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.
Ramaan Ansley, former Engineering and Science star, helped Saint Augustine’s College win 43 Division II All-Atlantic Region awards from the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) this week. The men’s team had the second most all-region honors (26) among NCAA Division II men’s teams and the Lady Falcons earned 17 all-region honors.
The ex-Public League standout participated in the 100 meters and was a member of the 4x100-meter relay team. Ansley runs for legendary track and field head coach George Williams, who brings the Falcons to the Penn Relays each year.
Matt Balasavage signs free agent contract with Baltimore Ravens
Matt Balasavage, Temple tight end, has signed a rookie free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
Balasavage, a three-year starter for the Owls, played in 12 games in 2011 with nine starts. He received his degree in communications in May 2011. He joins NFL draftees running back Bernard Pierce (Baltimore Ravens), tight end Evan Rodriguez (Chicago Bears) and linebacker Tahir Whitehead (Detroit Lions) as well as rookie free agents offensive lineman Pat Boyle (Detroit Lions), defensive end Morkeith Brown (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), offensive lineman Derek Dennis (Miami Dolphins), linebacker Stephen Johnson (New Orleans Saints), defensive end Adrian Robinson (Pittsburgh Steelers) wide receiver Rod Streater (Oakland Raiders) and offensive lineman Wayne Tribue (Denver Broncos).
Chester Stewart signs free agent contract with Ravens
Quarterback Chester Stewart became the 12th Temple Owl to sign with an NFL team this spring, extending the school record for the largest class.
Stewart signed a rookie contract with Baltimore Ravens, joining former Owl teammate running back Bernard Pierce and Matt Balasavage on the Ravens’ roster. Stewart played in 10 games with six starts as a senior in 2011. He was named the Baltimore Sun/Next Level Player of the Week following a perfect 9-of-9 for 140 yards in the win at Maryland. Stewart earned his degree in criminal justice in December 2011.
NLBM, Rawlings pair up for “Gold Glove” Negro Leagues tribute
Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., a subsidiary of Jarden Corporation and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) have teamed to honor the Negro Leagues by bestowing commemorative Rawlings Gold Glove Awards to the league’s best defensive players of all time. The partnership includes a series of events planned to raise awareness and financial support for the NLBM, a not-for-profit organization located in Kansas City, Mo.
A panel comprised of six baseball dignitaries will select candidates for consideration for each of the nine Rawlings Gold Glove Award positions. The selection panel members include: Phil Dixon, baseball historian and author; Monte Irvin, Negro Leagues legend and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee; Bob Kendrick, NLBM president; Joe Posnanski, senior writer for USA Today Sports Group and MLBAM; Dr. Layton Revel, Center for Negro Leagues research; James Riley, baseball historian and author.
The Negro League Rawlings Gold Glove Award team will be unveiled at the NLBM on June 28. The dynamic double play tandem of Frank White (eight Rawlings Gold Glove Awards) and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith (13 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards) will host the ceremonies.
The Temple Owls were well represented in the NFL draft last week. Bernard Pierce, Temple’s All-American running back, was selected in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens. Pierce, former Glen Mills standout from Ardmore, was the 84th pick overall in the draft.
He is the 62nd Temple football player chosen in the NFL draft since 1937. Pierce is the first Temple player to be picked by the Ravens (since 1996) in school history and the fourth Owl to be selected by a Baltimore NFL team, joining Colts’ selections defensive back Anthony Young (1985), running back Mark Bright (1980) and quarterback Steve Joachim (1975).
As a junior, Pierce became the Owls’ all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (53), total touchdowns (54), and points scored (324). He also set the season records for rushing TDs (27), total TDs (27), points scored (162), and 100-yard rushing games (9), while setting game records for rushing TDs in a game (five at Maryland) and points scored (30 at Maryland). He was also named ECAC Offensive Player of the Year and the 2009 MAC Freshman of the Year.
The Chicago Bears selected Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez with the 16th pick of the fourth round (111th pick overall), while the Detroit Lions chose linebacker Tahir Whitehead with the third pick of the fifth round (138th overall) of the draft. That brings the total to three players drafted from Temple.
Rodriguez, who played in the East–West Shrine Game, is a two-time first-team All-MAC selection. He played in all 13 games with 12 starts at tight end. He led the Owls with 479 yards and two touchdowns on 35 receptions.
Whitehead was a second-team All-MAC selection, and the defensive MVP of the New Mexico Bowl. He finished third in team tackling with 70 tackles, a team-best 13.5 tackles-for-loss of 66 yards, five sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Seven Temple players have signed rookie free agent contracts with NFL teams, bringing the Owls total NFL signees to 10, tying the largest class in school history. The players who have reportedly signed: Pat Boyle, offensive lineman, Detroit Lions; Morkeith Brown, defensive end, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Derek Dennis, offensive lineman, Miami Dolphins; Stephen Johnson, linebacker, New Orleans Saints; Adrian Robinson, defensive end, Pittsburgh Steelers; Rod Streater, wide receiver, Oakland Raiders and Wayne Tribue, offensive lineman, Denver Broncos.
When Tahir Whitehead, Temple’s senior linebacker, found out the Owls had accepted an invitation to play in the New Mexico Bowl, he was really excited about the opportunity to play in the postseason. Temple (8-4) will face Wyoming (8-4) in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Saturday, December 17 at University Stadium. The kickoff will be at 2 p.m.
A year ago, Temple didn’t get a chance to play in a bowl game. But the Owls were able to make their second bowl appearance in three years. Whitehead, a 6-foot-2, 228-pounder, would like to finish his college career on a winning note.
“Coach (Steve Addazio) said we could be the winningest class in Temple history,” Whitehead said. “We’re striving to hit that goal with the right focus in this bowl game. Obviously, we want to play it like it’s our championship (game) since we missed out this year on it.
“We have to get back to the basics. We have to use the fundamentals that you use throughout the year. We’re practicing our fundamentals, because it’s going to be a fundamental game where the team that possesses the most fundamentals will come out on top.”
Whitehead used the basic skills to put together a great season. He was all over the field. He was one of the Owls best playmakers. Whitehead had 59 total and 40 solo tackles. He also had five sacks and three fumble recoveries. His efforts played a big role in helping Temple conclude the regular season with a three-game winning streak. The Owls defeated Miami (Ohio) (24-21), Army (42-14) and Kent State (34-16) respectively.
“I heard that gave us the opportunity to be in a bowl game this year being as though we finished so strong,” Whitehead said. “We want to come out and win this game and finish the season 9-4, which would be the best record that we’ve had in a while here. So, that’s the goal.”
This is the Owls fourth trip overall to a bowl game. Temple has played in the inaugural Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1935 (against Tulane); the 1979 Garden State Bowl (against California) and the 2009 EagleBank Bowl (against UCLA).
Steve Addazio, Temple’s first-year head coach, will be making his first bowl appearance as the Owls head coach. Addazio feels this is a terrific accomplishment for the Temple football program.
“I think this is great,” Addazio said. “I want to get out there. I think it’s awful cool to kick the bowl season off and play the game on the (December) 17th and let it be the first bowl. People are excited to see the bowl game. It’s on national TV. We’ll get a chance to go out and play in a whole new bowl venue and play a great Wyoming team. I’m really thrilled about that.”