Owls not up to speed in 44-14 loss to Virginia

If anyone in attendance for the Temple-Virginia football game Saturday wasn’t familiar with the Cavaliers’ fight song before kickoff, chances are the tune was running in a loop through their heads by the time they

If anyone in attendance for the Temple-Virginia football game Saturday wasn’t familiar with the Cavaliers’ fight song before kickoff, chances are the tune was running in a loop through their heads by the time they left.

“The Cav Song,” which the Virginia Pep Band plays after every UVA score, got plenty of playing time in Temple’s 44-14 loss to Virginia. The Owls, who had stressed all spring that 2004 would be a year that mattered for Temple football, seemed overwhelmed in a game that was just moving too fast for them.

“We didn’t really have a lot of scrimmages over the summer in camp,” said Temple quarterback Walter Washington, who completed 11 of 23 passes for 132 yards. “We didn’t really go against each other (at full speed) like that. We didn’t have our up-tempo camp.”

There were some hiccups attributable to human error, but the on-field results and postgame comments seemed to reveal a team that was out-managed. The Owls’ offensive line struggled to protect Washington all game, and the quarterback later referred to his difficulty reading Virginia’s coverage. The Cavaliers utilized a delayed blitz that Washington admitted he “didn’t practice on at all.”

“I wasn’t ready for that,” he said.

Washington accepted fault for the outcome-he twice said, “I take the blame for that”-but as with any 30-point loss, every Owl had to claim some responsibility for the result. Senior safety Sadeke Konte, who manned the defensive backfield ably with most of his fellow DBs sidelined, was disappointed yet uncritical of the offense’s two turnovers in Temple territory. Both turnovers, fumbles by Washington and junior running back Tim Brown, led to scores.

“It’s devastating, really,” Konte said, “especially after we’d stopped them twice and we had to come right back into the game. It was devastating, but there were a lot of things we did wrong (as a defense), also, to not help stop the losing process.”

“They gameplanned us very well,” he said.

Temple head coach Bobby Wallace said he saw a lot of good things in the game, but there were a lot more that were bad. Specifically, Wallace and the players acknowledged turnovers, missed tackles, and problems defending and initiating the pass rush as the most major deficiencies.

“Up front, they whipped us on both sides of the ball,” Wallace said. He then shrugged off questions concerning Virginia’s perfect five-for-five red zone scoring ratio, saying, “I don’t think we stopped them anywhere. They were beating us from goal line to goal line.”

Virginia opened up the scoring in the first quarter with a 39-yard field goal by junior kicker Connor Hughes, following Washington’s fumble at the Temple 35-yard line. Just over two minutes later, Virginia running back Wali Lundy’s 3-yard touchdown run helped the Cavs capitalize on Brown’s fumble to make the score 10-0. A 70-yard punt return by Virginia’s Alvin Pearman (whose previous long return was 24) and two more Lundy rushing TDs gave the Cavaliers a 30-0 halftime advantage.

By comparison, the second half was a more even affair. The Owls matched both of Virginia’s TDs with rushing scores by Washington. Virginia junior tight end Heath Miller, arguably one of the best TEs in the country, capped his team’s scoring with a 4-yard TD catch with 4:46 left in the fourth quarter. Lundy finished the game with 104 yards rushing.

Temple’s offensive struggles were best demonstrated by primary wide receiver Phil Goodman’s day. Although he caught a respectable five passes for 75 yards, his touches were likely far below the amount he would like to have as the team’s playmaker. The Temple passing game relies on its big receivers to get downfield and create separation, but the offensive line’s inability to give Washington sufficient time left his receivers frustrated but hopeful.

“That’s what these games are for,” said senior WR Buchie Ibeh. “Just don’t make the same mistakes you made, look at the film, evaluate it, and come out and be better next week. It’s not something for us to hang our heads for. There’s 10 more games left.”

Benjamin Wantanabe can be reached at bgw@temple.edu.

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