Temple Routs Villanova 41-10 on Matt Brown's Big Night

Temple Routs Villanova 41-10 on Matt Brown's Big Night

The fourth and final Mayor's Cup came to a pretty uneventful end by the time the clock struck zero Friday night. By that point, Temple had amassed a 31-point lead and the fourth quarter had played out more like an inconvenient necessity than a dramatic conclusion to a rivalry game.
Still, the Mayor's Cup was a certain success, setting a new record for the third-largest attendance to ever watch a Temple football game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Our assorted notes recap featuring Matt Brown's 270-yard performance, Brandon McManus' history-making night, attendance details, milestones, stats, story lines and postgame audio from the Temple win after the jump...

Milestones-- The announced crowd of 32,709 set a new Mayor's Cup attendance record and was the largest crowd to ever watch a Temple game at the Linc that did not involve Penn State. An encouraging sign for the game's in-question future, the size of the game's crowd grew larger in each of the past four years, moving from 27,759 in 2009 to 32,193 in 2010 to 32,638 in 2011 to 32,709 in 2012.

-- Temple senior kicker Brandon McManus set a school record for field goals made with the 47th field goal of his career on a 24-yard attempt in the fourth quarter. He extended his newly-own record with his 48th conversion as an Owl later in the quarter. The 61-yard punt he unleashed in the second half wasn't bad either.
-- Just barely a year after his first game with the program, Friday night's result secured Steve Addazio his tenth win as the head coach at Temple. The victory was Temple's fifth straight in total and fifth straight at home dating back to last season. The Owls have won their last three season openers in a row, all of them over Villanova.
Team Stats-- Total yards: Temple 362, Villanova 365-- Passing yards: Temple 61, Villanova 163-- Rushing yards: Temple 301, Villanova 212-- First downs: Temple 15, Villanova 18-- Third-down conversions: Temple 6/13, Villanova 5/14-- Turnovers: Temple 0, Villanova 2-- TOI: Temple 30:17, Villanova 29:43
Individual Performances-- Matt Brown, RB -- 270 yards on 26 touches. That kind of speaks for itself, but is worth detailing nonetheless. Brown rushed for 146 yards on 19 attempts, added 84 more yards on four kick returns and yet 41 more on three punt returns. The most important of those 26 touches came with less than a minute to play in the first half. Right after a failed 4th-and-2 attempt set up a Villanova scoring drive that cut the Owls' lead to only 11 -- 21-10 -- Brown ripped a 56-yarder to put the Owls' back up 18 with 21 seconds to go before the break. Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day opted to go for the jugular with the fourth down call, and it would have cost them on the board had Brown not immediately made up for it by putting the game on lockdown with still 30 minutes left to go. For more on Matt Brown's stellar night, including how he recruited himself to Temple by explaining that the program "sucked" anyway and that it might as well take a look at him, click here.
-- Montel Harris, RB -- Through no fault of his own, Harris' Temple debut was underwhelming. He touched the ball just six times in the first half on five rushes and one reception for 20 yards. When Temple came out of the tunnel at the half, Harris took to the sideline in sweatpants and was done for the night. After the game, it was revealed he had been battling a strained hamstring, and tried to give it a go, but was limited. Addazio said he made the decision to pull Harris so that he'd have the best chance to be ready to go in full against Maryland next week.
-- Kenny Harper, FB/RB -- In Harris' absence, Kenny Harper filled in as the complement to Brown, scoring the first two touchdowns of his collegiate career. The first came on an eight-yard shovel pass from Chris Coyer to open the scoring at 7-0 and the second came on a 38-yard run in the second half to push the Temple lead to 35-10. Moving forward, keep an eye on what Temple does with Harper when they start rearranging their backfield in the spread-option. More on that in the section below about the as-yet-unrevealed offensive playbook.
-- Chris Coyer, QB -- Coyer attempted more plays on the ground than through the air and ran for more yards than he passed. It probably won't be the last time that happens this season. The stats broke down to 86 yards and a touchdown on 13 rushing attempts and 61 yards on five completions in 11 passing attempts. To be honest, nothing much to report here as his reps were limited. He started out 3 for 3 before then going 0 for 3 and then 2 for 5. Temple ran the ball as expected, and Coyer did what he had to when asked, with the exception of a couple poor passes on third down. Still, the offense was so vanilla that it was hard to get gauge on anything, and he certainly wasn't going to get into any kind of rhythm passing the ball. In short, he was fine.
-- Vaughn Carraway, FS -- As good as Brown was, it was Carraway that swung the game in the second quarter. After a 14-play, 78-yard Villanova drive put the Wildcats on the board with a field goal and down 7-3, the Temple offense left the field on two straight three-and-outs as the game was settling in and the VU beginning to generate a bit of momentum. But when 'Nova QB Chris Polony targeted his star wideout, Norman White, down the left sideline, Carraway came over the top, intercepted the ball and and made multiple would-be tacklers look silly in his 57-yard return to the end zone. It was the second INT of his career and his first touchdown. Just two plays later, a Carraway recovered a Nate Smith-forced fumble. And just three plays after that, Coyer was in the endzone. Those two turnovers advanced the Temple lead from four to 18 points in 48 seconds. Carraway, by the way, also finished with three tackles.
-- Nate Smith, MIKE -- The man who knocked loose the aforementioned Kevin Monangai fumble, Smith led the Temple defense with seven tackles, all of which were unassisted.
Notes and Story lines-- Don't get too excited -- Yes, it was a confidence-instilling, Week 1 blowout victory, but it was against an FCS team that wasn't very good last year, and is missing three key guys on offense. This game should have played out exactly how it did. That fact that Temple took care of business is a good sign, but doesn't say much about how they'll stack up against the Big East.
-- Receivers MIA -- Well-explained by the Inqy's Keith Pompey: "West performance of the game: I hate to do this to the Owls’ outside receivers, especially when Wildcats quarterback Chris Polony completed just 2 of 7 passes and threw an interception. But I can’t overlook that Deon Miller, C.J. Hammond and Ryan Alderman were all held without a catch. Hammond failed to catch a very catchable pass on the deep throw toward the Wildcats' sideline. In Miller's defense, he's getting over an viral illness. But slot receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick, caught two passes for 33 yards, will need help if the Ow
ls expect to keep teams from loading the box to stop the run."

