When Temple and Villanova clash tonight in the Mayor’s Cup, Steve Addazio, Owls head coach, is expecting a big game from the Wildcats in this local matchup at Lincoln Financial Field. Addazio feels the Wildcats bring a lot of experience into this contest, which will begin at 7 p.m.
“We’re playing a Villanova team that obviously, last year, was a very inexperienced team,” Addazio said. “Now, they return eight starters on offense and 10 on defense. That’s a team coming back with all their guys. They got No. 8 Norman White who is an outstanding receiver. He’s a pro talent. He’s a big guy. He can go up and catch the ball and make plays on you. He’s a real threat.
“Chris Polony is their quarterback. He’s a guy who gets them in the right place. He brings consistency to their offense. He gets the ball to Norman White and players that can make plays. Austin Medley is their running back. He really came on at the end of last year. He’s a talented guy. They got a better offensive line coming back.
“On defense, Ronnie Akins is their safety. Their nose guard Antoine Lewis and their linebacker Dillon Lucas and Devon Bridges is a linebacker who runs like heck to the ball. I’m impressed with them.”
A year ago, Temple handled Villanova very easily, 42-7. The Wildcats did struggle with a lot of youth and inexperience last year. They finished the season with a 2-9 overall record. Villanova should be one of the top teams in the CAA this season, which happens to be one of the best FCS conferences in the nation.
Temple is coming off a 9-4 overall and a 5-3 record in the MAC (second East) in Addazio’s first year. In addition, Temple defeated Wyoming, 37-15, to win the New Mexico Bowl last season.
The Owls will miss running back Bernard Pierce who is a rookie for the Baltimore Ravens. Pierce surpassed Paul Palmer to end his collegiate career as the school’s all-time scoring leader with 324 points. Pierce also had 273 carries for 1,481 yards and 27 touchdowns. Temple will have to replace him. It looks as if they will use two running backs to bolster that ground attack with Matt Brown and Montel Harris.
Harris transferred to Temple for his fifth and final season of eligibility. He received his degree in communications from Boston College. The ACC’s all-time career rusher (3,735 yards), Harris leads all returning BCS players in career rushing yards.
Brown played extremely well last season. He had 916 yards and six touchdowns on 155 carries. Brown has been named to the All-Purpose Trophy Watch List. The 5-foot-5 running back handles kickoff and punt returns.
Offensively, the Owls will be led by junior quarterback Chris Coyer, who was named the Offensive MVP of the New Mexico Bowl completing 8-of-12 passes for 169 yards and rushed for 71 yards in the team’s victory. Temple also has junior signal caller Clinton “Juice” Granger from George Washington High. Granger provides the Owls with plenty of depth at quarterback.
This marks the 33rd meeting between the Owls and the Wildcats since 1908, renewing a 102-year old cross-town rivalry. The game is the last in a series of four Mayor’s Cup games. The Wildcats hold a 16-14-2 series advantage.
NOTES: Temple’s 2012 class of signees — three draftees in running back Bernard Pierce, tight end Evan Rodriguez and linebacker Tahir Whitehead and nine rookie free agents — set the school record for the largest NFL signing with 12 players.