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Crossing Enemy Lines: Villanova vs. Temple

To get ready for The Mayor's Cup on Friday Night, Dave Gerson from The Owl's Nest and I decided to get together for a quick Q&A session. Below are my questions for Dave on what we can expect from this year's Temple Owls, and what The Mayor's Cup means to the Temple program/fanbase.

Make sure to head on over to The Owl's Nest to see my answers to Dave's questions, and leave him some friendly (or not-so-friendly, I'm fine with that too!) banter about this Friday's curtain-raiser to the 2010 season!

Enjoy!

1. What's the barometer for Temple football this year? You went to a bowl game last year, which had to be incredibly exciting. Are expectations raised this year or would you be happy bowling in December again?

 

Last year was the most success I've seen in my lifetime. The last four years we (Temple fans) have waited for this breakout season, and now we're seeing the results of an established football program. The experience of a nine-game winning streak, winning record itself, and a bowl game was something relatively new, but was fun to be a part of.

2010 is a whole new season. For the first time I think there are expectations for this team to win, and I'm hoping that we start this year off much better than in '09.

We expect this team no longer to just compete, but to win games. There are serious talks about a shot at a 10-win season, a Mid-American Conference Championship, and more. It's one game at a time though, so we expect to beat you guys.
More Q&A after The Jump...
2. What's the deal with Bernard PierceI saw he was demoted to 2nd string, which came as a complete shock to me. What's the story here?

Late into training camp, Bernard Pierce collided hard with defensive back Justin Gildea that gave Pierce an EXTREMELY minor head injury. The coaches decided to play it safe, as they do with almost every player, by keeping him out of a few scrimmages. During that down time, backup Matt Brown had taken nearly every carry with the first-team offense.

In the event that B.P. wouldn't play, Brown would be the top guy. That luckily isn't the case, as Pierce is now good to go for September 3rd. His missed time was simply precaution.

If you look at the depth chart, this isn't uncommon for Coach Golden to do. There are several starters (OG Colin Madison, LB Elijah "Peanut" Joseph) who are listed as backups along with Pierce. This is merely a motivational tactic that coach has done to almost every player on this team. Pierce missed some important time with the starters, and wanted to light a fire under him to work hard upon returning from his injury.

3. Last year we saw Vaughn Charlton at QB, but this year he's a TE with Chester Stewart taking the reigns. Why the switch? And what do you expect from Stewart this year?

From what I was told, Vaughn Charlton was totally up for making the switch to tight-end; so far the transition has gone well, and V.C. has been competing for a starting spot. He's put on some weight, and has done an extremely nice job blocking and receiving through training camp.

Chester Stewart showed in 2009 that he is worthy of the starting position. He excelled in camp this season, and earned the position. I think that this staff believes that there is so much depth and talent at this position that it wouldn't hurt to do this. Backing him up will be Chris Coyer, a highly touted recruit who turned down an offer from Ohio State for TU, as well as Mike Gerardi.

I expect Stewart to improve his accuracy and use his mobility more to his advantage. Chester has an extremely strong arm, and is capable of making big time plays. It's just always been the small things that hurt him: miscommunication has been one of the only setbacks to his game. Temple fans are confident in have an experienced quarterback at the helm.

4. How much does the Mayor's Cup and the rivalry with Villanova mean to the Temple program? I'm sure revenge is on the mind after last year but in the grand scheme of things is it that important? Is it good for the city? Give me your thoughts.

This Mayor's Cup has done a wonderful job bringing out the college football fanbase right here in Philadelphia. Similar to basketball, the teams are trying to establish a tradition/rivalry in this sport, and we saw in 2009 how exciting this will be. Philadelphia is definitely a pro city team, but who would it hurt to start building up a college football following in Philly?

My main focus and hope is that we beat you guys, that's obvious. That's the expectation of any Owl fan. I don't think I'd be wrong when I say that at least 97% of us Temple fans (including myself) underestimated Villanova as merely an FCS school. I do not want this game to be close at any point, and I want to see the effect a prepared and participating Bernard Pierce/Matt Brown will have on the game. Villanova in NO WAY is a bad win.

There are no guaranteed victories, but we want to win the games be believe that we have a good opportunity to do so.

5. Last year Matt Szczur carried 3 times for 5 yards in his worst performance of the season. Since then he's developed into a guy to game-plan around. How does Temple plan on slowing him down?

While Szczur is definitely the most versatile player on this team, I think the Owls will be focusing more on the play of Chris Whitney. The production of this offense is determined by Whitney's decision to air the ball out or to use his legs. The complexity of this offense from the quarterback itself makes it too hard to focus the defense on just one player. There are way too many playmakers on this offense to ignore.

If Temple can contain the quarterback, I believe that will make Szczur's production lower.

6. Give me a prediction for this Friday night at The Linc!

I truly believe that Temple will come out prepared for this game, and will play consistent offense and defense through four quarters. This is no guaranteed victory, like I said before. Turnovers killed the double-digit lead we had last year. Temple wins 31-17.

Many thanks to Dave for putting this together! Good luck with your season, with the exception of Friday night!