By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
During his first press luncheon of the season on Tuesday, Temple head coach Steve Addazio said he wanted to pay close attention to how his young offensive line would engineer the Owls rushing attack.
The Owls first drive of the game may have given Addazio the answer he wanted to see.
Temple offensive line set the tone from outset by opening the scoring with a 14-play, 78-yard drive that culminated with Chris Coyer hitting running back Kenneth Harper on an eight-yard shuttle pass. Eleven of their 14 plays were on the ground.
“That was power football at its best,” Addazio said. “We wanted to do that and we did it and I was really excited about that.”
For the game, the Owls would roll up 301 yards rushing on its way to a 41-10 win over Villanova in front of 32,709 fans at Lincoln Financial Field in what will be the final Mayor’s Cup Game until further notice.
Whether it was running back Matt Brown or quarterback Chris Coyer or, the Owls offensive line was able to open holes for their backs. Brown gained 145 yards on 19 carries while Coyer added 86 yards on 13 carries. Addazio said he liked his line’s performance, but they have work to do to get better.
“I felt like they gave us effort, but we gotta get clean,” Addazio said. “We’ve got to finish blocks. I thought they protected well when we did throw it. I felt, at times, we looked good. We got a ways to go. This preseason camp I had to back off because we were thin and without a lot of depth. We were fighting through it, but we were a little gassed out there.”
With senior running back Montel Harris out with a hamstring strain early in the game, Brown was the big workhorse on offense. But in addition to his yards on offense, he had 84 yards in punt returns which gave him 229 total yards for the game.
“I think I ran okay, but I think I could have run even better, but you know everybody critiques themselves,” Brown said. “My O-line provided some holes for me and made it easier for me to run They created lanes that I could run through. We held it down.”
The Owls passing game, another area of concern for Addazio. Croyer was 5- of-11 passing for 61yards. But with the way the Owls ran the football on Villanova, they didn’t need the passing game as much. Croyer did throw a mean block on Villanova cornerback Eric Loper.
“”If we gotten a first down on the block I would have liked it even more,” Croyer said.
Meanwhile, the Temple defense also contributed to the scoring and set up the Owls offense with good field position to score. Free safety Vaughn Carraway gave Temple a 14-3 lead on a 57-yard interception return. The Owls sacked Villanova quarterbacks four times.
“The ball was in the air, I just went up and got it and saw the endzone,” Carraway said.
On Villanova’s next possession after the interception for a touchdown, Carraway recovered a fumbled at the Wildcats 24. Three plays later, Croyer scored on a 19-yard run to make the score 21-3.
“That was a big momentum changer,” Carraway said. “The defense needed that one so that we could get our offense back on the field to score some points.”
Near the end of the first half, Villanova’s offense finally got out of its own way and moved 69 yards in seven plays that was capped by a four-yard run by Villanova redshirt freshman quarterback John Roberston to cut the lead to 21-10.
But Temple effectively ended the competitive portion of the game on its next possession. It took them just 39 seconds to push the lead to back to 18 when Brown streaked past the left side of the Villanova defense for a 56-yard run.
“That broke out back and it hurt a lot when you have a team like ours that doesn’t have a lot of confidence and rhythm,” said Villanova head coach Andy Talley. “Now you’re down 18 and it’s like aw man, it’s a struggle.”
Temple got one more touchdown in the second half on a 38-yard run by fullback Kenny Harper and a pair of field goals by Brandon McManus, who became Temple’s all-time leader in field goals made with 48 surpassing the previous school record held by Bill Wright (1985-1988).