By Matt Leon
The Temple Owls put together a great all-around effort to open the 2014 season last week. Now they will look to repeat that performance on Saturday when they play their home opener against Navy.
The Owls went on the road against the SEC’s Vanderbilt Commodores and rolled to a 37-7 victory last Thursday. It was Temple’s first win over a team currently in the SEC since they beat Florida back in 1938, 20-12.
“I was really happy for our kids,” Temple head coach Matt Rhule tells KYW Newsradio. “They’ve worked really, really hard, really since the end of the season last year. We got started the Monday morning after we beat Memphis and for them to go that long and then go out there and play well and get a win, I think was really, really good for them and I’m happy for them.”
Temple got a couple of touchdown passes and a touchdown run from sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker in the win. The Temple defense held Vanderbilt to 13 first downs 278 yards of total offense. But Rhule says what really impressed him about his team’s performance couldn’t be measured on a stat sheet.
“I was just really pleased with the way we kind of handled some of the adversity,” Rhule says. “Handling the lightning delay (game started about an hour and a half late), handling the heat, it was really, really hot down there. Handling the fact that we fumbled a punt in the end zone to tie it up 7-7 and our kids ran off the field and they had each other’s backs and they said, ‘Hey don’t worry about it, we’ll come back.’ And that’s really what we’re looking for. As we get ready to play a really, really talented, well coached Navy team this week, we’re going to have to have everybody on the same page. So I was pleased with, not only did we get the win, but we played that game as one team.”
Now the Owls focus on that match-up with Navy. The Midshipmen opened their season with a loss, but they gave #5 Ohio State all it could handle in a 34-17 defeat. Navy actually lead 14-13, halfway through the third quarter and finished the game with 370 yards rushing. Navy utilizes the triple-option on offense and that unit has an outstanding quarterback in junior Keenan Reynolds.
“No one knows that offense the way they know it,” Rhule says. “We recognize we certainly have our work cut out for us. Our kids all saw that Ohio State game and they saw that really, Navy outplayed the #5 team in the country for about 45 of the 60 minutes of the game. We know what we have ahead and we’re excited to go play again.”