FanPost

Previewing the Temple Game and The Spread

We beat Cincinnati. Teddy is better than Munchie. That was the biggest hurdle we have had to date. The CARDS roll into the Temple game 8-0 and will face a Temple team that we beat the last time we were on our way to a BCS Bowl, 62-Zip (Bowlin’…) This year, the Owls come into this game alone in 4th place in the league at 2-2, ahead of teams like Pitt, South Florida, UConn, and yes, Cincinnati. However, Temple is coming off of two straight solid losses, to Pitt and Rutgers. The CARDS do have a couple of advantages working in their favor as well. Their last game was on Friday, so that gives them an extra day of preparation, as well as the amount of preparation time Temple lost due to the Hurricane in the northeast. Louisville should be ready for anything they have to throw at them.

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At the end of each section, I rate the advantage or disadvantage on a 5 point scale. -2, -1, Even, +1, or +2. 2 point advantages are reserved for very big advantages or disadvantages. Let’s begin.

  1. Offensive Line Play – This is one of the highlights of the Temple Owls. They do a good job of controlling the Offensive Line, and allowing the run game to develop. On the season, the Owls have allowed 15 sacks, respectable, but mainly because they are a run first/always kind of team. They rank 65th nationally in rushing yards per game, 9 spots ahead of our rushing attack. However, the majority of their pretty running numbers can be attributed to a 300+ yard game against Villanova, and a 216 and 202 yard rushing game against USF and UCONN, respectively. They have looked less than impressive in some of their other games. Louisville’s O-Line has been playing very well this season as well. The CARDS have one 200+ yard rushing game, vs. Kentucky. They do a good job of protecting Teddy Bridgewater as well, giving up 16 sacks through one more game than Temple. So, who wins the Battle of the Offensive Lines? I think Louisville wins this one, but I’ll make it a split for now. EVEN
  2. The Run Game – Like I said, Temple can run the ball. Former Boston College running back and Temple starter, Montel Harris, averages 107 yards per game. He leads the nation in 100+ yards games in his career. Temple's second leading rusher is their QB, Chris Coyer. He is a solid runner as well, but there are concerns when your 2nd leading rusher is your QB. Are these two comparable to the rushing attack of Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright? Maybe, but I think if the rushing yards are close in this game, that is a very bad sign for the Owls. I see the CARDS having a big day through the air, using the Run to open up the Pass. I don’t think Temple passes for a whole lot of yards in this one, so if they can’t beat us on the ground, they very likely won’t beat us at all. CARDS +1
  3. Special Teams – Kicker/Punter Brandon McManus has missed 3 kicks on the year, one of which was blocked. Those misses include a 22, 23, and 48 yarder. He also has a 45 yard per punt average, which is a school record at this point. He has also kicked 23 of his 34 kickoffs for touchbacks on the season, which is much better than our kickoff to touchback ratio at 4 out of 50. Our field goal kicker does have a slight advantage, only missing one kick, a 57 yarder and coming off of a game winning kick against Cincinnati in Overtime. In the return game, they don’t have a lot of explosive players, but they have had a couple of bright spots over their season. Matt Brown has returned one Kick Off for 77 yards but couldn’t get it to the house. He has also returned a punt for 45 yards, the long of the year. Still, as far a special teams go, as long as we can cover the Kick Off, I think it’s about as even a category as we have here. EVEN
  4. Impact of "New" Players – Well, looks like rain again. Really? That's nothing new. Thanks a lot. I blame Mike and Kristin Walls. The biggest “New” player in this game will be the number ten next to our name on the ABC Television screen this Saturday. How will these youngins handle the hype of being in the top ten in the BCS? Are Strong’s group of leaders experienced enough to keep these underclassmen focused enough to get the desired results? These questions will be answered Saturday. Temple was picked to finish last in the Big East at the beginning of the season, but has beaten USF and UCONN. If the CARDS overlook Temple, this could be a much closer game than people think. However, another newcomer is affecting this game, and that newcomers name is Sandy. Hurricane Sandy shut down a lot of the plans over the course of the early part of the week for much of the northeast. Temple is at a bit of a disadvantage being that they may not be as well prepared as they would be had they had a full, uninterrupted week to prepare. However, the coaches and fan base could use this as fire to the fuel for this team. Look for them to be playing not only for their season, but for the northeast as well. CARDS +1
  5. Coaching – As has been reported many times already, Steve Addazio and Coach Charlie Strong coached together while at Florida between 2005-09. A few other coordinators also coached together like Bedford and Temple DC Heater. Addazio had a record of 9-4 last year and is 3-4 this year. They do know how to win, but have never beaten a top 10 ranked team. The CARDS do win a lot. They have shown this all season. Three straight winning seasons, and 8-0 so far this season. But even bigger, they know how not to lose. A lot of that comes down to coaching. The CARDS coaches are young, but in their third year, have found some things that work and some that don’t. They are still learning, but are making good enough decisions to win games. Strong does believe in running the ball and grinding out wins. However, I think with the defensive secondary that Temple presents, TD and Watson could have a big big day. I’m talking a really impressive day. Just don’t rain too much. Please. While we have seen some trains go off track in Louisville this week, I expect to see the Charlie Strong X-press stay the course and keep on rolling. They should be ready for anything Temple will throw (or really, run) at them. CARDS +1
  6. Depth – The main number you need to know here is 20. Temple has played 20 first time starters this season. That makes this the 3rd youngest team in college football. They are only behind Hawai’i at 26 and Air Force at 21. Louisville has a very big advantage here. The CARDS are very deep at just about every position. I expect the CARDS to pull away in this game, mainly because the Owls just don’t have enough players to plug and play. “HOOO” will step in and fill those holes? Not enough players to win the battle of depth. CARDS +2
  7. Defensive Pressure – If we can keep everyone healthy, we are looking at what could be a good game for the CARDS D. Temple doesn’t throw the ball a whole lot, but when they do throw, their QB is among the worst in the Big East. I am looking for our first “Country Sack.” That’s right, I'm talking to you, Brooks and Dunn, to combine on a sack in this game. Also, Marcus Smith should have the ability to get to the QB once or twice. But don’t expect the CARDS to blitz too often. They will likely stack the box and plug the gaps in preparation for the run. They average about 21 passes per game versus about 42 rushes per game. The Temple Defense has been able to get to the QB pretty effectively this season, tallying 18 sacks on the year. I can see a couple of missed assignments causing a couple sacks, but again, don’t expect it to get Teddy out of his groove. This game should propel TD back into the Heisman talk if the offense plays its cards right. Their secondary is a very relaxed one, which means go in for the kill for the surgeon, Bridgewater. CARDS+1
  8. Expectations – Expectations are high for the CARDS. “National” television, target on their back, number 10 next to the name. This game will show how far this team could go this year. If we see a game like we saw in ’06, we can start believing that it could happen. If we again look moderately unimpressive, expect that to be our calling card the remainder of the year. I like our group of leaders to keep the underclassmen focused and to lead them to another victory. Temple has won three games on the season. Because they are only playing 11 games this year, this game becomes very important to them. If they could beat us, that puts them just two wins away from another bowl game with winnable games against Syracuse and Army still on the schedule. It could happen. But they would have to beat a team that has them overmatched at just about every position and in just about every statistical category. With the interrupted week, & the disadvantages in talent, the UofL gets the edge here. CARDS+1
  9. Position Edges – Teddy is better than Munchie and Coyer combined. I will give them a slight edge in the run game, kind of. I don’t really believe that, but we will watch it unfold on Saturday. Our Wide Outs are loaded, and theirs are good at best, perhaps underutilized. Our D-Line will look to contain and stop the run. Theirs will try to affect TD, but it shouldn’t be too big an issue. The CARDS O-Line has been good all season so far. Our Secondary and theirs are somewhat on the same level, but ours should look better in this one with more big plays. Special teams is about even. That being said, the CARDS Just look like the better team. CARDS +1 Really Munchie?
  10. Offensive Improvement – The CARDS offense has had a few good looking games, but really tends to shin in the last two minutes of the game. So long as the weather holds off, I think this is the week that we see the offense look good for an entire game. We should but up 5-6 TD’s in this one, running a style of football that resembles a bit of the two minute drill. We have shown that we can score quickly, or run the clock and the ball. When you have a QB that completes 70%+ of his passes, why not toss it around. He is confident. Temple has struggled at times to put up points against quality opponents. They have averaged just under 13 points in their last three games, two of which were losses. They will really need to up their offense if they expect to have a legitimate shot at a W on Saturday. I see them scoring more than 13, but not being in it late. CARDS +1

