Owls turn to true freshman in hopes of gaining first win

Walker
Walker
Posted: October 11, 2013

TEMPLE (0-5, 0-2 American Athletic Conference), one of seven winless FBS teams, has trailed in four games at halftime. But the Owls - who are 119th in points scored, at 15.8 per - have won the second half three times. They've also won the fourth quarter this season, 38-26.

Tonight at Cincinnati (3-2, 0-1), they'll give a true freshman quarterback his first start. P.J. Walker, who played the final three quarters in a 30-7 home loss to top 10 Louisville last weekend, will be their third starting QB this season. And sixth in the last 2 1/2 years.

"He'll make mistakes along the way," acknowledged first-year coach Matt Rhule, who has changed much of the depth chart since the opener at Notre Dame, to the point at which it's one of the youngest in the nation. "We can live with that a little bit. We know what it's going to be.

"We think he'll make enough plays, too."

Hopefully, even a few in those opening 30 minutes.

"Don't wait until the pressure's off," Rhule said. "Go play from the very beginning. Don't let the moment be too big for us.

"It's not easy, I'm not going to lie to you. If I hadn't been through it once before here [as one of then-caoch Al Golden's assistants], it would probably be a lot more [frustrating]. They feel like if they could go back and start the year over they wouldn't be 0-5. But they can't."

Nobody expected them to lose to Fordham or Idaho. And Houston is still unbeaten. The oddsmakers have made the Bearcats a three-touchown favorite.

Temple at Cincinnati

8:30 tonight Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati

TV: ESPN. Radio: WPHT (1210-AM)

Records: Temple 0-5, 0-2 American Athletic Conference; Cincinnati 3-2, 0-1

History: Temple leads, 9-5-1. Cincy won here last year, 34-10.

About Temple: Owls lost at home to nationally-ranked Louisville, 30-7. It was 24-0 at halftime... True freshman P.J. Walker starts at QB for the first time. He played the last 3 quarters last week. It's their third starting QB this year, sixth in the last 2 seasons... The depth chart is loaded with freshmen and sophomores... They've had problems in the first halves and with giving up big plays.

About Cincinnati: The Bearcats and first-year coach Tommy Tubberville lost last week at previously winless South Florida, 26-20, a game in which their defense didn't give up a TD. It was their first game since the death of freshman o-lineman Ben Flick in a Sept. 21 car crash. Two other players were hurt in that accident, and one remained hospitalized in stable condition...QB Brendon Kay, who took over when Munchie Legaux suffered a knee injury early, has thrown seven TDs and four picks.

Last October, a two-loss Villanova team went to Old Dominion to play the third-ranked, unbeaten Monarchs. The Wildcats trailed by 14 in the first quarter. They scored the final 38 points. It proved to be the game that got them back into the playoffs following a 1-year absence, after being picked to finish eighth in the Colonial Athletic Association.

On Saturday night, the preseason favorites (3-2, 2-0 CAA), who've won three straight, are at No. 3 Towson (6-0, 2-0). So, can they pull off another difference-making upset?

They had to rally late to beat William & Mary at home last week. And really, just about every game borders on a must, since 8-3 gets you into the postseason, while 7-4 leaves you on the fence. And this is the first of four road trips in a 5-week stretch. The one at home is with Maine, which is 5-1.

"We hadn't won a game like that in a long time," coach Andy Talley said about the comeback. "So it's nice to know we have some kind of character.

"We had some mojo when we went down to ODU, and we ended up blowing them off the field. I don't think that'll happen [again]. But we've been in big games before."

Two weeks after that ODU game, Towson came to the Main Line and won, 49-35. The Tigers haven't lost since.

Villanova at Towson

7 p.m. Saturday

Unitas Stadium, Towson, Md.

TV: NBC Sports Network. Radio: CBS Sports Radio (610-AM)

Records: Villanova 3-2, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association; Towson 6-0, 2-0

History: Villanova leads, 5-4. Towson won last year on Main Line, 49-35.

About Villanova: Wildcats, ranked 15th, drove for late TD at home to beat William & Mary, 20-16...They're getting healthier, but WR Joe Price still probably won't play. Good news is WR Jamal Abdur-Rahman and C Ross Hall are back...They've won three straight, by a combined 90-28, all at home...Over past six seasons, they've won 13 times against top-10 opponents, including a big one last year at Old Dominion...As QB John Robertson goes, so usually goes the offense.

About Towson: No. 3 Tigers, who for some reason didn't make playoffs last year, have won 10 straight...They beat New Hampshire last week at home, 44-28...Opened with 15-point win at Connecticut ...RB Terrance West, the national Freshman of the Year in 2011, has rushed for 648 yards (5.1 a carry) and 12 TDs...Peter Athens has thrown for 689 and six scores, with four picks.

The Quakers (2-1, 1-0 Ivy) just survived the longest game in their league's history. As a reward, they get to play their second road game in 3 weeks against a CAA team. First, it was a 35-6 loss at Villanova. Now it's off to William & Mary (3-2), which narrowly lost on the Main Line last week.

"It's not good for your cardio, that's for sure," said Quakers coach Al Bagnoli, whose team outlasted Dartmouth in four overtimes. "It seems like we finished 36 hours ago. It felt like we played into Sunday. It went 4 hours, and it wasn't on TV. We count our blessings, but you're emotionally and physically spent. A one-overtime game is stressful enough.

"So we're dealing with a lot of residual issues. And I'm sure [William & Mary] isn't going to be in good spirits. We have to decide how much to play our kids. Some of them went 90 snaps. So there's going to be a lot of game-management stuff to overcome. This is one time that 5-hour bus ride will actually help me figure it out."

Practices have been shortened. And the university just started fall break, which meant no classes yesterday or today. "So kids can sleep in," Bagnoli noted. The bad news is it's midterm time, so there are test schedules to work around. That's why they're called student-athletes.

Fifth-year running back Brandon Colavita is out with a knee injury, but that's one area where Penn has depth. The formerly seldom-used Kyle Wilcox became the OT star, thanks to injuries. After this, the Quakers can get back solely to defending their title, and trying to become the first Ivy team to win four outright championships in a 5-year span.

Penn at William & Mary

3:30 Saturday

Zable Stadium Williamsburg, Va.

TV: None. Radio: WFIL (560-AM)

Records: Penn 2-1; William & Mary 3-2

History: William & Mary leads, 5-1. Tribe won last year here, 34-28.

About Penn: Quakers opened Ivy season with a 37-31 home win over Dartmouth in four OTs, longest game in league history...This is their second trip to Williamsburg, first since 1995...Third-string junior Kyle Wilcox came off bench because of injuries last week and ran for almost 100 yards on 18 carries, including the winning 20-yarder...Penn has not been 3-1 since 2009...It hasn't beaten a CAA team since 1997...The Quakers have lost three straight on road out of conference.

About William & Mary: The Tribe lost at Villanova late, 20-16, last week. Wildcats beat Penn at home week before, 35-6...W&M's other loss was to West Virginia by a TD... Beat Lafayette by 28 on road. Penn beat Leopards by 6 at home... Mikal Abdul-Saboor has rushed for 400 yards (5.2 a carry)...QB Michael Graham left in the second quarter against VU with concussion symptons... Tre McBride is fourth in the FCS in kickoff returns (36.0 average).

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