Temple-'Nova Preview: Get Your Roll outs Ready

Temple-'Nova Preview: Get Your Roll outs Ready

Big 5 game. Big East controversy. Big student roll outs. This has the potential to special.

The Temple Owls are set to host the Villanova Wildcats from inside the Apollo on Broad. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday evening (ESPN 2 / 1210 AM).

My hype meter is off the charts. Let's blow this thing out.

[Temple-'Nova notes after the jump]

We're Looking at You, Yarou
Mouphtaou Yarou has the size and strength to swing this entire game. If you've been following our college coverage so far this year, then you are no doubt aware of Temple's injury issues and lack of height. Consequently, it will be up to the 6-9, 205-pound red-shirt freshman Anthony Lee to deal with the 6-10, 255-pound Yarou.

Outside of Lee, the next tallest Temple Owl legitimately "in" the rotation is the super-long, though nonetheless only 6-6, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson.

If Villanova coach Jay Wright isn't running his offense straight through Yarou and directly at Lee, there will be absolutely no defense for the Wildcats if they fail to get the job done. That said, John Lamb of OwlsBlog.com raises an interesting point about the wildly inconsistent Yarou, "No Owl can match up with Yarou’s beefy 250-pound body, but the same could be said for Missouri (whose tallest active player is 6-9) and they did just fine" when Yarou finished with only 11 points in 33 minutes.

Villanova in Transition
…leaves a lot to be desired. Baiting Lee into foul trouble will force Temple make an already undersized five-man set even shorter. Though, it's tough to tell if it's really in Villanova's best interest to see Temple go small.

To borrow from Brian Ewart of VUhoops.com, "Villanova has been repeatedly burned in transition [in 2011], where players tend to take just a second too long to find their defensive assignment."

This is where Temple's Juan Fernandez could absolutely torch the 'Nova defense. Though Juan has his shortcomings, there's no denying his vision in the open floor. Combine his rapid creativity and reinvigorated jump shot with high-percentage three-point shooters in Aaron Brown and Khalif Wyatt and a difficult cover for any team in Ramon Moore, and Villanova will have its hands full in stopping the Owls.

Setting the Pace and Shooting from behind the Arc
Maalik Wayns and Dominic Cheek have struggled mightily from three this season, posting shooting percentages of 32.5% and 27.3%, respectively. As a team, Villanova is shooting just 35% from three.

The Owls, on the other hand, are up only four percentage points at 39% as a group, but are getting a big boost from the sudden emergence of sophomore Aaron Brown.

If Wayns and Cheek aren't hitting early, it would be in their best interests to work their way to the basket and try to get to the line, potentially putting an already undermanned Temple in foul trouble.

Where 'Nova seems better off looking to hammer the ball into the post and penetrate the lane, Temple might do well to cash in on its recent success both in transition and from behind the line. In that sense, Temple will be doing everything it can to up the pace, while 'Nova could and, probably, should look to slow things down.

Salty Student Section
With streamers outlawed, Big 5 student sections have had to embrace more fully the tradition of creating large roll out banners to taunt the opposition. Unless, of course, the game is being played at the Pavilion. Thankfully, Saturday's won't be.

Though the coaches and players will focus on the basketball and that aspect of the Temple-'Nova rivalry, it will be hard for fans to look at this game and not see more.

Expect the Temple students to have plenty to say regarding the Villanova administration and the Owls' place in the recent Big East realignment fiasco. As for the 'Nova students, I'm not sure what to expect. After all, they didn't even show up to the building in 2009.

Speaking of History
Temple has won twenty-three straight games at home, losing only to top-ranked Kansas in 2009 in their last three seasons at the Liacouras Center. Just three weeks before that blowout, the Owls knocked off then #3 Villanova on the back of a career-high 33 points from Fernandez.

Last year, Villanova held its own home court in the definition of a Big 5 classic, finishing on top 78-74 thanks to a 21 point breakout performance from Maalik Wayns.

Who will be THE GUY tomorrow?