-- Hamstrings can be like the Cranberries -- I mean that they can linger, not that they're in your head. Montel Harris can be a great weapon for Temple this year; he's the nation's active leader in 100-yard rushing games. With any luck, he just needs some rest and a light week of practice.
-- Expanding the playbook -- The Temple offense was remarkably boring Friday night and with good reason. Temple didn't want to show much of anything to Maryland or Penn State -- their next two opponents -- and they didn't. In addressing Harper's performance postgame, Addazio spoke with excitement about what the team might look like in his fully-realized spread and how Harper and slot receivers Jalen Fitzpatrick and Khalif Herbin can all line up at tailback. So how much did they hold back? According to Matt Brown, .01% of the offensive playbook was on display Friday night.
-- Offensive line status report -- They're alive. They protected Coyer well and opened holes for the backs. They're alive.
-- Not So Stormin' Norman -- Norman White, Villanova's pro prospect wideout who missed all of last season with a foot injury, led all Wildcat receivers, but caught just four balls for 33 yards. He dropped at least two balls sent his way, including one that went right through his hands on third down. Temple doubled-up him on nearly every passing play. Talley said after that the double coverage obviously kept White's touches down, but that there were other times when quarterbacks Chris Polony and John Robertson simply missed their open receiver because they were forced to pull the ball down under pressure.
-- Fight song drowns out Talley -- Just as Andy Talley took the podium to address the media, the Temple locker room began signing the "T for Temple U" fight song. Superb timing. Listen to that audio here and Steve Addazio's postgame address below.
 
Next Up-- Temple hosts the Maryland Terrapins next Saturday at Noon. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Flyers, Brayden Schenn agree to 4-year contract

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Flyers, Brayden Schenn agree to 4-year contract

The Flyers and restricted free agent Brayden Schenn agreed to a four-year contract Monday morning to avoid arbitration.

