November 13, 2012
Tough schedules hamper Army and Temple
In Army's disappointing 2-8 season, the football gods lined up a series of teams enjoying their best record in recent history.
Kent State is 9-1, Rutgers 8-1 (No. 23), San Diego State 8-3 and Ball State 7-3. Yes, there is a loss to a Football Championship Subdivision school, but 9-2 Stony Brook is ranked No. 12 among FCS teams. Army's 10 opponents have a combined record of 63-38 (.623).
Army, though, won't get much sympathy from Temple. The Owls, who were 9-4 with a 37-15 New Mexico Bowl win over Wyoming a year ago, have slipped to 3-6 this season against its own rugged schedule.
The Philadelphia school, which left the Mid-American Conference last year to return to the Big East this year, has losses to 9-1 Louisville, 8-1 Rutgers, 7-2 Cincinnati and 6-4 Penn State. The Owls' nine opponents have a combined record of 52-35 (.597).
But the similarities end there. Army thought it was on the verge of returning to a bowl game in 2012. Second-year Temple coach Steve Addazzio, who was Florida's offensive under former Gators' coach Urban Meyer, says he knew a fourth straight bowl trip would be a difficult to achieve.
"I'm not disappointed in the season we're having," Addazio said. "We took a young football team that had to be reloaded. We lost a lot of guys who are in the NFL now. We're a young team. We knew another challenge this season would be playing up in the Big East. I knew we had challenging times ahead. I'm very pleased with where we are."
Rutgers, now ranked No. 22, is the only common opponent between the schools. The Scarlet Knights were ranked No. 15 and 6-0 before beating the Owls 35-10 in Philadelphia. Rutgers was No. 23 and 8-1 before defeating the Black Knights 28-7 last week in Piscataway, N.J.
"I don't know if I can compare us to what's going on at Army," Addazio said. "But I know this: I think Army has developed and they have a good young football team. I'm looking forward to the challenge of playing the game. I have a great deal of respect for Coach (Ellerson). You just watch his team in action and he's building and they're getting better. He had a young team last year. I'm impressed. I've got a lot of respect for him and the military academy. We know those kids are going to fight and scratch and claw. It's a great challenge for us."
Addazio took note of Army's game-opening drive last week when the Black Knights moved 76 yards in 16 plays for a 7-0 lead. Army finished with 282 yards, which was below its national leading average of 366.1 but above Rutgers' average of 88.5 that ranked fourth in the nation. As has been the case all year for Army, it was three lost fumbles that kept the Black Knights out of the end zone.
Temple rushed for only 119 yards on 42 carries against Rutgers for an average of 2.8 per carry. Former Boston College running back Montel Harris, who leads the nation with 25 career 100-yard games, ran for 81 of those yards on 19 carries. Harris, who left Boston College for team violations, has been battling hamstring and knee injuries as a fifth-year senior. He had only nine carries for 35 yards last week, but Addazio expects him to be ready for Army.
The Black Knights' defensive challenge this week is which quarterback to expect to see. Addazio said he plans to split repetitions between three junior quarterbacks: Chris Coyer (6-3, Clinton "Juice" Granger (6-3, 220) and Kevin Newsome (6-2, 231). He will evaluate day-by-day before naming a starter.
"We're going to go the guy we think can give us the best chance to win this week,"Addazio said. "We feel we need a spark and competition brings the best out in everybody."
Coyer has started every game this year, but Addazio says the offense has been inconsistent. Coyer was 5 of 16 for 56 yards and one interception without a touchdown when he was replaced by Granger in last week's 34-10 loss at home to Cincinnati. Granger finished 7 of 16 for 86 yards with a third-quarter touchdown pass an no interceptions.
"Chris has been inconsistent, but he's had to play with a different cast this year," Addazio said. "We lost four of five offensive linemen, our tight end (Evan Rodriguez) is with the Bears and our wide receiver (Rod Streater) with Oakland. He's just one piece. He's got to make extraordinary plays to get us over the top with a young team. I feel Chris can play better, but at the same time he's played well. He's thrown ball well and it gets dropped."
Dropped balls sound familiar to Army, including one that would have been a touchdown last week on a call that the announcers said should have been reviewed. But Army's real trouble with dropped balls is 28 fumbles with 15 lost.
This is the sixth straight year Army and Temple have played with Temple winning the last four games.
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