Your relevant All-Time Statistics
Series: Villanova leads 44-41
At Temple: Temple leads 14-8
At Liacouras Center: Temple leads 3-2
Dunphy vs. Villanova: 4-13
Wright vs. Temple: 8-3

And, Finally, for You Degenerate Gamblers
The line opened surprisingly large with Temple favored by as many 9 points. Though, within the last 36 hours, that spread has shrunk to as little as 4 1/2 (see Bodog), which is far more reflective of what it should have been all along.

As always on this front, proceed as you will (and I don't want any more e-mails asking for specific advice on wagers. Well, I mean, I want them; I'm just not sure I'm allowed to respond. Or want to…I don't know (see above)).

And we'll see you post-game.

Source: Eagles CB Ron Brooks to have knee surgery

Source: Eagles CB Ron Brooks to have knee surgery

It sounds like the Eagles will be out without a member of their secondary for a while, perhaps the rest of the season.

A league source tells CSN's Derrick Gunn that Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks will require surgery to repair an injury to his right knee. The Philadelphia Daily News' Les Bowen is reporting the injury is a serious quadriceps rupture that will end Brooks's first season as an Eagle and put him on the shelf until next summer's training camp.

Brooks was carted off the field after attempting to make an open-field tackle during the first quarter of Sunday's 21-10 win over visiting Minnesota. Brooks stayed down on the field for several minutes before his leg was stabilized and he was placed on a cart.

Brooks, 28, is primarily the Eagles' slot corner, but he's also a standout on special teams. A free-agent who left Buffalo to sign a three-year deal with the Eagles this past offseason, Brooks has 12 total tackles and a pass deflection this season, the LSU grad's fifth in the league.

Malcolm Jenkins slid over to slot corner in Brooks' absence Sunday, which allowed Jaylen Watkins to come in and see more playing time.

If Brooks is placed on injured reserve, the Eagles will have an open roster spot, possibly for another corner.

Doug Pederson: Eagles rebound after getting 'lip bloodied a little bit'

Doug Pederson: Eagles rebound after getting 'lip bloodied a little bit'

They were great before the bye. They were bad since.

The Eagles rallied against the Lions only to lose late because of two turnovers. Then last week at Washington, they laid an egg.

But on Sunday, they looked like the pre-bye team — at least defensively — and handed the Vikings their first loss of the season.

"This is a team that for two weeks in a row has kind of got their lip bloodied a little bit," head coach Doug Pederson said after the 21-10 victory (see Instant Replay). "The Detroit game, obviously feeling sick about that one, and then last week in Washington not playing well and up to our potential.

"These guys are professionals. They know how to get themselves ready to go. I don't feel like I have to motivate them. ... They really took it upon themselves this week to really make the corrections, No. 1, from last week and the adjustments. The veterans, the leadership stood up today, took command of the game, and that's what you like to see from this group."

More from Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz:

The defense
If the Eagles were going to win this game, the defense would have to dominate.

It did (see story).

The Vikings finished with only 282 yards from scrimmage — or 52 more than the Redskins rushed for last week against the Eagles.

The Eagles held Minnesota to 93 yards rushing (3.4 per carry) and battered Sam Bradford, who was 24 for 41 for 224 yards with a pick and a garbage-time TD. They sacked him six times (they had zero last week) and forced him to fumble four times. Bradford entered the game without a turnover this season.

"I think the guys just put it in their mind to play better than last week," Pederson understated. "Our defensive line really came off the ball today, really took it upon themselves to just attack the line of scrimmage and play on their side.

Two of the Eagles' three takeaways occurred in the red zone and in the first quarter, when the game was scoreless. They picked off Bradford on 3rd-and-goal at the 6 and forced a fumble on 1st down at the 17.

"It's huge," Pederson said. "Our defense playing as well as they did down there and stopping them. ... It was fun to watch our defense today. That's the defense that we expect every week going forward."

Bring the heat
The Eagles blitzed more than they had all season (see story). 

