Saturday, October 2, 2010

Temple rises to the challenge once again

Temple fans got to experience a beautiful setting and a win Saturday.

Rather than feeling blue once they arrive later this week in Illinois to face a Northern Illinois team that won at Minnesota and is coming off a 50-point outburst in a win over Akron, Temple's football players might be in a bit of a comfort zone once they arrive.
Heck, playing perhaps the first- or second-best team in the Mid-American Conference is  a challenge, but this season has been one step steeper than the other so far.
They are used to challenges and, in almost all cases, they've risen to it.
Nothing new to these Owls after what they've been through, the latest a come-from-behind 42-35 win at Army.
This is the dangest schedule I've ever seen Temple play.
Maybe not the toughest, but I don't remember ever seeing a schedule where the next week's challenge was tougher than the last one.
The Villanova game presented a huge monkey in the form of getting back the Mayor's Cup and credibility in the old hometown.
Central Michigan meant slaying the reigning perennial champion in the league.
UConn might have been the biggest one of all, sending a message to the Big East that Temple, not Villanova, was the Philadelphia team they should have kept and should go after.
Penn State would have been a program-defining win and shocked the world, but who could forsee losing a Heisman Trophy candidate on the day when the quarterback would throw three picks?
Now Army.
It's almost impossible to fathom a Temple team scoring 29 straight points against a good team in front of 30,000 of their fans, but that's what happened yesterday.
"It was the biggest win we've had since we've been here," Al Golden said.
I believe him. I believe it, too.

I thik in many respects this opponent was even tougher than Penn State was because the Owls had to get that one out of their heads and, at the same time, focus on how to stop a difficult offense in a short work week.
Now Northern Illinois.
They don't seem to be getting any easier, do they?
Maybe this schedule provides just the focus these Owls need to avoid pitfalls.
Great job by Matt Brown, but also a great job by Mark D'Onofrio making the necessary adjustments to shut down Army's sophisticated scheme. Quarterback Chester Stewart played better, didn't panic, didn't throw into reads. Maybe he learned something watching Penn State game film. Still holds the ball too much like a loaf of bread for my taste, but maybe some more film study will rid him of that bad habit.
And who knew Joey Jones could throw the tightest spiral of the day?
The schedule has demanded the team and the fans focus on the next challenge and I wouldn't want it any other way.
Apparently, neither do they.