Scouting report: Temple at Vanderbilt
Leading up to this week’s season openers, Saturday Down South’s Brad Crawford breaks down scouting reports for the SEC’s out-of-conference opponents and what makes them click:
- TODAY: Boise State vs. Ole Miss (Atlanta, Thursday), 8 p.m., ESPN; Temple at Vanderbilt (Thursday), 9:15 p.m., SEC Network
- TUESDAY: UT Martin at Kentucky (Saturday), Noon, SEC Network; South Dakota State at Missouri (Saturday), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU
- WEDNESDAY: West Virginia vs. Alabama (Atlanta, Saturday), 3:30 p.m., ABC; Clemson at Georgia (Saturday), 5:30 p.m., ESPN
- THURSDAY: Idaho at Florida (Saturday), 7 p.m., ESPNU; Southern Miss at Mississippi St. (Saturday), 7:30 p.m., SEC Network
- FRIDAY: LSU vs. Wisconsin (Houston, Saturday), 9 p.m., ESPN; Utah State at Tennessee (Sunday), 7 p.m., SEC Network
Opens Thursday at Vanderbilt (9:15 p.m., SEC Network)
THE SKINNY: Since winning nine games during the 2011 campaign, the Owls have won just six of their last 23 contests due to inconsistencies on both sides of the football. Though last season was a disappointment with 10 losses, Temple saw the light at the end of the tunnel after battling 15th-ranked UCF to the wire during a 39-36 finish and falling by a touchdown or less in several other matchups. Vanderbilt’s won nine straight games against non-conference opponents, its last loss coming to Northwestern on Sept. 8, 2012.
KEY PLAYER: Dual threat true freshman quarterback P.J. Walker made an instant impact as a rookie last fall for the Owls, throwing for 2,084 yards and 20 touchdowns after winning the job midseason over the inconsistent Connor Reilly. Walker attended the Manning Passing Academy in the offseason, working on his mechanics and a quicker release. Temple’s best player on his side of the football is hoping for a breakout performance on an offense void of big-play threats.
WHAT TO WATCH: Backed by his new 3-4 scheme at Vanderbilt, Derek Mason’s licking his chops knowing that Temple returns only one starter along its offensive line, a unit that gave up 32 sacks last season. The Owls welcome back their top two leading rushers but are depleted on the outside after losing wideouts Robbie Anderson and Ryan Alderman. Moving the football against a hungry defense in Mason’s debut will be a chore for Temple since the Commodores are focused on stuffing the run and limiting Walker’s freelance abilities outside the pocket.
FINAL SAY: Recently announced as the Week 1 starter at quarterback, Vanderbilt’s Patton Robinette still has much to prove as a sophomore passer to keep his job under center. He’ll have the opportunity to flourish through the air against a Temple secondary that replaces three starters and ranked among the nation’s worst last season after allowing nearly 300 passing yards per game. Robinette, who recorded a rushing touchdown in seven different games last fall, needs a strong start — and a high completion percentage — to keep quarterback challengers Stephen Rivers and Johnny McCrary at bay.