Temple's Passing Game Exposed in 13-10 Loss to Bowling Green

Temple's Passing Game Exposed in 13-10 Loss to Bowling Green

The 2011 Temple Owls have proven to be fantastic frontrunners. They've also proven to be absolutely dreadful when playing from behind. Against Bowling Green on Saturday, the Owls' No. 1 flaw was fully exposed: they have an inability to throw the football.

Despite giving up over 100 yards to both Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown, the Bowling Green defense did what was most important by keeping those backs out of the end zone. And though Temple did rip off 217 yards on the ground, too many of the yards in that total were picked up on the wrong side of the 50-yard line.

Bowling Green stacked the box against the Owls and shut down the run for better part of the ball game. Yes, Pierce went over the century mark and finished with a yards per carry of 6.2 for the game, but far too few of his gains could be characterized as meaningful. As the day went on, it became clear that the junior running back was hampered by some sort of leg injury, possibly to his hamstring. Though he would gut it out as best he could, scoring a TD and continuing to run hard despite a considerable limp, it wouldn't be enough against a Bowling Green team content to let Temple run the ball.

Under center, Chester Stewart registered just 13 passing attempts. In a game where running ball clearly wasn't enough, the pass just never seemed an option. When asked to engineer drives late in the game, Stewart looked out of his element, making poor decisions and worse throws.

Sure, Stewart has been impressive simply managing the game when Temple has had success running the football, but Saturday was a reminder that he lacks the skills to do much more. Temple needed to pass the ball more than 13 times. The fact that it didn't appears to point to a lack of confidence in Stewart.

If such is the case—if Temple needs to pass the football because the running game isn't getting it done—then Mike Gerardi has to come into the ball game. Let's be clear, the junior quarterback is no savior, he's simply a better passer than Stewart. What happened on Saturday was plainly unacceptable, and it's maddening to see the the coaching staff refuse to throw the ball because they lack the faith that their quarterback—or perhaps quarterbacks—can get the job done.

When the offense did break some plays down the field, they were all too often brought back by penalties. Temple was flagged 12 times versus the Falcons for a total of 97 yards. Nearly every play broken by the Owls for a big gain was squashed by an infraction. Be sure, the penalties did play a role, but they weren't the whole story.

Coach Steve Addazio can defend his play calling and blame those penalties if he likes—he wouldn't be totally wrong to do so—but it won't change the fact that Temple refused to throw the football when it needed to most. If it's due to a lack of confidence in Stewart, then other options—Mike Gerardi, Chris Coyer—must be explored. If it's rooted in stubbornness and a refusal to change the play-calling relative to the situation, that needs to be fixed as well. But if the coaching staff's refusal to open up the offense is generated from a lack of confidence in any of the passers on the roster, then the 2011 Temple Owls are simply a flawed football team.

With that said, while Saturday's loss certainly exposes Temple's weaknesses, it hardly dooms the season. Likewise, it says absolutely nothing about whether the team is somehow worthy or unworthy to play in another conference. It's just a loss they could have—and should have—done without.

Since training camp, both Addazio and his players have asserted and reasserted that their chief goal is to win the MAC championship. Leading the Eastern division at 3-2, they're still right on track to accomplish that goal. But the road to reach the 2011 MAC title game is now a little harder; and that, by itself, is plenty bad enough.

Phillies want 2 bats for Velasquez, deal unlikely at this point; Tigers check on Hellickson

Phillies want 2 bats for Velasquez, deal unlikely at this point; Tigers check on Hellickson

ATLANTA – Two days before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Phillies have several pitchers who could be on the move.

The market for Jeremy Hellickson, Saturday night’s starter against the Braves, remains alive. The Phillies have received several offers, but nothing yet to their liking. A strong start against Atlanta on Saturday would certainly help the right-hander's value.

The Phillies had talks with Miami about Hellickson, but the Marlins filled their need for starting pitching by acquiring Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from San Diego earlier in the week.

Pittsburgh, Texas, Toronto, Baltimore, the Dodgers and others remain in the market for starting pitching. The Detroit Tigers could be a team to watch on Hellickson. They had a scout come in to watch Hellickson pitch in Atlanta on Saturday night.

The headline-grabbing name on the Phillies’ trade front remains Vince Velasquez. Major league sources continue to tell CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies have had meaningful trade discussions with the Texas Rangers involving the power-armed right-hander.

Sources say a deal is unlikely at this time because the Phillies are seeking a high price and the Rangers could use their prospect resources in their quest to add a more established pitcher like Chris Sale or Chris Archer or a catcher like Milwaukee’s Jonathan Lucroy. But it remains noteworthy that the Phillies have made Velasquez available for the right price.

What is that price?

Sources say the Phillies would like to get two hitters from Texas’ bounty. One of those hitters must be ready to play in the majors now and the other must be close. The Rangers have a number of hitters who fit this description. Outfielder Nomar Mazara is almost certainly untouchable. (He was last year in the Cole Hamels talks). Power-hitting outfielder Joey Gallo, infielder Jurickson Profar and outfielder Lewis Brinson would probably fit the Phils’ wish list.