According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the contract carries a $5.125 million annual average value, which is closer to the $5.5 million Schenn asked for in arbitration than the Flyers offered. Schenn recently turned down a two-year deal with an AAV of $4.30 million, according to CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio.

Schenn, 24, is coming off a career season in which he scored 26 goals, 33 assists and 59 points, all career-highs.

(More coming …)

Are the Eagles the most boring team in the NFC East?

Are the Eagles the most boring team in the NFC East?

If the Hinkie Era in Philadelphia has been good for one thing (it’s been good for more than one thing), it’s showing us that being the worst or least talented team is completely different than being the most boring team. Being the most boring team is far worse than being the worst team. 

What sports really boils down to is the entertainment factor. That’s it. If there’s a compelling storyline and something happening worth watching, it’s doesn’t really matter who’s winning or losing.

When it comes to the NFC East, differentiating “boring” and “worst” matters. It matters because the entire division is complete garbage. It’s unlikely that any of these four teams is going to win a single playoff game this year, let alone the Super Bowl. In fact, the NFC East hasn’t even had a repeat division champ in over a decade. It’s just a bunch of average teams fighting for a wild card spot, with an occasional anomaly like a 12-4 Cowboys season or a Giants Super Bowl victory after going 9-7.

What matters most in the NFC East, as of late, has been the stories. It’s a bit of a bummer to think about this now because, just one year ago, the Eagles weren’t just the most exciting team in the division--they were probably the most exciting team in the entire NFL. There were so many storylines: the power struggle between Chip and Howie, the explosion of the roster, the unknown surrounding Sam Bradford, the excitement of the rushing champion switching allegiances from the Cowboys, the supposed genius of the coach who we hadn’t realized the league had caught up to yet, the national pundits picking the Birds to win the Super Bowl. There were different and exciting things happening and it was just an exciting time to be a fan.

It’s crazy how quickly things change. One exhausting year later, almost no one (besides us) is talking about the Eagles. No one cares about Doug Pederson, Sam Bradford, and what’s going on at the NovaCare Complex anymore.

Which begs me to ask the question: Have the Eagles really become the most boring team in the NFC East? I really hope not, but folks, it’s not looking good.

Let’s just a quick look at some of the storylines floating around the division at the moment:

The Redskins

It might be because they’re fresh off of a division-winning season (albeit a 9-7 division-winning season), but the Redskins probably have the East’s most exciting team heading into camp.

Think about it. If anything, over the past few years, the Redskins have been fun to watch only for the fact that they’ve been the joke of the league. A totally incompetent owner wrapped up in defending his team’s racist name, a general manager being publicly accused of his affair with a reporter, and a prima donna quarterback hated by his teammates have been the sparks leading the dumpster fire.

Today, they’re compelling to watch for different reasons. They were able to pick up Josh Norman in the offseason, 2015’s best cornerback. This not only means the team’s secondary will improve in a division with some of the league’s best wide receivers, it means fans will get to watch the Norman vs. Odell Beckham Jr. rivalry unfold twice a year--a rivalry so intense it led to suspensions last season.

The team was also able to finally convince it’s delusional owner that the aforementioned prima donna quarterback was no longer worth a spot on the roster and they cut him in hopes to rebuild a healthy locker room.

His replacement, Kirk Cousins, had a pretty good final stretch of the 2015 season, putting up some pretty good numbers against a slew of teams with losing records. Because he beat a bunch of terrible teams and led his team to 9-7, Redskins management decided to hit him with the franchise tag, an action that will cost them about $20 million dollars. It makes sense. If he fails, they get to let him walk without spending anymore. If he succeeds, then it’ll be worth it and the team can work to extend him long term.

Redskins fans will be watching in hopes that all of these pieces will fall into place accordingly and carry them through an exciting season to another division title. The rest of us will be watching for the reason that it’s all likely to crash and burn. We’ll be watching nonetheless.

