left to play in the 1st quarter, the field has been cleared and the game has entered into a weather delay as a result of storms in the Akron area. So much for that "hourly Weather Channel forecast" we cited above. Meteorology!

We'll update when they come back out.

Update 2: They're back out (7:45 p.m.).

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

It appears that Carson Wentz' fanbase in North Dakota is still pretty strong. Before North Dakota State’s game against Illinois State Saturday afternoon, fans were seen walking around the parking lot in Carson Wentz Eagles’ jerseys. 

Wearing Eagles gear at the tailgate was not all, however. A large group of people begun chanting “Carson” over and over to show their love and support for the Eagles quarterback. 

This is not the first time we have seen North Dakota State fans showing how much they adore Carson Wentz. Going back to the NFL Draft, fans were seen on the red carpet wearing North Dakota State Wentz jersey’s and waving flags.

On Sept. 19, when the Eagles played the Bears, North Dakotans traveled to see Wentz play in person.

Clearly, Wentz has a lot of love from his fans back at home, but it is safe to say that Eagles fans love him just as much after he has led them to a 3-0 start.  

It doesn't hurt that Wentz' cousin, Connor, plays for North Dakota State. Connor is a redshirt junior tight end.

John Clark with Connor Wentz

A photo posted by Rob Kuestner (@rkuestner23) on

Expect Sixers to take cautious approach with Ben Simmons

Expect Sixers to take cautious approach with Ben Simmons

Expect the Sixers to take a cautious approach when determining Ben Simmons’ return to the court.

Simmons will undergo surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot, according to a league source. No date has been set for the surgery. On Friday, Simmons rolled his ankle during the final training camp scrimmage. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Sixers believe Simmons has an acute injury that is not related to his weight, which is up to 250 pounds.

The Sixers placed a heavy emphasis on maintaining health and preventing re-injuries during camp. That focus will continue into the regular season. They implemented load management, in which they allocate the best use of a player’s designated minutes. 

The approach was applied to Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, as they entered the preseason coming off of injuries. Embiid, who is nearing his NBA debut, had been sidelined the past two years with foot injuries. Okafor underwent season-ending right knee surgery last March. Both are slated to play Oct. 4 in the preseason opener. Gerald Henderson also followed load management for rest.  

“There are more variables going on pre-practice,” Brett Brown said Friday. “Before we design our practices and figure out how we’re going to maneuver through the day, the first thing we always do is we put on a digital projector a depth chart and we have the medical staff behind us talking about the circumstances of each player and the restrictions that each player has. 

“Once you understand that world, then you go over to the practice plan and you say, ‘How do you want to spend your money?’ I don’t want to use Joel’s minutes up in a lot of small drills when I could spend it easily and more wisely playing.”

Following this plan, Embiid, Okafor and Henderson did not participate in all of the scrimmages. When they did, Brown utilized Embiid and Okafor in spurts instead of long stretches. 

“Four-minute clumps and really trying to test themselves,” Brown said. “Let’s learn a little bit before we play the Celtics. Let’s just go as hard as you possibly can, let’s see what that means.”

The mapped-out formula allows the players to gauge how they assert their energy on the court. The Celtics took a similar approach with Kevin Garnett during the 2011-12 season. Doc Rivers implemented a “5-5-5” plan in which Garnett played in three five-minute spurts. 

“You kind of know the rhythm you are going to have,” Okafor said. “I think that’ll make it easier for myself and I’m sure for Jo as well knowing that we have four minutes to go as hard as we can, to make an impact on the game, and then we have a sub.” 

The Sixers assessed the length of these segments by comparing them to real-game situations. They want the scrimmage setting to simulate the flow regular season contest. The Sixers are looking to feature an uptempo this season and ranked first in the NBA last season with a total of 1,427.4 miles run. 

“With our sports science program, we’re designing our practice on trips,” Brown said. “How many trips does a normal NBA game have before there’s a stoppage in play? You see, it’s about six, seven trips. You’ve got to go for that … We’re very calculated on how we design our practice to reflect the true pace of a game.”

While there is the eagerness of players to make a comeback as quickly as possible, following the team’s carefully constructed recovery timeline is critical to prevent the reoccurance of injuries. Embiid better understands the importance of waiting after undergoing two surgeries. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab … the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor told me you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to people have to say.”

The Sixers drafted Simmons to be a centerpiece of their team for the future, not just this season. It is worth being careful early on to help him be healthy down the road.