There wasn't much that new Temple Owls coach Steve Addazio could do wrong last night. Realizing that his OL was significantly bigger that that of Villanova, Addazio let Bernard Pierce run wild on the Wildcats 3-3-5 defense. 'Nova wasn't helped by the fact that they were starting a bunch of new faces on defense (and in fairness they had some nice plays) but this was clearly men against boys.
When Pierce wasn't sprinting through holes that a truck could have fit through, Mike Gerardi utilized the play-action to perfection, finishing the night going 14-20 for 235 yards and 2 phenomenal touchdown passes (to Deon Miller and Rod Streater).
More on a not-so-sweet opening night after The Jump.
If you're a rational fan, and lord knows most of us are not that, you knew that Villanova wasn't going to win last night unless they had a perfect game. On the other hand, nobody saw that kind of drubbing coming. With Andy Talley losing so much talent to graduation last year, you can already tell this year will be different than the past few in terms of success.
Let's remember that Temple is an FBS opponent - and by all accounts they're going to be much better than people realize. But the CAA is known as the SEC of the FCS for a reason. Villanova was picked 7th in the conference this year, yet 14th nationally. That tells you all you need to know. Things are not going to get any easier.
Villanova isn't going to see an offense that crisp or talented every week. Yes, the defense got manhandled, but I thought the 3 men up front (Keenan Malone, Antoine Lewis & Rakim Cox) did a pretty solid job of holding up against a massive Temple OL. It was really the LB's who struggled, and when you're replacing all 3 starters, that's not a surprise. But those 3 DL are clearly in for a monster year.
The end-around to Dorian Wells followed by the strike to Dustin Thomas was a thing of beauty. Sam Venuto's offensive play-calling is fun to watch.
The linebackers got abused by the Temple OL. It was very clear that there were 3 new starters out there. They'll need to get better because as good as the DL is, they can't do it all alone.
While Dustin Thomas clearly has talent, the game is moving way too fast for him right now. He forced a lot of throws, and finished with 3 INT's and a lost fumble. He was 11-25 for just 109 yards. He did finish with 59 yards rushing to lead the team, but it came on 17 carries and pretty much all of it was on 1 run late in the game.
The pass coverage was awful, but when you're getting run all over like that, you're going to get killed on play-action. Temple took advantage with an efficient and deadly passing attack.
Pierce tuning us up for 147 yards on 20 carries (7.4 yards/carry). There's no way around that stat. We were manhandled. Oddly enough, Matt Brown (last year's starter) couldn't find an inch of space all night.
Dorian Wells had more passing yards at halftime on 1 throw than Dustin Thomas.
No reason to panic yet, but with a brutal CAA slate ahead, it might be time to curb your expectations a bit. This team will come around (and they'll certainly be very good next year again) but this looks like a bit of a rebuilding year. Villanova will travel to Towson next Saturday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. ET.