The Giants

As much as I hate to say it, the Giants will never be boring to watch so long as they have one player on their team: Odell Beckham Jr. I can’t stand the guy personally. Can’t. Stand. Him. I can’t stand the corny dances he does on the field before games, I can’t stand his severe lack of sportsmanship and respect for other other players on the field, I can’t stand the stupid flashy one-handed catches where it’s just as reasonable to use two, and I can’t stand his stupid face.

All of that being said, the dude is arguably the most exciting player to watch in all of football and rarely plays a game that lacks one electrifying play or another. He single-handedly saved Tom Coughlin an extra year after emerging mid season as a rookie and hasn’t really let up since. Seeing his rival Josh Norman twice a year now only increases that.

Let’s also not forget that the Giants probably made the biggest splash in this year’s free agency. The team managed to spend nearly $230 million in contracts over seven total players headlined by Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, and Damon Harrison. This is all in addition to the signing of their new head coach Ben McAdoo, who Eagles fans shouldn’t forget was one of our top choices for Pederson’s job.

Eagles fans can appreciate the sentiment behind all of these big moves, having been wooed by the romance of a couple of supposed “dream teams” in recent years. Those who watch the Giants are excited to take a big step forward. Others are excited to see them learn the lesson that great NFL teams are rarely built through free agency.

The Cowboys

Here’s the hard part. Showing some appreciation for the Dallas Cowboys. I’ll try and keep this brief.

No matter which way you spin it, the Cowboys team has some personality that people enjoy. They have Tony Romo, the quarterback that people love to hate, Jerry Jones trying to coach the team from the owner’s box, and Dez Bryant either making ridiculous plays or throwing a tantrum on the sideline. It was a spectacle when they went 12-4 and it was a spectacle when they went 4-12.

Tony Romo is projected to be the fourth oldest starting quarterback in the league this year. He broke his clavicle twice last year and has had more back surgeries that I can count on both hands. Even so, the year before last he proved that when playing healthy and to his potential, the Cowboys can be a playoff caliber team. Everyone will be watching closely to see if that happens because, obviously, America loves when America’s team does well as much as America loves when America’s team fails.

I’ve also got to admit that I’m intrigued by the potential of Ezekiel Elliott. In the long run, he was realistically awful value at the number four pick overall given the career length of the average running back, the position’s expendability in today’s league, and the plethora of good running backs in next year’s draft, but running behind their line he’ll probably be a stud fantasy player and likely Rookie of the Year candidate.

If anything else, the Cowboys are exciting to watch for the regular suspensions being dished out to their defensive line that apparently can’t stop smoking weed.

The Eagles

This brings us to the Eagles. The most exciting things happening are Fletcher Cox’s mega-contract and the fact that Howie Roseman was able to finagle his way up the draft board to get a top quarterback coming out in Carson Wentz.

I’ll admit I’m ecstatic about the Cox extension and the bold move to get a potential franchise quarterback, but with watching Cox play being nothing new and reports surfacing that Wentz will spend his rookie season redshirted, what are Eagles fans really getting excited about right now?

Is it Doug Pederson, potentially the most boring head coach hire in the history of the NFL? Is it Sam Bradford, the quarterback who has never had a winning season yet essentially said he doesn’t want to be here if he’s not going to be “the guy?” Are fans excited about the fact the team had to fire Chip Kelly, a compelling character who once took the league by storm, and basically start from scratch?

Name one guy on the Eagles roster besides their long-snapper that doesn’t have the personality of a bathtub.

I get that it’s essentially looking like a transition year to the future and in the long run, the Eagles will probably be better off, but are they the only team that doesn’t have a clear cut guy to take in the first like five rounds of a fantasy football draft?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles don’t get a single look on SportsCenter before the preseason. I think Jim Schwartz’s defense will turn some heads once real gameplay begins, but as of now, there’s really just not much to get excited about in the Eagles’ immediate future.

The Birds are certainly not the worst team in the division by any means. Hell, I wouldn’t even be completely surprised if they won it. But, right now, in this moment, they might be the NFC East’s most boring team heading into training camp.

