— Story by Martin Shnayder
Tough loss to the Nittany Lions. Here are the grades
Phillip Walker: Statistically, Walker played a very solid game, especially on the road in a hostile environment like the one at Penn State. However, Walker’s throws were erratic at times and he missed a few open receivers that could have changed the outcome of this game. Overall though, it wasn’t his best or worst game as the quarterback of the Owls, and he did a great job protecting the ball with his only turnover coming on the last drive of the game in desperation. He gave Temple a chance to win the game, but at this stage of his career you wish he was the kind of quarterback that could go out and win you a game instead of just giving you a chance.
Jahad Thomas: Thomas missed the first two games of the season with an injured left hand. He returned to the field against Penn State and showed flashes of what made him the best offensive player on the team last year when he ran for 1262 yards and 17 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he was unable to get into the same kind of rhythm Saturday against Penn State. Despite this, he still totaled 100 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Not a bad debut game against a Big Ten defense.
Offensive Line: Temple’s offensive line is filled with experience lead by tackle Dion Dawkins. That experience failed to shine through at Beaver Stadium on Saturday though. The offensive line had a rough game run blocking as Thomas was never able to get into a good groove, the pocket routinely collapsed around quarterback Phillip Walker, and the offensive line committed numerous false start and holding penalties that hurt potential scoring drives. If football games are truly won and lost in the trenches, then it is no surprise that Temple lost this game.
Hasson Reddick: Temple’s defense struggled mightily in this game against Penn State allowing a mixture of big plays and long sustained drives. There was one player who stood out though in a positive light on Saturday, and that was the red-shirt senior from Camden, New Jersey. Reddick was all over the field making tackles against Penn State on Saturday and had his name called by the announcers multiple times. He might be the next defensive Temple player to make a NFL roster.
Secondary: While the front seven didn’t play much better or get pressure on the quarterback, they were at least able to do a solid job against the run. The secondary on the other hand struggled all around giving up 287 yards through the air. It was Penn State WR Chris Godwin who was made to look unstoppable all day as he ended up with 7 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. There was some promise going into the season that the secondary would still manage to play well with Sean Chandler and Nate Smith leading the way back there, but they didn’t seem to pass the test on Saturday against their first real passing threat of the season.
Austin Jones: Jones was perfect for the day going 2 for 2 on field goal attempts and 3 for 3 on extra points. However, he didn’t quite get the job done on his most important kick of the day as his onside attempt in the fourth quarter never had much of a chance to be recovered by Temple. Still, considering Temple lost multiple games two years ago because they didn’t have a reliable kicker; it has been nice to see Austin Jones become one of the more consistent parts of this team.
Alex Starzyk: Starzyk struggled getting distance on much of his punts today. His long was only 43 yards and he averaged a mediocre 37.5 yards a punt. However, it was his brilliant rugby style punt that had the ball go off an unaware Penn State player in the fourth quarter which lead to Temple recovering the ball inside the Penn State one yard line and eventually scoring a touchdown to make it a close game. Now if he could just get some air under his punts as well..
Matt Rhule: I think it is only fair to grade the coach if we are going to grade the players as well. This was a homecoming for Matt Rhule who played linebacker under Joe Paterno at Penn State. For Rhule, I think he has seen better days at State College. He was slow to make adjustments in the first half with his offense struggling and his defense giving up chunks down the field. To his credit though, he ran more swing screen passes and sweep plays in the second half that seemed to work well against the Penn State defense. His worst moments however came late in the game when he exhibited the Andy Reid Fundamentals of Clock Management by burning two of his timeouts early in the second half, and then not having his offense run a quicker no huddle down ten points with under five minutes to go. I was having War style flashbacks to the Andy Reid days.