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz prefers to let his front four bring the pressure, but it hadn't worked the last two weeks, and now they were facing Sam Bradford, who was familiar with the scheme.

"Anytime you know a quarterback on the other team and kind of know his strengths and weaknesses and things like that — just try to give him some different looks, put some pressure on him from different areas," Pederson said. "It was a great game plan. ... Sometimes just changing things up to help your guys be in position — we benefitted from that today, and guys did a nice job."

Going for two after a made PAT
Midway through the second quarter, Pederson took a point off the board and decided to go for two after the Vikings were penalized for hitting Caleb Sturgis on an extra point, which was successful.

Wentz made the conversion with a QB sneak.

"It was kind of a no-brainer, because you get the ball at the 1," Pederson said.

"I've got a lot of trust in our guys. If you don't work those situations in practice and talk about those situations, then yeah, negative things can happen. But I felt totally 100 percent confident in our guys to execute that play."

Another "no-brainer"
Pederson hasn't been afraid to go for it on fourth down — the Eagles entered the game 4 for 4 on fourth downs — and on Sunday he converted another.

On the aforementioned drive, the Eagles faced a 4th-and-2 at the Vikings' 44. After unsuccessfully trying to draw the Vikings offside, the Eagles called timeout ... and sent the offense back out to go for it.

"Sometimes at that point, they feel like you're going to rush the punt team out there and burn the timeout," Pederson said, "but I went with the offense. I just had total confidence that we were going to get the first down.

"It was a kind of, again, a no-brainer — almost like the two-point conversion."

The play was an run-pass option ... until Wentz dropped the snap. He then ran six yards for the first.

"Obviously when he dropped it, at that point, it was run all the way," Pederson said. "But great execution."

"One more shot"
With 15 seconds left in the first half, the Eagles had the ball at the Minnesota 17. 

Pederson sent out the field goal unit for a 35-yarder, but when the Vikings called timeout to ice Sturgis, it gave Pederson time to change his mind.

The offense came back onto the field. Wentz threw incomplete to Jordan Matthews in the end zone, and then Sturgis came back and hit the field goal.

"Take one more shot," Pederson said. "Max the protection. It's two-man route. It's either a completion or an incomplete pass."

Wentz said there was "a little indecisiveness on the sideline," but once the play was decided on ... 

"It was just a max protect throw to Jordan or throw it away," Wentz said. 'It was pretty plain and simple: Don't take a sack."

All's well that ends well
Wentz botched a handoff. He threw two ugly interceptions in the first quarter. 

OK, those things happen (see Wentz's overall evaluation).

But he also dropped three snaps. How?

"I'm not really sure," Wentz said. "I just have to catch the ball, for starters. Some of them were a little off, but those are the things that we have to clean up."

On one of the dropped snaps, he converted the 4th-and-2. On another, he recovered and found Darren Sproles for a 19-yard gain.

Now, about those interceptions. On the first, he overthrew a blanketed Brent Celek. On the second, he forced a throw to Nelson Agholor with too much purple around.

"That one was 3rd-and-12, and there's no need to force that one," Wentz said. "As a quarterback, sometimes that happens. There's really no rhyme or reason. You see things and you kick yourself in the tail after the play, but you learn from it and move on."

Picks aside, Wentz's numbers weren't pretty — 16 for 28 passing for 138 yards with a TD. Pederson said Wentz "might have been pressing a little bit early" but overall "played efficient."

"Love the way he settled in," Pederson said. "There was no panic for him and any of us on the sideline."

Big V
Wentz was sacked five times last week. On Sunday, he wasn't sacked at all.

The Eagles at times max-protected, but they also benefitted from the improved play of rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who was in his second game in place of suspended Lane Johnson.

Pederson said he didn't help Vaitai as much as he did against Washington.

"I felt he kind of settled in this week, did a nice job," Pederson said. "The run game obviously helps. ... We were in some two tight-end sets a little more today, and that obviously helped him a little bit. We'll evaluate the film tomorrow, but I thought overall he did a nice job."