In the mid-70s, two future coaching legends shared side-by-side offices in the Cheney State athletic department. One was John Chaney, who left the Wolves in 1982 to take the helm of Temple’s men’s basketball program.
The other was Coatesville native William “Billy” Joe, who served as football coach for seven seasons there (now Cheney University). Joe is the all-time leader in victories for a I-AA program with 234. He returns home to the Philadelphia area this weekend as his Florida A&M Rattlers (0-2) visit the Owls at Lincoln Financial Field.
The connection is only the most notable of many similarities between the two teams in tomorrow’s game. Both are coming off lopsided losses to opponents in consecutive weeks and both run four wide receiver spread offenses.
More importantly, both are also winless, although by tomorrow evening that will no longer be the case.
“They’re scary,” Temple coach Bobby Wallace said. “They control the ball, they have had lot of plays in [their previous two] games, and our defense is going to be on the field a lot.”
The Owls (0-2) are coming off a disheartening 45-22 loss last Saturday at the hands of No. 23 Maryland. In that game, Temple fell behind 28-0 in the first half, making the team’s 22-17 second-half scoring advantage insignificant.
For the second straight game, quarterback Walter Washington could not find anything resembling a throwing rhythm until early in the third quarter. Wallace said Washington needs to use the first half of this week’s game to jump start the rest of the season.
“Offensively, Walter Washington’s got to execute starting the game out,” Wallace said. “He was [3-of-12 passing] in the first half, and he was 12-of-15 in the second half. He was right at 200 yards of total offense in the second half. He’s got to perform like that earlier.”
Already peppered with early-season injuries, Temple will be without starting wide receiver Buchie Ibeh, who suffered a high-ankle sprain last week. Wallace said Ibeh will be out for at least a month. Cornerback Ray Lamb will play a few downs as he tries to return from a knee injury sustained this past spring.
The injury to Ibeh and the emergence of sophomore Tariq Sanders as a competent offensive tackle last week have strengthened Temple’s resolve to run the football as much as possible against the Rattlers.
Florida A&M has surrendered nearly 300 rushing yards per game this season, while their leading rusher, Rashard Pompey, has gained only 73 yards on 22 attempts. By comparison, Temple running back Tim Brown is averaging almost five yards per carry on fewer (19) attempts.
On defense, Wallace has warned his team against getting discouraged as the Rattlers complete pass after pass.
Although Rattlers quarterbacks Ben Dougherty and Josh Driscoll have completed a combined 97 passes in split-duty, the passes are usually for minimal gains. The Owls’ success will depend on their ability to prevent the opposing wide receivers’ yards after the catch.
Above all, Washington must play like the quarterback he’s shown flashes of being for four quarters. Washington has said he typically feels more comfortable in the first half, but his second-half performance is invariably better.
If the source of the horrendous starts is not mental or mechanical, what’s the solution?
“I look at the playcalling, I look at the effort, and I look at the things that go into [the passing game],” Wallace said. “We couldn’t have had better calls. We’ve just got to execute and at some point the players have to have a little bit of accountability in throwing the football, catching the football, running the routes, things like that.”
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.