Thursday, December 25, 2014

'Best' and 'Worst' awards for Temple vs. UConn

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. – My look at some of the best and worst performances from Temple’s 17-14 overtime victory over Connecticut:

'Best' and 'Worst' awards for Temple vs. UConn

Montel Harris rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown in Temple´s 17-14 victory over UConn. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Montel Harris rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown in Temple's 17-14 victory over UConn. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. – My look at some of the best and worst performances from Temple’s 17-14 overtime victory over Connecticut:

Player of the game: It was a no-brainer to give this award to Montel Harris for the second consecutive week. The Temple tailback rushed for a game-high 142 yards and a touchdown.  He also returned four punts for 21 yards and had a key 13-yard reception. The 5-foot-9, 207-pounder’s longest rushing gain went for 33 yards in the second quarter. Three plays later, Harris scored on a 24-yard burst up the middle.

Worst performance of the game: How can you not give this to Connecticut kicker Chad Christen? The redshirt junior missed three field goals and had another one blocked. Perhaps the most disappointing kick was his 28-yard attempt, which sailed wide right in overtime. But the game wouldn’t have gone to overtime if he made one of his attempts in regulation.

Best performance by a defensive player:  Tyler Matakevich’s career-best 19 tackles make the Temple weakside linebacker the easy pick to win this award for the second straight week. The 6-1, 220-pound freshman proved that last week’s 15 tackles against South Florida wasn’t a fluke.  Connecticut has to regret not offering the Stratford, Conn., native, who grew up a Huskies fan, a scholarship.

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Worst defensive performance:  What was I thinking about when I said Harris would have a tough time rushing against UConn? Please. The Huskies’ defense gave up a season-worst 202 rushing yards.  The Huskies came into the matchup with the nation’s eighth-ranked rush defense. Sorry, I didn’t see it.

Worst performance through 57 minutes: There’s no way that I could have avoided giving this award to Chris Coyer.  The Temple quarterback flat out struggled until the Owls’ final offensive possession of regulation. He completed 9 of 17 passes 63 yards. Several of his completions were poorly thrown balls to wide-open receivers.

Best performance in the final three minutes of regulation: Coyer gets this award. He completed 4 of 9 passes for 69 yards on Temple’s final drive of regulation. He ended the drive by drilling a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Fitzpatrick with 19 seconds left. The redshirt junior really stepped up for the Owls.

Worst play calling:  It's hard to question play calling when a team wins and compiles 202 rushing yards. But at times, Temple's play calling was too predictable and outright stubborn. Prime examples of that came on consecutive fourth-and-1 situations in the fourth quarter. Both of the fourth-and-1 plays were set up after Harris was wrapped for no gains on third down. Harris then lost yards on the both fourth downs when everyone in the stadium knew he was getting the ball. A play-action pass on third or fourth down would have been nice.

About this blog
Keith Pompey has been an Inquirer reporter since September 2004. He took over the Sixers beat in the summer of 2013 after covering the Temple basketball and football for the previous three years. Pompey also previously covered the Penn and Drexel men’s basketball team and Villanova football team after initially focusing on high school sports.

Pompey is a native Philadelphian and a University of Pittsburgh graduate. Follow him on Twitter @PompeyOnSixers or reach Keith at kpompey@phillynews.com. Reach Keith at kpompey@phillynews.com.

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