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.
The Mayor’s Cup featuring Temple and Villanova is certainly a big game for local college football fans. It’s also a big game for local college football players. Temple safety Daquan Cooper is one of them. Cooper, a former George Washington High star, will have a lot of family and friends coming to Lincoln Financial Field on Friday, Aug. 31, when the Owls and the Wildcats kickoff the 2012 season at 7 p.m.
“It’s a great game,” Cooper said. “When I first got here, that was actually the first game I went to at Temple. It was mind blowing. Of course, we won. It was an amazing game altogether. We have a good family here at Temple. We really work together. I’m really excited about the game. I have a lot of family from Mount Airy who will be coming down. ”
Cooper, a 6-foot, 175-pound sophomore, was a terrific player in high school. He was an All-Public League standout as a wide receiver and defensive back. Cooper was one of the top multi-talented players in the city. He actually made his college football debut during the Mayor’s Cup in Temple’s victory over Villanova.
As a freshman, Cooper gained some quality experience. He played on the kickoff and punting teams. He got a chance to play in the secondary as well. Cooper’s most impressive performance was in a win over Maryland where he had four tackles. He’s expected to receive playing time on the special teams and at safety again this year.
“I really like playing safety,” Cooper said. “I like it better than any other position I played before. Of course, I miss playing offense. I’m a defensive player at heart. I’m just working on getting my feet better and working on my keys. I’m working as hard as I can at the position.”
Cooper is very comfortable playing for the Owls. He’s in a good situation. He has a lot of teammates from George Washington High who are on the Temple team like quarterback Clinton “Juice” Granger, linebacker Brandon Chudnoff and defensive back Nate L. Smith, who starred at George Washington and Archbishop Wood.
“I really like Temple,” he said. “I think I have a greater appreciation because I’m from the city. It’s Philly. I love it here. I hope more G-W guys come to Temple.”
Cooper enjoys playing at Lincoln Financial Field. He played in the City All-Star Game at the Linc. That’s where he got a good taste of being in a big time stadium.
“I love the Linc especially since the Eagles play there,” he said. “It’s a great feeling just knowing that you’re playing on the same grass as the NFL players and you’re family comes to watch you and gets you ready for the next level.”
After the Villanova game, Temple has two non-conference games against Maryland (Sept. 8) at home and Penn State (Sept. 22) on the road respectively. The next level for the Owls will be the competition in the Big East. Temple will open its conference schedule at home against South Florida on Oct. 6.Cooper is looking forward to playing in the Big East.
“It’s a great move for us,” he said. “We’ve been working hard. I’m glad we’re in the Big East. It’s nothing but up from here.”
Temple finished the 2011 season with a 9-4 overall and 5-3 record in the Mid-American Conference East Division under head coach Steve Addazio. Temple has played in two bowl games in the last three years. Last season, the Owls won the New Mexico Bowl defeating Wyoming, 37-15.
Spring practice is a time when college football players get a chance to get in shape and prepare for the upcoming season. Temple held its annual Cherry & White Game at Lincoln Financial Field last Saturday and backup quarterback Clinton “Juice” Granger had an opportunity to showcase his talents.
Granger, former George Washington High star, completed 14-of-20 passes for 125 yards and one interception. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, displayed some good mobility in the pocket and did a nice job of throwing on the run as the Cherry nipped the White, 17-10. Granger feels pretty good about what he’s been able to do this spring.
“I was able to get a knowledge of the plays,” Granger said. “They put a lot in and I wanted to master the plays. I just wanted to learn the playbook. I feel good about my ability just knowing what I have to do.”
Chris Coyer is the Owls starting quarterback. Coyer helped Temple finish with a 9-4 overall and 5-3 record in MAC play following a 37-15 win over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl. The ex-Public League standout gives the Owls good depth at quarterback.
Granger displayed flashes of his playing days at George Washington High in the spring game. He was a big time player in the Public League. He led GW to the 2007 league championship.
“My game has grown a lot,” Granger said. “I’m more mature. I know the position more. I’m studying film more. The game is slowing down for me. It’s a growing process.”
After his scholastic career, he played at Pierce College, a junior college in Los Angeles. In 2010, he threw for 1,176 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 200 yards and tallying five TDs in seven games.
Granger is one of three players from GW on the Temple football roster. The others include wide receiver Daquan Cooper and linebacker Brandon Chudnoff. They all played for head coach Ron Cohen.
“It feels good,” Granger said. “It feels like I’m home with all these guys. I had family, friends and coaches. It’s a good atmosphere. It’s good to be back in Philly.”
Granger isn’t the only GW quarterback playing college football. Aaron Wilmer is a major star at QB for Delaware Valley College. Wilmer led GW to the 2008 Public and city championship.
