The Formidable Foe segment gives Terrapin fans a chance to hear about their upcoming matchup from a beat writer or blogger of the opposing team. This week, we have TempleFootballForever’s Mike Gibson, an award winning journalist and Temple blogger. He can be reached here , and check out his website www.templefootballforever.blogspot.com
TerrapinStationMD: Who is one player that is indispensable for Temple this week? A guy that makes Temple struggle if he struggles.
Gibson: Kicker Brandon McManus. If he’s not the best placekicker and punter in the nation, I don’t know who is. He’s [sic] punting gives Temple a huge field position average and he’s a dynamite field goal kicker. This week, he kicked a 70-yarder in practice, the second in two months. On kickoffs, the ball regularly sails over the back end of the end zone. He’s absolutely indispensable.
TS: Last year, Bernard Pierce shredded the Terps for 149 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. How good is Matt Brown, how healthy is Montel Harris, and can the Owls manage a repeat performance against a better Maryland defense?
Gibson: Matt Brown is very, very good. Brown, not Pierce, was Temple’s No. 1 all-purpose runner last year. Brown had to step in and start 6 games due to Pierce injuries over the last couple of years and he had over 100 yards in all of them. Against Army, Brown had 226 and four touchdowns two years ago in a 42-28 win. Harris is healthy and ready to go. We haven’t seen the Harris who scored five touchdowns and had 252 yards in a 52-28 win over North Carolina State (for Boston College), though. Harris has said he’s better now than then. We’ll see. Both are slashers, who will get you 8-10-12-15 yards more regularly than Pierce, who was a home run hitter, who would go for 1-2 and then 70.
TS: Chris Coyer: Is he a runner, a passer, or both? Can he do the same things he did against Villanova on the ground against Maryland? I know earlier in the week coach Addazio said he would like to throw more.
Gibson: Coyer can do both. I compare him very favorably to the Tim Tebow at Florida (not the one you see in the pros). Both are big, both are left-handed, both can run. Coyer is 5-0 as a Temple starting QB and would have been 6-0 had not Chester Stewart played the first quarter of a game last year at Ohio. Subbing for Stewart, Coyer put up 31 points on three perfectly thrown touchdown passes and added 184 yards on the ground. He IS the home run hitter among the Owl running backs. On his first carry last year, Coyer went 80 yards for a touchdown. On his second, he went 68 yards for another score. Temple lost that game, 35-31, but found a QB for the better part of three years.
TS: Temple lost the yardage battle last week, yet the game ended in a rout. How good is Temple’s defense and who is the most important player on that squad?
Gibson: I think the yardage was more of a reflection on the nature of the game. Temple had a 28-10 lead over a team very comparable to William and Mary before you could blink. It’s a very good defense, whose best player is DE John Youboty (11), a tremendous pass rusher. Free safety Vaughn Carraway, rated the No. 3 WR recruit in Pennsylvania when he was a schoolboy senior, had a great spring and summer and capped it off with a 57-yard INT return against Villanova.
TS: Any added pressure now to win a game like this now that you guys are back in the Big East, with expectations being higher and a schedule that is tougher?
Gibson: Yeah, there’s pressure every week because you need at least six wins to be bowl eligible and the Owls know they have to play every game with the toughness they showed in last year’s last-second 14-10 loss to Penn State. The difference in that game was they didn’t have a QB then. They have one now. Heck, they have 3 now.
TS: How does it feel to be the best football team in Pennsylvania? Are you COMPLETELY sure you don’t want to join the ACC instead of Pitt? Please?
Gibson: I won’t feel Temple is the best team in PA until they can beat both Pitt and Penn State. Fortunately, they will have the chance to do both this year and they might be favored in both games. I think Temple’s admin is very satisfied to be in the Big East. In recent years, they beat Villanova two straight years in basketball, beat Georgetown in hoops, beat 2010 BE football champ UConn by two touchdowns. They feel they can compete in both major sports right now, plus they are in the middle of the BE original geographic footprint.
A big thanks to Mike Gibson for the great answers, and be sure to check out his site for postgame Saturday!