Temple's D-line depth proving to be difference maker


Temple's D-line depth proving to be difference maker

Last Thursday night, No. 21 Temple escaped East Carolina with a 24-14 win to improve to 7-0 for the first time in program history.

The Owls' defense recorded its fourth second-half shutout and held off ECU long enough for P.J. Walker to hit Robby Anderson for the go-ahead touchdown with under four minutes left.

Temple tortured ECU quarterback Blake Kemp for four sacks and an interception. TU also sacked James Summers and Isaiah Jones.

What's allowing the Owls' defense to dominate is the depth on the defensive line.

"We're playing so many guys on the defensive line," head coach Matt Rhule said Tuesday. "(Matt) Ioannidis dominated the game. It was really nice to put Freddie (Booth-Lloyd) in there.

"Freddie's pushing the pocket and making plays. Michael Dogbe, Jarred Alwan played a really good football game."

On Saturday night, TU's depth will be challenged against No. 9 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish come in with an explosive offense and a strong offensive line led by left tackle Ronnie Stanley.

"Stanley, he's got to be — I wasn't in the NFL long but he's got to be a top-5, top-10 pick," Rhule said. "He's probably 6-7 (he's listed at 6-5), he's got long arms.

"You don't see anybody beat him. He's special. They are all good at what they do, but he's an early, early pick in the NFL draft."

Ioannidis, a senior, anchors Temple's D-line. This season, he has 25 tackles and 3½ sacks. In each of his last three games, Ioannidis has six tackles. Against ECU, he had two for loss.

He wears No. 9, which on Temple signals he's one of the "toughest" players. At 6-foot-4, 292 pounds, Ioannidis has been a force at TU and should be playing on Sundays next year.

Temple's defensive line rotates eight players, including Ioannidis, Averee Robinson, Praise Martin-Oguike, Sheriff Finch, Nate D. Smith, Hershey Walton, Dogbe and Booth-Lloyd.

"We've got plenty of depth on the D-line," Ioannidis said. "That just makes things so much easier because everyone can play fresh.

"Offensive linemen typically don't rotate and when you can play eight or nine defensive linemen against five, it helps you stay fresh and stay faster."

Ioannidis said the focus the last few weeks has been on themselves. Though the Owls have escaped with wins, they have started slow.

Even against the Pirates on Thursday, TU was sluggish. Walker missed some throws, and the game was much more difficult than it could have been. TU had 12 penalties against ECU.

But thanks to this defense, Temple has been able to get away with its first-half struggles.

"That's something we definitely struggled with in the past," he said. "We'd always be shooting ourselves in the foot, whether it would be with penalties or missed assignments.

"We have to learn from our mistakes last week and get better."

Against the Irish, Temple will face its strongest offensive line yet. Stanley anchors it, but ND also has William Penn Charter School product Mike McGlinchey and Nick Martin.

Football games are won in the trenches, and if TU's D-line can get pressure on ND quarterback DeShone Kizer the Owls could come out with their biggest win in program history.

"They have a really solid offensive line," Ioannidis said. "We have a really solid defensive line. It will be a really great battle."

Rhule said TU's goal is to get the game to the fourth quarter, where its D has asserted itself this season.

Through seven games, the Owls have allowed just nine points in the fourth quarter. Their defense has commanded the second half this season, allowing just 29 points after halftime.

"I love this team," Rhule said. "We're fighting, we're scraping, we're clawing to be a great team. If we have it close in the fourth quarter, then our kids can go out there and keep playing.

"We have the right attitude on this team. We're not concerned how many we win by, we concern ourselves with the next play."

The next play is Saturday night under the lights of Lincoln Financial Field against Notre Dame.

UCLA reportedly offered Jay Wright ridiculous amount he turned down

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UCLA reportedly offered Jay Wright ridiculous amount he turned down

Because of his success at Villanova, Jay Wright is always a hot name when a high-profile coaching job becomes available. But Wright really does seem happy at Villanova. 

It looks like Wright subscribes to the idea that money can’t buy happiness. 

The Los Angeles Times published a story today about UCLA’s long and winding search for a new head coach. Before they eventually landed on Mick Cronin, they went after some big names in the coaching world, including John Calipari and Wright. 

While Calipari showed some real interest in the gig, it doesn’t seem like Wright gave it a second thought, not even after UCLA offered to double his salary, according to the LA Times

Read by the LA Times, here’s part of what UCLA’s senior associate AD Josh Rebholz said in a text message to donors after the school failed to hire Calipari: 

We would have loved for Jay Wright to walk out on the floor, but even when we offered to double his salary, he still wasn’t coming. Nothing we can do about that. But I am proud of our effort. We didn’t assume anything, took our shots and I believe will end up with a solid coach who will embrace UCLA and build a program we all can be proud of and root for.

If that’s true, that UCLA offered to double his salary, Wright turned down a ton of money. According to USA Today, Wright makes $3,878,768 per season, so doubling that would give him an annual salary of over $7.75 million. That would be the second-highest salary in college basketball behind Calipari and ahead of Mike Krzyzewski. 

It seems like Wright really does love it here. 

2019 NCAA March Madness printable bracket

2019 NCAA March Madness printable bracket

Sports fans, it’s the best time of the year.

Even if you don’t have a team in the dance, you’re probably filling out a bracket and will be just as interested in all the games, until your bracket has been busted.

Speaking of a bracket, if you’re looking for something clean to print out, click here. If you're looking for analysis, our friends at NBC Sports have you covered.

Good luck this year and be sure to be gracious in both victory and defeat in your office pool.