As of Thursday night, the spread sits with the CARDS favored by 16. This is a lofty spread for a team that is probably on upset alert on someone’s weekend watch somewhere, but 16 points sounds about right here. I have the CARDS according to the stats at a 9 point advantage. On paper, it looks like you could certainly take the Owls and the points. But my heart tells me otherwise. I like the CARDS to go up 14 before Temple gets on the board with a field goal. The CARDS Score a couple more times, making it a 24-10 halftime score. After halftime, the Owls get tired, and the advantage goes to Louisville. The CARDS get a few more Touchdowns and while Temple only manages ten more points. Get this, one of those second half touchdowns for the CARDS is not scored by the offense. Just saying, watch for it. I like the CARDS to move to 9-0 for the first time in school history, and to defeat the Owls in a good looking game from both sides of the ball. The Temple is Doomed! With the Keg of Nails in hand, the CARDS win and will be undefeated 3/4ths of the way through the season! OSM Pick: 45-20

Note: I will be there this Saturday wearing a Red Anthony Conner Jersey, red long sleeves, red gloves, and Nylon Red UofL issued Sweatpants. Oh yeah, and a custom CCBM. Watch for me in the Crunch Zone standing on the rails leading the CARDS Cheer. If you watch, you will see it, especially early on in the game. I cannot wait to get to Saturday! This could be a very big weekend in UofL Football! See you Saturday! The Temple is Doomed!

Beat Kentucky!!! Then Beat the Bears!!! Then Beat the Tar Heels!!! Then Beat FIU!!! Then Beat Southern Miss!!! Then Beat PITT!!! Then Beat USF!!! Then Beat Cincinnati!!!

Then Beat Temple!!! Go CARDS!!!

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