Feel free to yell at me in the comments.

Inside Doop: Union limp home after brutal week

Inside Doop: Union limp home after brutal week

It’s time for the Union to get some rest — and try to forget what happened over the past few days.

On Saturday night, the Union suffered their worst loss of the MLS season just four days after getting knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup in crushing fashion.

What went wrong on the road trip? And how can they move on from such a brutal week? We’ll examine in the latest edition of the Inside Doop:

Three thoughts from the past week
1. Following last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls, Union head coach Jim Curtin sort of dismissed the idea of “squad rotation” while several players praised the team’s fitness for being able to rally from two goals back to tie New York. And it was true that the Union had successfully managed busy weeks for much of the last two months. But even the most fit and deep team would have struggled with what followed for the Union, who lost in an Open Cup shootout in New England after playing 120 minutes before then leaving the country to face the star-studded Montreal Impact, who drubbed them 5-1. Curtin said he wouldn’t use the grueling schedule as an excuse, but it’s certainly obvious that it played a big role.

2. Before saying he would “tear up the tape” from the rout in Montreal, Curtin candidly stated the team was “beat by stars.” That’s certainly true as the ageless African legend Didier Drogba netted his second MLS hat trick and standout Argentine playmaker Ignacio Piatti assisted on two of those goals and also scored one of his own. Perhaps in the subtext of that statement is this: the Union don’t really have any true stars of their own (except perhaps a rising one in goalkeeper Andre Blake), and while they’ve won a lot of games this season by playing well as a unit, sometimes the talent gap can be too much to overcome.

3. There’s no sense analyzing too much of how the Impact were able to score five times in a single game. Everyone along Philly’s backline played poorly and even typically surefire midfielders like Tranquillo Barnetta didn’t do enough to slow down the Montreal attack as the floodgates opened. But the fact that it came just four days after the Union had a bad breakdown to leave a player wide open on a free kick and let New England score basically an uncontested goal is troublesome. And that came just three days after the team gave up two goals at home. In other words, you can be sure a defensive-minded coach like Curtin will work to correct some of these glaring issues moving forward. Speaking of which …  

Three questions for the week ahead
1.
For a team that’s worked tirelessly on its fitness, sometimes even training twice in the same day, this week will start in somewhat of a unique way: the Union will get Monday and Tuesday off. It’s certainly understandable why Curtin wants his players to get time away from soccer after an arduous 11-game-in-39-day stretch. But will it help reenergize and galvanize the group heading into Sunday’s home game against Real Salt Lake (7 p.m., CSN)?

2. One player to keep an eye on during this week is Maurice Edu. The Union captain has yet to play this season because of a stress fracture but recently returned to the training field. Curtin has stressed the midfielder still needs time to get his fitness back up to where it should be, but there’s no question his return would give the team a big boost at a time when such a thing is needed. Could we see him get on the field, perhaps off the bench, in Sunday’s game?

3. Two players that won’t be with the Union for most of the week are goalkeeper Andre Blake and right back Keegan Rosenberry — and for good reason. The team’s two young rising stars made Thursday’s All-Star Game and traveled to San Jose today to begin preparations for the contest that features the top MLS players vs. English Premier League power Arsenal. Seeing how the two players both perform — and how much playing time they get — in such a marquee matchup will certainly be fun for Union fans. But either way, the fact both players simply got there so early in their careers is quite an accomplishment.

Quote of the week
“We've been a group that's been together and has been a team all year, and that's why we've had some success. Tonight we were beat by stars. Drogba and Piatti were unstoppable.”

-- Union head coach Jim Curtin

Stat of the week
Saturday’s 5-1 loss was the Union’s worst since they lost by the same scoreline to the L.A. Galaxy on June 20, 2015.

Player of the week
It sort of got lost in the general frustration of the week but rookie Fabian Herbers did a lot of damage off the bench, scoring his first career U.S. Open Cup goal in dramatic fashion before getting a secondary assist on Philly’s only goal Saturday. Did he earn himself a start coming up?