“He had a big year,” Granger said. “He had an explosive, exciting year. It was something that I knew he was capable of doing. When I actually signed with Temple, he gave me a call. That was good because he supports me and I support him.”
Temple will be playing in the Big East Conference this season. The Owls will open the season with cross-town rival Villanova in the fourth annual Mayor’s Cup on Aug. 31 at Lincoln Financial Field.
When Penn State hosts Temple on Saturday, Sept. 22 from Beaver Stadium in University Park at 3:35 p.m. (ABC/ESPN2) there will be plenty of interest from the fans in the Philadelphia area. Both schools have local players.
Penn State has defensive end Deion Barnes who happens to be one of the best players to come out of the Public League in the last three years. He will have a lot of family and friends watching the game on television. Barnes, former Northeast High star, has been a real bright spot for the Nittany Lions (1-2).
“Temple (1-1) has a good team from what I’ve seen on tape,” Barnes said. “I’m excited to play them. I’m excited to get after it. I’m excited to play every game. I’m looking forward to it.
“I think coming from Philly I know mostly about what Temple has to offer. I know Coop (Daquan Cooper, Temple safety) and I worked out with Juice (Clinton Granger, Temple quarterback) one time. I know a few of them.”
The 6-foot-4, 246-pound freshman, has seven total and five solo tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles this season. He has been one of Penn State’s most consistent players over the first three games.
He was named Co-Freshman of the Week in the Big Ten Conference. Barnes made a season-high five tackles (three solo), including his third sack of the season against Navy last Saturday. The ex-Public League standout forced his second fumble of the year on a sack in the Nittany Lions’ 34-7 victory over the Midshipmen. Barnes is tied for second in the Big Ten with three sacks and tied for No. 1 in the league with two forced fumbles.
“I just didn’t want to be on the field,” said Barnes, who redshirted last year. “I wanted to make plays. I watched film from last year. I still have a lot of things I’ve got to fix. I just have to get out there and get after it.”
The widely publicized child sexual abuse scandal that hit Penn State had a big impact on the school and the football program. There were several players who transferred after the school was hit with major NCAA infractions. However, Barnes decided to remain in Happy Valley and play for new head coach Bill O’Brien.
“It was a tough situation, but I believe I made the right choice,” Barnes said. “When the scandal went down, I went home and talked to my mom and dad. We all agreed on staying. My mom and dad came to the Ohio and the Navy games. They love it up here.”
Barnes grew up in North Philadelphia. He had a marvelous scholastic career at Northeast. In 2010, he led the Vikings to their first league championship since 1983. He had a great senior year completing 85 tackles, 25 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. Barnes used his strength and quickness to dominate on both sides of the ball. He was a major Division I prospect. Barnes has done a great job of carrying the banner for Public League football.
“I still have a lot of work to do,” Barnes said. “This means a lot coming from North Philly. I live near Erie Avenue. I talk to a lot of my teammates from high school just about every day. I tell them I’m doing this for them as well as other people. I try to keep in touch with everybody. This makes me feel good. I get text messages after every game. Like I said, I do this for the kids. I want to show them that they can do this too. ”
Clinton “Juice” Granger, Temple’s senior quarterback, had an impressive performance in the Owls Cherry and White spring football game in a losing effort. Granger, former George Washington High star, completed 26-of-44 passes for 302 yards including three touchdowns and one interception. The White squad defeated the Cherry, 34-28, last Saturday in front of 3,530 fans at Edberg-Olson Hall.
Granger displayed a strong arm in this contest. He hit redshirt freshman wide receiver Nathan Hairston with a 62-yard TD pass. Hairston had six receptions for 132 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver Romond Deloatch was the game’s leading receiver. Deloatch had 13 receptions for 87 yards and a 16-yard score.
Granger wasn’t the only standout in the spring game. Senior Chris Coyer had two touchdown catches from junior quarterback Connor Reilly to help the White squad. Reilly completed 25-of-41 passes for 366 yards and four TDs. Junior running back Kenny Harper had a two-yard touchdown run. Harper was also the leading rusher for the White squad.
On the defensive side, redshirt freshman linebacker Haason Reddick was the top defensive player for the White. Reddick had eight tackles and two breakups. Senior linebacker Olaniyi Adewole had five total and four solo tackles.
For Cherry, sophomore running back Jamie Gilmore led the rushing efforts with eight carries for 25 yards. Sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich led all defensive players with nine solo tackles and a break-up. Daquan Cooper, a junior defensive back, had six total tackles. Cooper played his scholastic football at George Washington High School. The former Public League standout had a big game in the secondary. Freshman defensive back Jihaad Pretlow had six total tackles.
The Owls will open the season at Notre Dame on August 31. Temple’s home opener is set for Sept. 7 at Lincoln Financial Field with Houston in American Athletic Conference action.