A source described the Phillies as being “pretty deep” in talks with Texas. The Rangers even dispatched a top scout to watch Velasquez pitch in Atlanta on Friday night. The scout was not in attendance for Saturday night’s game.

Relievers David Hernandez and Jeanmar Gomez are also in play in the last couple of days before the deadline. The Giants, who need bullpen help, have had scouts tailing the Phillies for a couple of weeks.

More NFL Notes: Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins not at training camp

More NFL Notes: Texans star WR DeAndre Hopkins not at training camp

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins did not report to training camp Saturday.

Entering his fourth pro season, Hopkins is holding out for a new contract. He is scheduled to make $1 million in salary in the final season of his rookie contract, though the Texans have picked up his fifth-year option.

Hopkins can be fined up to $40,000 for every day he misses camp.

He comes off a huge season with 111 receptions, 1,521 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns despite inconsistency at quarterback and few other receiving options on the Texans.

Houston general manager Rick Smith said in a statement: "We are disappointed DeAndre has elected not to report to training camp with the rest of his teammates. He has expressed his position regarding his contract status, and we have been clear with both he and his representatives of ours. Our focus is on the 2016 season and all of our collective efforts and attention will be centered on that endeavor."

Hopkins was the 27th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of Clemson. He has started all 48 games in his career, making 239 catches for 3,533 yards and 19 touchdowns. He went to the Pro Bowl last season.

49ers: Offensive lineman Anthony Davis reinstated by NFL
SAN FRANCISCO -- Right tackle Anthony Davis was reinstated by the NFL on Saturday after an 11-month retirement that he planned to come back from all along.

The San Francisco 49ers made the announcement ahead of their first day of training camp Sunday under new coach Chip Kelly.

Davis was the 49ers' first-round draft choice, the 11th overall pick, in the 2010 draft out of Rutgers. He was affected by a concussion late in the 2014 season.

On June 5, 2015, at age 25, Davis announced his retirement in another surprising offseason departure last year for the 49ers. He became the fourth prominent San Francisco player to retire in a three-month span, joining linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland and defensive end Justin Smith. The announcement came four days before the team's mandatory June minicamp.

Also Saturday, San Francisco placed nose tackle Ian Williams on the reserve/non-football injury list (see full story).

Bears: LB Willie Young signs to 2-year extension
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bears signed outside linebacker Willie Young to a two-year contract extension on Saturday.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The 30-year-old Young signed with the Bears two years ago after spending his first four seasons with division-rival Detroit. He had a career-high 10 sacks that year before tearing his Achilles tendon in December, but bounced back to play in 15 games with 6 1/2 sacks last season.

MLB Notes: Nationals acquire All-Star closer Mark Melancon from Pirates

MLB Notes: Nationals acquire All-Star closer Mark Melancon from Pirates

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Washington Nationals have acquired All-Star closer Mark Melancon from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Washington sent reliever Felipe Rivero and pitching prospect Taylor Hearn to the Pirates for Melancon, who supplants Jonathan Papelbon as Washington's closer.

Melancon, a 31-year-old right-hander, has 30 saves and a 1.51 ERA this season. He is making $9.65 million and is eligible for free agency after the World Series.

Papelbon is 2-4 with a 4.41 ERA and has allowed eight runs and seven hits in his past three outing. Manager Dusty Baker wouldn't say earlier Saturday whether Papelbon still was his closer. Baker pulled Papelbon from a game Thursday in the ninth inning.

Rivero, a 25-year-old lefty, is 0-3 with a 4.53 ERA this season. Hearn is a 21-year-old lefty who was the Nationals' fifth-round pick in the 2015 amateur draft (see full story).

GIANTS: Pence back after 48-game absence
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right fielder Hunter Pence was activated Saturday and in the starting lineup against the Nationals after missing 48 games with a strained right hamstring that required surgery.

San Francisco hopes Pence will bring some much-needed life to a club that had lost 11 of 13 since the All-Star break.

Newly acquired infielder Eduardo Nunez made his first start since joining the team in a trade from Minnesota on Thursday and having his first at-bat Friday. Nunez was playing shortstop Saturday because Brandon Crawford, who lined into a bases-loaded triple play during Friday's 4-1 loss, had a sore left hand from a swing early in the game.

Center fielder Denard Span also was out of the lineup because of a tender quadriceps from a collision at home plate Friday.

The Giants designated for assignment infielder Ramiro Pena to clear roster room for Pence's return.  

MARINERS: Karns to DL, Martin recalled
CHICAGO -- The Seattle Mariners have placed right-hander Nathan Karns on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain a day after he was roughed up in a relief appearance.

Right-hander Cody Martin was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma before Saturday's game against the Cubs.

Chicago scored five runs in two innings off Karns in Friday's 12-1 romp. He gave up three hits, walked three and allowed a home run to David Ross.

Karns began the season as a starter, but was moved to the bullpen in June. He has a 5.15 ERA.

Martin has appeared in two games and thrown four innings for Seattle this season, allowing one run and five hits.